Management sim Two Point Campus is a triumph in measured rule breaking – a great sequel that channels the reserved iconoclastic zeal of an extremely British brand of rebellion, like putting the milk in first. Hospital felt like a pitch-perfect revival that, while cosy and satisfying, played it a little too safe to be genuinely exciting outside the nostalgia buzz of its premise. Don’t mess with the classics, right? Especially if defibrillating the cadaver of that classic is kind of the whole point.
- READ MORE: Doing things “the Two Point Way”
Campus absolutely messes with the classics. It remixes, reinvents and reduxes, with all the brash confidence of a student union DJ slipping their own Fruity Loops beats into a Friday night playlist. Against all odds, they’re actually bangers.
Not that Campus is a complete reinvention, just a deceptively deep rework. The main pillars established by Bullfrog and spruced up by Two Point still hold true here. You’ll still build a business, one room at a time, using blueprint-like floorplans. You’ll still hire and train staff, from professors to coffee vendors, and try to keep them happy with opulent staff rooms and lavish salary increases. You’ll still try to keep everything beautiful as well as functional, with plants and art and regularly emptied bins. And just when you’ve got everything running smoothly, the game will still delight by throwing various spanners in the works, like a horde of rampaging knights you’ll have to see off with water-pistol wielding janitors.
You’ll still smirk, never quite laughing out loud but enjoying it all the same, at a dad-only open mic night’s worth of puns, quips, and japes baked in from the ground up, from radio broadcasts to furniture descriptions. But beneath all this on-brand, highly enjoyable misanthropy lies a small but incredibly significant change that alters how Campus functions in comparison to Hospital. Most of your profit now comes not from gouging, but (shudders) actively improving the lives of your customers by providing a good education, which equates to big bonuses at the end of each month. The drive to run a good hospital was always there, but only so much as it related to profit margins. Now, you can run your Campus at a monthly loss and still profit, as long as you’re running good classes, encouraging stable and complimentary management, rather than quick fixes. It’s more involved, and much more satisfying.
Hospital featured a handy visual overlay for identifying weak points in your facility, letting you decide where to cheekily paint over stinking brown patches with beautifying plants, or in what areas your already dying patients were most likely to catch a second bout of hypothermia. This visualisation mode returns here, with some Campus-y tweaks. What’s new is goals – individual wants and needs, unique to each student, that boost their personal happiness, or improve their education. Goals arrive in your inbox. Holly Barnacle needs a hot dog to feel complete. Archaeology student Annabel Bobble wants an antique display in the library. Hugh Vinegar wants a party in the union, because of course he does, the feculent wastrel. Combined with the visualisation overlay and an overview screen with so much improvement that it’s now fun to pour over spreadsheets, these goals make tweaking your ramshackle campus into a well-oiled, monetised education factory simpler and clearer than ever.
These goals also feed into one of Campus’ best improvements – how much more alive and fleshed out each tiny person is, especially the students. Personnel management follows the Hospital mould of staff and customers (students), with the management of the former affecting the experience of the latter, and the ultimate success and profitability of your campus. But while Hospital’s patients mainly functioned as fussy wallets with embarrassingly swollen legs, your students have relationship needs, aspirations, and character traits. They can even catch a variety of grin-worthy, dad-joke diseases, just in case you worried Two Point Studios had forgotten their roots. There were times when I sat back, watching my students and staff rush through their schedules – chatting, eating, pooping, playing Beloved Sega Product Crazy Taxi – and just marvelled at the sheer, colony-like complexity of the simulation.
Research and training still provide the entry point into higher level advancement, but they’re now joined by private tuition, which further expands the idea that you’re aiming to make your customers genuinely thrive, rather than just draining their wallets and kicking them out on the curb. Courses run for three years, so it’s worth making time and training investments in your students early. A new addition in this area is clubs. Pop down a stand, and either wait for students to join of their own accord, or assign an assistant to speed up the process. There’s even a definitely-not-a-cult, definitely-not-Scientology-based club that invites worship of a mysterious entity called The Orb, reducing member happiness but earning you money. Happily, most clubs are a lot more benevolent, with things like speed walking and power napping making their members much more efficient at completing their schedules.
Customisation in Hospital could feel purely functional at times. There were a fair few doodads to pepper your floor plan with, but it mostly felt in service of getting percentages above a certain value, rather than losing yourself in absinthe-fuelled binges of wildly creative sunflower plonking. Here, with the addition of outdoor decorations and custom building layouts, you’ve got a lot more wiggle room to create your own personal vision of botanical beauty. It’s nothing near the level of a Planet Coaster, sure, but let’s be honest: the main function of such overwhelmingly granular customisation is to make you feel artistically inferior to CoolCoasterTube or SliderEnjoyer or whichever other deranged genius you just watch build a working replica of a Dyson sphere inside Planet Zoo, using only pebbles.
As well as a customisable sandbox mode, Campus ships with 12 levels. Three less than Hospital’s 15, but each feels denser, with unique specialised courses and scenarios for each. So there’s your Culinary school with end-of-year cook-offs. A knight school with jousts. There’s even a play on those wizarding school novels that Hatsune Miku wrote. I should note that this – along with the whole review – is based on me aiming to get the full three starts on each level before moving on to the next. For a breezier experience, the two star objectives feel like a sweet spot. The one-star objectives don’t really require you to wrangle with the finer points of management, and a few of the three-star objectives are a pure grind, rather than introducing a new puzzle into the mix.
The meaning of some pop-ups are a bit obscure, too. a noticeable hiccup in a game that otherwise does a fantastic job at letting you know what needs your attention. Also, as far as I could figure out, the detailed itinerary screens are purely for show, with no option to alter staff and students automatically arranged schedules.
My most pressing complaint, though, is what a bunch of absolute soap dodgers my students are. I placed soap dispensers on every available wall, no more than five feet apart from each other. I hired an entire army of janitors to empty each bin with borderline unhinged prejudice, like a broom-wielding KGB death squad. I even went so far as to give each dorm room an adjacent shower. The sweaty reprobates refuse to get my hygiene rating above 70 per cent. Hey, Two Point. Please add a function that allows me to command my janitors forcefully hose down the little ratbags, thanks. You know that old Sims tricks where you delete the swimming pool ladder to make them drown? I want that, but with a giant vat of bleach. Merci beaucoup.
I should mention, too, how conspicuously primed for DLC everything feels. Partly Sega being Sega, and partly just a side effect of a formula that easily allows for new themed stages and items. Again, that’s not to say what’s here isn’t substantial. There’s easily 40 hours if you wanted to three star everything, and that’s without sandbox mode. Also, I’m writing this as a complete mark who will likely buy anything they put out. This is a genuinely great sequel that squashes any fears about it being a reskin with a fresh set of nouns. So much so that I frequently forgot to be disappointed that it’s not my coveted Two Point Dungeon Keeper.
A true sequel in the best sense, Two Point Campus is as moreish and satisfying as a greasy breakfast after a night on irresponsibly cheap student union pints. It’s clearly been designed as a platform for DLC, but what’s here is still substantial. Two Point Hospital was a deft revival of an old management classic. Campus feels like the beginning of a brand new one.
- Clever changes and improvements to the formula keep things fresh and interesting
- A great balance of increased complexity within an accessible, easily understandable framework
- Still as goofily amusing as ever
- Some obscure pop-ups
- A few of the three-star objectives are a grind
- My students refuse to shower. Please. Make them stop smelling so bad.