What a time to be alive! This author grew up on the Bullfrog era of tycoon titles, meticulously managing theme parks and hospitals on a 14” CRT from the edge of his bed. That spirit is very much alive with the Aardman-inspired Two Point series; the excellent Two Point Hospital already reminded patients not to die in the corridor, and now its successor Two Point Campus is about to enrol on PS5 and PS4.
Ever since Rockstar’s brilliant PS2 sandbox Bully, we’ve had a mild obsession with dorm room settings on console, and Two Point Studios’ latest tycoon looks to deliver one of the best yet. On the surface, this appears almost identical to Two Point Hospital, and it is, but the structure has been adapted to accommodate the college format. Your goal is still to make lots of money, of course, but you’re operating on a timetable and with tuition fees now.
So, instead of installing medical facilities to cure a variety of diseases, you’re instead implementing new courses to attract different students. These fluctuate wildly from the relatively mundane – science labs, anyone? – through to the utterly ridiculous, like a Hogwarts-esque wizardry department and the kind of clown college that even Homer Simpson would be tempted to attend.
You need to keep your students happy in order to maximise their XP, which in turn results in better grades. Obviously, the better academic results you earn, the more students you’ll attract, and so the loop goes on. Building facilities, like dormitories and recreation rooms, can help improve the mood of your students, thus boosting their grades.
But it obviously ramps up in complexity, as you compete against rival schools and deal with medical issues and natural disasters. Everything is timetabled, so while you can build and manage your school during term time, you’ll also have the summer holidays to make any crucial adjustments before reopening your doors.
While the presentation is fairly simplistic, the underlying simulation quickly gets quite complex. For example, you need to consider the size and scale of your dormitories, as forcing too many students to share will reduce the amount of rent they pay you. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to encourage relationships between students, so you need to install communal attractions like water coolers and foosball tables.
The campaign follows a level-based format similar to Two Point Hospital, where you’re given very specific tasks and earn stars for completing them. As you can imagine, these scenarios quickly increase in complexity, and will challenge all of your management nous as you deal with rundown buildings, crappy staff, and poor facilities. How are you going to pay off that enormous loan?
The presentation is slick and smooth, and the UI scales well to the DualSense controller. Zooming in on the individual lessons reveals some very amusing animations, as students get to grips with virtual reality headsets or simply blow off steam in the recreation room on arcade machines. Just watching your campus come to life is a lot of fun.
There is a sandbox mode as well for those who prefer to simply create their own school, free from the shackles of set objectives and scenarios. While the gameplay format is largely familiar, as previously alluded, the gameplay feels fresh on account of the school setting; Two Point Hospital was created to recapture the nostalgia of Theme Hospital, but Two Point Campus feels like something truly novel. If you’re a fan of tycoon games, then this has plenty of throwback appeal with an all-new setting.
Please be aware that we played our demo of Two Point Campus on PC, although we tested the pre-release build with a DualSense controller for a more authentic console experience. Will you be enrolling on this tycoon title? Avoid detention in the comments section below.