There's nothing like a case of pumpkin head to make the students at one of my Two Point Campus schools start feeling a little blue – or should that be orange? But sadness, fatigue, bad grades, meteor showers, and a missing bookcase certainly aren't helping. I'll admit, I'm struggling to keep my Hogwarts-inspired wizardry campus afloat. I've got debt coming out of my robes, and students dropping out every term. No-one told me running a university would be easy, and yet I didn't expect it to be this much of a balancing act either.
Release date: August 9, 2022
Platform(s): PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
Developer: Two Point Studios
After all, you're looking at a Two Point Hospital pro. I'm not averse to running a large scale operation like this, or with managing the various requirements from all that pass through it, but this school malarky is something else. Two Point Campus is the second game from Two Point Studios, and if you have walked the glistening halls of 2018's Two Point Hospital you'll loosely know what to expect from this college-themed sequel.
At the top level, you will be asked to kickstart and maintain a variety of different colleges in Two Point Campus. You'll fill empty buildings with facilities to keep your students' grades climbing, such as libraries, lecture halls, and subject-specific classrooms, to other amenities like dormitories and bathrooms. The teachers and assistants will need things like staff rooms and options for further training, and you'll need to make sure there are enough of them to match the needs of your alumni. Same goes for janitors, who'll not only need to clean and perform maintenance, but also rid the campus of invaders from rival schools. Two Point Campus asks a lot of everyone, it turns out.
But Two Point Campus is mainly about constantly keeping you on your toes. It's not a case of placing a few posters and watching the overall satisfaction rise, but rather keeping note of the happiness and performance of each individual student. I've no doubt spent more time in the student overview menu than I have any other part of the game as it's there you can monitor grades, happiness, and dial into the more personal requests of each of your alumni. Ignore any of them for too long and they'll be at risk of wanting to drop out – or worse, stop paying their fees. (In a game where your finances are regularly teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, you don't want anyone wobbling that particular see-saw.)
There are so many stats to monitor in Two Point Campus that it initially feels overwhelming. Private tutors can help improve bad grades, but the students' overall happiness is much more of a multifaceted requirement to keep fulfilled. It's a constant quest to keep the balance, adding new items and checking heat maps to ensure you're supplying everything your growing school needs – and keeping the cash flowing in. You'll need to provide for their overall health, toilet comfort, energy levels, entertainment requirements, hygiene, and more. And then there are the more unique elements to manage, like wanting to make friends, join a club, or even fall in love. University attendees will even want you to run events like Student Union parties, gigs, and cook-offs too, which means managing their calendar alongside their studies. Plus, they'll regularly ask for personal goals to be fulfilled, or require certain items to complete an assignment for class.
A lot of those requests will involve a specific item from the build catalog, and 99% of the time said piece will need to be unlocked using Kudosh. It's the same in-game currency as Two Point Hospital, and is earned by completing various types of tasks and ticking off requests. However, initially, it's incredibly slow to earn, and the process to try and speed it up can be opaque. Missing an opportunity to fulfil such student requests because you haven't got enough Kudosh is not only frustrating, but can also have a direct impact on the happiness of your campus inhabitants. Such a barrier keeps you from feeling like you're progressing in those all-important early levels.
But, like everything in Two Point Campus, patience is always rewarded. Kudosh frustrations don't last too long, and you're better off moving on to the next campus the minute it's unlocked rather than trying to three-star each level with the (initially) limited tools at your disposal. The more campuses you add to your empire, the more options you'll have to keep your staff and students happy. For example, unlocking the training room a few campuses in allows you to upgrade your staff's skills, making it easier for them to keep your students well-educated and happier as they learn without requiring your direct intervention.
What's more, you'll want to explore each campus as soon as you're able to because each of them has its own overarching narrative, theme, and specialist subjects. The Hogwarts-themed Spiffinmoore for example, focuses on Wizardry and the Dark Arts, while the castle-based Noblestead trains students in the art of Knight School. The variety on offer is brilliant, and there's plenty to discover beyond what Two Point Studio has revealed so far. While you can expand the classes you offer to make each campus more generalist, keeping them more focused on a specialist subject area is not only easier to manage, but more fun. You can really dial into the decor and theme of each campus, unlocking more furniture and decorative items that turns your shell into something actually resembling real-life academia.
Well, not too close, as this is a Two Point Studios game after all – there isn't an element of the game that isn't infused with a touch of silliness and quintessentially British humor. Whether it's the brilliant campus radio stations, the wit in the writing, the bizarre illnesses and injuries your students will pick up and how they manifest, or simply just the silly student and teacher names – although I won't take Sam Rubbish too personally – it's clear the developers have a lot of fun making these games, and that's palpable all throughout Two Point Campus
When things are going well in Two Point Campus it's a fantastic good time, filled with funny quips, hilarious antics, and plenty of satisfying management level interfering. It constantly keeps you learning. Just as you settle into a rhythm, the next campus mixes things up again, adding new elements like marketing to constantly keep you on your toes – so much so that you'll forget to add a crucial service, and suddenly your students are pounding down your metaphorical door.
Thankfully, it's always easy to build an extra room, add more details, or dive into the stats of all your students and staff members. Both on PC with keyboard and mouse and using a controller, Two Point Studios has worked hard to ensure that everything from building to stat management is easy to use and intuitive. That's down to its work on the console ports of Two Point Hospital, but means that everything is slick in that department with Two Point Campus straight out the door. That's especially important as it's launching simultaneously on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and Switch, as well as being available via Xbox Game Pass.
However, Two Point Campus is not without its frustrations, particularly when it comes to the more fussy human-level interactions. There can be a lack of clarity on how to fix larger problems, like bad grades or a dwindling bank balance, so much so that things can quickly spiral out of control, leaving you both in the red and red-faced with frustration. Some solutions might feel like a no-brainer, but such is the interlinked nature of the various elements that contribute to student happiness, there isn't always an easy fix. Two Point Campus is a much more involved sim than Two Point Hospital, and sometimes misses a little of the early stage hand-holding to back that up. But once you get a handle on the unique rhythms of this university simulator, Two Point Campus can be incredibly rewarding, particularly when it gives you the space to appreciate just how fine-tuned the needs of each of your campuses really can be.
Reviewed on PC and Steam Deck with code provided by the publisher.