“Students are reminded that you came here on purpose…” If you played Theme Hospital spiritual successor Two Point Hospital, you’ll know exactly the bored tone of the university receptionist in Two Point Campus. She seems to have moved on from healthcare and embraced a career in higher education but still doesn’t seem to have much patience for human beings. It’s honestly pretty relatable. She’s also a clear indicator that this is very much a Two Point Studios management game. A sarcastic welcome home, if you will, as we’re taken back to this Aardman-esque world of happy cartoon characters and puns, shrewd management tasks, and a disturbing quantity of luminescent orange snacks known as Cheesy Gubbins.
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But the good news is that Two Point Campus is no mere Two Point Hospital or, indeed, Theme Hospital clone. It takes place in the same county and uses a lot of the same systems, but designing and managing a university has very different requirements from the treatment cycle of the originals. Whether you were curing your clown-afflicted patients of Jest Infections in the main game or of the Bionic Plague in later DLCs, TPH’s patients were almost always secondary to your main aims. Who cares if one dies in the corridor? As long as you had a janitor to vacuum up their ghost before it spooked too many of the other patients, it was easy to ignore and concentrate on making the big bucks. Insert scathing takedown of global healthcare systems here.
Instead, Two Point Campus is all about your students. Caring for them, feeding them, keeping them happy between classes, and giving them the ultimate university experience to remember for a lifetime. No pressure then. Our success – and bank balance – depends on the crowds of young minds clamouring in the halls actually having a good time. And spoiler, it’s just as ‘Oh God, I’m going to spend forever here’ levels of compelling as Two Point Hospital.
I’m eased into a career in academia with the Freshleigh Meadows tutorial level before moving onto the Piazza Lanatra university that specialises in the art of Gastronomy. To fully simulate university life, Two Point Campus makes the most of an academic year structure. In a big change from Two Point Hospital, we’re actually in control of how much work we take on. Before the academic year starts, we choose which courses to run and once each year is complete, we can use our earnings to upgrade those courses or add new ones such as Gastronomy, Virtual Normality or Knight School where students can train in the art of jousting. Once again, Two Point Campus steers deftly through an ocean of wordplay – the conspira-sea? – without sinking with cringe.
Each course comes with its own room requirements and upgrades as it progresses and adds a whole new subset of students to the halls. It’s a feel good loop as students arrive for three years at a time before being spat into the real world as the adults that you may or may not have cultivated. The time between academic years is a perfect excuse to get your affairs in order and make sure you’ve got enough lecture theatres, course rooms, and dormitories before hitting start. It’s a refreshing breather before rushing headlong into another year.
Building and decorating will be second nature to TPH players and those who have never played before will quickly enjoy the satisfying cartoony placement of rooms and required furniture. Students need digs with beds and wardrobes and the better you make their surroundings, the more they’ll pay in rent. Plus, if they aren’t happy sharing with 20 other students in a giant prison like-structure with no bins, they’re not going to want to study in your well-equipped library, so finding a balance of dorm rooms and keeping them clean becomes vital. Getting involved with the nitty gritty here is essential.
The course rooms themselves are a delight. While lecture theatres are just some tiered seating and a lectern, individual training rooms are packed with fascinating machines. The kitchens of the Gastronomy course are filled with giant pizza and pie makers, surrounded by bustling students chopping vegetables and watching in awe. As I quickly discover to my detriment though, awe doesn’t mean they’re enjoying themselves and my university appears to officially be a fun vacuum. I hurriedly build a student union, complete with bar, and schedule a party and a cinema screening in a lecture theatre but it’s clearly going to take more than a couple of events to keep them entertained.
Two Point Campus is all about finding the balance between academic success and raucous fun with friends. You can fill the halls with arcade machines and table football but also, importantly, items to build the student’s relationships with each other. Another key component of campus life. Even a bench to share food can apparently go a long way to building lasting friendships or the odd meet cute.
And this doesn’t just happen within four preplanned walls. Two Point Studios has smashed down its prefabricated buildings and we can now design our own schools and, importantly, their surroundings. Don’t worry, there’s still an option for premade constructions but the outside of the university is just as important as the inside. We can now decorate every inch of our campus with walls, flowers, trees, and fountains. Students have a keen eye for decor so will celebrate a T-rex statue between buildings and even get a fresh air bonus if you can cultivate a pleasing outside space.
I discover that this is a great place to position special Campus Clubs. I only get a chance to see the Power Nap Club in snoozy action but place this stand and its sleepy moon covered totems around your campus and students will happily sign up. This isn’t just a chance to make your students join a cult, each club gives a student an additional special perk. The Power Nap club hands over the power nap skill where students won’t need to go back to their dorm to rest and can just snooze on the go. Different clubs in different universities will bring new special skills, giving students an edge if you’re potentially neglecting them in other areas.
After a few hours, I’ve clearly only scratched the surface of university life. My quest for cleanliness is failing and a stack of students are on course for an F if I don’t organise private tuition. All while I’ve become inexplicably obsessed with making sure everyone is eating and drinking enough. The moving parts here are already ludicrously compelling and I’m keenly aware that my dismal fun rating will be fixed when a year of jaded students graduates and a new bundle of fresh faces arrive as lambs to the educational slaughter. Wait, no, I mean… lambs to the laughter, obviously…