After Two Point successfully slid into the sim space with spiritual Theme Hospital successor, the developer’s next game, , already seems like a massive leap forward.
The same tongue-in-cheek silliness that smoothed the hard edges off an otherwise challenging sim is once again present, but there appears to be a lot more fun, flexibility, and variety to Two Point Campus’ version of that enticing cocktail.
In Two Point Campus, the player takes on the role of campus administrator and must shape a selection of different schools into world-class establishments where students are fighting to attend. Or a complete comedic disaster that makes the frats of Animal House seem civilized, because we all know that’s happening on purpose at least once.
It’s quite surprising just how much of Two Point Hospital’s formula works when applied to an academic setting. So much so, that the opening hour or so of my preview build felt comfortingly familiar. The game puts you in a relatively gentle opening campus and explains the basics as you go. These basics include placing lecture halls, study rooms, dorms, toilets, and places to eat, then furnishing them with whatever doodads feel best suited to making the place look nice and upgrading the facilities to create success through learning and happiness.
Once a certain number of requirements are met, you can move on to the next, slightly more challenging campus. Rinse and repeat. Very familiar structure, with a quite different flavour. Each campus has its own dynamic and personal objectives, making the jump from one to the next more distinct than it does in Two Point Hospital.
The preview build offered up a generous four campuses to run, each focusing on a particular craft. The tutorial school, Freshleigh Meadows, has a technology focus that includes virtual reality learning and the like. The Piazza Lanatra school is for aspiring chefs and features cook-offs against rival schools and comedy-sized cooking equipment. Noblestead throws up the first inkling of a Two Point game even less interested in reality by having you run a school for Knights, where students train to be medieval-style warriors, and are constantly invaded by knights from rival institutions. Things are rounded off by Spiffenmore’s wizarding school, which takes an obvious influence and makes it distinctly Two Point in style.
I do like how Two Point Campus drinks deeper from the well of absurdity that Two Point Hospital casually sipped at. The reality-adjacent academia on offer, the increasing fantasy element, freaky occurrences such as frog rain, and the newly-formed life sim drama that is the students' love lives, all contribute to a game that has more going on than its predecessor, yet manages to make it flow more seamlessly as well.
Student care is what sets Two Point Campus apart as a more engaging sim game than Two Point Hospital. A student’s happiness and ability to learn is a more personal endeavor than treating patients, which is a strange thing to write, but undoubtedly true in the context of these games. Taking a few pages from the book of Maxis, Two Point Campus allows administrators to fine-tune a student’s life on campus by providing not only the right tools for learning the trade they’re studying, but to develop socially and psychologically. The ability to build activity-specific clubs, and plan parties are early ways Two Point Campus explains how to let students let off steam and form bonds with one another. From there the options only grow, and pastoral care even becomes available to help students who are struggling with life on campus. It’s not quite The Sims level of interactive life drama, but I found myself knowing some actual names of students, and getting momentarily distracted from other duties whilst trying to make them happy.
On the academic side of things, the administrator is able to unlock and add new courses to a curriculum as they please, rather than having on-the-fly additions crop up when you’ve already planned out your campus structure. There’s a different kind of chaos to running a campus compared to a hospital in the world of Two Point. Revenue largely comes from tuition fees, and there’s a captive audience to keep sweet for more than a brief visit. As such, there’s no excessive procession of new intake, thus giving the player more time to focus on the students. As with Two Point Hospital, mini objectives will pop up to keep potential lulls in action at bay.
Interestingly, when school’s out for Summer, Two Point Campus allows you to use that time for planning. The aforementioned new courses can be added, rooms set up for them, and general prep to get ahead of the opening day chaos. It adds to the largely relaxed pace of the game.
Two Point Campus very much comes across as a game built on knowledge gained from a previous title. Little things that irked me about the otherwise enjoyable Two Point Hospital have seemingly been addressed, and improved upon. It retains the endearing sense of humour, and has kept me engaged, and eager to keep playing. If it continues to follow this trajectory, then Two Point Campus will be a Grade A student of the sim genre when it releases later this Summer.
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