Windows Central Verdict
Two Point Studios has managed to take a management scenario that would otherwise seem incredibly boring and turn it into a simulator that is both fun and funny to play.
New facial animations make characters feel lively
Accessible to new and experienced sim players
Sharp difficulty spike in later scenarios
Subtitles and alerts overlap and can be difficult to read
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In 2018, Two Point Studios released their first game, Two Point Hospital, and introduced a new generation of players to the wacky and unconventional world of Two Point County. Now they’re inviting players to return to their claymation-inspired world to take over managerial duties for a variety of college campuses in Two Point Campus. Much like its predecessor, Two Point Campus embraces puns and slapstick humor to make an otherwise stiff institution feel more endearing.
In my hands-on preview with Two Point Campus, I had the opportunity to check out just a few of the campuses that players were going to be responsible for in the game. Little did I know at the time just how much more expansive Two Point Campus was actually going to be in its finished state. While I was already impressed with the game’s humor and creative design choices, it turned out to be the challenge and attention to details that hooked me in the end.
Two Point Campus: What you’ll like
If you’re unfamiliar with how to play a management simulator, Two Point Campus has you covered. The first few school scenarios that the game throws new players into are relatively tame, serving as effective tutorials where players can get a grasp on basic gameplay concepts like providing for their students' needs and setting a class curriculum. Players are taught the importance of placing vending machines and benches as well as constructing dormitories and classrooms during these tutorials. Each scenario rewards a star for completing a set of tasks. The tasks increase in difficulty and completing all challenges for a particular scenario will reward the player with a three-star ranking. Players must collect the stars to unlock additional college scenarios around the map of Two Point County.
Scenarios start during the summer break, with the player controlling when they’re ready to start the academic year. During the pre-school year downtime players can take on constructing new campus buildings, landscaping, and make adjustments to the classes that will be offered on their campus. There may also be some requirements for the upcoming year that the player will need to address before getting started, such as hiring additional teachers or building classrooms that meet the needs of the courses being offered. Once your campus is ready, you can start the year.
Housing students, providing them (questionably) nutritional snack options and a path toward a degree is only the beginning of managing a campus. Plenty of things can — and do — go sideways in classic Two Point slapstick fashion. Your campus may be inundated with frog rain, cursed by a jealous witch who sends in meteor showers just to make you miserable, or even the victim of rabid sports fans who harass your hard (or hardly) working students and staff just before the big game. Dealing with most of the issues you’ll run into on your campus, however, is as simple as having adequate, well-trained staff on hand.
Typically, management simulators on console struggle with porting key bindings and shortcuts for menus to controllers. Even Two Point Studio’s previous game struggled with being controller friendly for its Xbox release. Thankfully it seems the studio has learned from its past mistakes, as both the UI and the key bindings for Two Point Campus were developed with the intention to be controller friendly from the beginning. The game’s menus, while robust, are condensed and thought out so that every element can be accessed with no more than just a couple of button presses or mouse clicks.
The menus can provide players valuable data with which they can plan their strategy for how to overcome certain scenarios. Some campuses may be too cold, for example, and a temperature overlay can be used to check that radiator placement is sufficient to warm students up. Similarly, an overlay can also be toggled on or off to check things like student or staff happiness and campus cleanliness. When a student is at risk of failing or dropping out, an alert pops up that allows the player to hone in on that particular troublemaker and deal with them accordingly.
Improved menus and controller bindings are not the only upgrades that Two Point Campus boasts over Two Point Hospital, though. Two Point Campus’ development team has put together a whole new rigging system for facial animations, adding extra life to the already comically animated Two Point countians. These new animations add to the liveliness of the characters, making them feel more believable in this absurd world that they’re a part of.
Two Point Campus: What you won’t like
For all of the things that Two Point Campus gets right, there are still some design choices that feel like missteps that rear their head from time to time. The earliest levels of the game are incredibly simplified and can feel like they’re holding back more advanced players even when it comes to their three-star challenges. Alternatively, the difficulty spike outside of those tutorial scenarios is surprisingly sharp, and it could be off-putting for someone who is dipping into management simulators for the first time.
Two Point Campus makes use of both a cash currency and an in-game currency called Kudosh. Kudosh is also necessary for unlocking items related to student classes, such as class-specific bookcases or learning stations. These items can be required for a student to pass a class, but there are no lists of required items for students or indications that these may become necessary items before they actually do. In the case of some items, like class-specific bookcases, they are not even available to unlock prior to a student needing it. If you spend your limited amount of Kudosh before receiving an alert that these items are needed, you can quickly find yourself in a tight predicament where a large number of students are failing, considering dropping out, or refusing to pay their fees.
The more a player finds themselves struggling, the more pop-ups and alerts begin to inundate the player’s screen. One notification may alert that there are five students considering dropping out, but then immediately be followed up by additional alerts for each individual student who is having a problem. It can be nice to click an alert and immediately be focused on the problem student so that you can attempt to fix their issue, but when these alerts are rapidly taking over the notification area they can simply get overwhelmed and lose track of what issue you’re specifically trying to take care of.
To add to the chaos and clutter, turning on Two Point Campus’ subtitles places them squarely over the notification area. The subtitles have white text with a semi-transparent black background which, when layered over top of the text box for notifications can result in an absolute mess that makes both elements difficult to read.
Two Point Campus: Should you buy it?
The management simulator genre can be a difficult beast to tackle. Oftentimes games in this genre are bloated with menus and overlays along with a myriad of choices that can quickly overcome a beginning player. Two Point Campus does an excellent job of trimming the fat around the menus and options to keep things simplified enough that pretty much anybody can pick it up and give it a try while still leaving enough depth to keep hardcore sim fans actively engaged.
The menu layout, however, means nothing if the game itself is not fun. This is where Two Point Campus shines the brightest. Courses that you can offer on campus feature humorous wordplay like Gastronomy and Funny Business, and you can’t help but smile as you watch your students whip up a giant pizza in the kitchen you have built to serve as their classroom. There’s something incredibly satisfying about challenging a rival school to a Cheeseball tournament and then seeing your students full of life after a victory. Realistically, the idea of managing a college campus is something that sounds dull and uninteresting, but through the sheer willpower of wit and whimsy, Two Point Studios has succeeded at making it not just a fun experience but a funny one, as well.
Two Point Campus is an Xbox Play Anywhere title and can be accessed seamlessly on both Xbox and PC. While I personally found the game better suited to playing with a mouse, the controller scheme is plenty suitable, and it is perfectly reasonable to switch between both platforms. Regardless of whether I was on PC or Xbox, the game played flawlessly and never experienced any crashes or instability. Two Point Campus launches on Xbox Game Pass, so regardless of whether you're an experienced sim manager or you're looking to dip your toes into the genre for the first time, you can try out Two Point Campus.
Two Point Campus
Puns and slapstick humor come together to make managing a variety of college campuses a hilarious endeavor.
Buy from: Microsoft (Xbox)
Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.