Welcome back to Two Point County. Last time we focused on successfully managing a series of increasingly troublesome hospitals, ensuring patients and staff alike were well looked after. This time it’s the turn of everyone’s favourite demographic group. Students.
That’s right, Two Point Campus is the sequel which allows you to play god across twelve universities, each with their own unique set of challenges. For those who played the excellent Two Point Hospital it won’t take long at all to slip back into the groove of this strategy sim game.
This is because despite Two Point Campus being a sequel it plays in pretty much exactly the same way as before. The UI is busy but not overwhelming, and thanks to well thought out button mapping it is easy to navigate. Sometimes when building you can lose which item you are in control of for a second or two, but overall it all works rather well. Why fix something which isn’t broken?
The pedants amongst you could argue the word “sequel” is being stretched a little here, and that Two Point Campus is the same game as before but with a different skin. Upon first impressions I may have been inclined to agree, however once you get into the game this argument starts to fall apart.
The first difference you will hopefully notice is that Two Point Campus works on an academic year cycle. This means when you reach the end, students will (hopefully) pass the year and leave for the summer. This will also reduce your income, but you will be able to use campus points to invest in other courses for the new year. You’ll need to be aware of the associated costs of building the necessary facilities and hiring the staff, and budget accordingly. When ready, you can then kick off the new school year.
You begin your adventure by taking the reigns of Freshleigh Meadows, which acts as the first of two tutorial levels. You are guided by your objectives list which will keep you on the right track. It’s all fairly familiar at first, with the options to teach different courses introduced. Scientography and Virtual Normality feature here, and you’ll need to hire teachers with the relevant qualifications to educate the students.
Many of the staples will be familiar to fans of Two Point Hospital, as you’ll soon realise a number of facilities are being demanded by the students; toilets, a staff room and somewhere to eat and drink. You will also need to build dormitories and a library to help those studying reach their potential.
As you progress to different sites, new courses will be introduced. These vary but include: Internet History, Knight School and Spy School to name a few. However, one of my favourites is the Archaeology course. This allows students to unearth long lost artefacts which you can then sell on or choose to display in your university. To do this, you need to set up a dig site which brings me to one of the key differences in Two Point Campus.
For the first time you have control over the outdoor space on your plot of land. This means you can not only build certain facilities such as a Cheeseball Field (you’ll see) and Dig Site, but there are loads of items which are solely designed to dress up the exterior of your university. Trees, benches and even quirky sculptures are all waiting for you to experiment with.
Along with some familiar indoor items there are also plenty of new ones too, which can be unlocked by spending your Kudosh. This currency is earned by completing all sorts of tasks, along with earning accolades too. There are also loads of customisation options to play with, which aren’t just limited to items. A personal highlight has been decking out the beds in the dorm with rainbow flag bed sheets.
Many items will passively affect the students in regards to their mood, which is split down into several categories that influence it. Obvious indicators such as hunger and thirst are balanced by more subtle factors such as the attractiveness and room prestige around the university. You can use the student overview screen to inspect the overall mood more closely before deciding how to improve it.
Another big factor for students is keeping them entertained. This can be achieved in all sorts of ways, but one of the most effective is setting up a Student Union. Here they can relax and have a drink, but also attend events such as open mic nights and film screenings. Setting up events and watching them yourself is great fun, as well as an effective way to boost the mood on site.
Two Point Campus also breaks new ground when it comes to relationships. Certain items such as love benches will encourage students to – let’s say – get a little closer to each other. This meaningful sense of connection will also support them in achieving better grades which in turn, looks better for the university.
Many of the familiar features return to Two Point Campus, such as visitors, awards, flash events and even hunting pests. However, one little difference I noticed was the option to place hand sanitiser units in every room of the university if you should wish. This demonstrates perfectly one of the many nuanced references in the game showing the care and attention that has gone into making it.
When compared to Two Point Hospital, I must say I’ve found Two Point Campus to have a much more manageable difficulty curve. Sure, the last few levels ramp up the pressure and are designed to test the skills you have learned, but new courses are gently drip fed, allowing even newcomers to get to grips with how it all works. That said, I did have to take out a few loans to make ends meet but I never went bankrupt which is a plus.
You can earn a maximum of three stars on each campus, needing to meet certain objectives as you go. However, once you bag the first star the option to move on to the next campus opens up. I liked this approach from the first game too as it avoids stunting progression, giving the player further choice in how to play. This also means each university you build is saved individually from the rest, so you can head back to try for more stars at any time. Of course, more stars means more rewards.
For the competitive folks out there, you can also compare your stats to other players who own the game. The talented folks at Two Point Studios have also created “Two Point County”, a community based platform where you can socialise, share ideas and even unlock the (almost guaranteed) soon-to-be-famous golden toilet.
If you wish,these ideas can be realised in the Sandbox mode. It’s here where you have even more control over how you want to play, based around the twelve campuses from the campaign. You can choose to take it easy, free from the constraints of objectives, or go for a greater challenge starting with fewer resources. It’s an effective way of nailing down plenty of replay value.
I think what I love above all else in Two Point Campus is its comedic charm. It’s as strong as ever here, demonstrated by students taking on weird and wonderful courses, the trademark niche soundtrack and listening to the radio hosts natter away. I absolutely love it.
The gameplay balance is also struck very well. Put simply, it’s an accessible but complex sim management game. However, you can still get by without needing to delve into all the deeper details and you aren’t punished for taking a more streamlined approach. Shortcuts such as adding items to your favourites list and being able to save room templates also help address any potential issues of repetitiveness, allowing players to speed up the initial build process at the start of each level.
There is so much to Two Point Campus that I simply can’t fit it all into this review, but then again it is best experienced as you play. I’ve already spent hours in this world and can’t wait to dedicate more time to it. In what some may call a quieter year of gaming, this is the perfect game to keep you busy.
Despite seeming similar to Two Point Hospital on the surface, Two Point Campus is stuffed with enough new ideas and irresistible charm to ensure it is a sequel well worth playing.
Two Point Campus can be downloaded from the Xbox Store