Two Point Campus certainly makes the passing grade thanks to its unrelenting sense of humour and occasionally brilliant level concepts, but too much repetitive busywork keeps it from getting top marks.
I have mixed feelings as I write this Two Point Campus review. On the one hand, it can be tedious having to constantly repeat the same tasks at the start of every campaign level. But, on the other hand, the day-to-day management of each university is joyous, with constant gags and charming good looks camouflaging some fiendish gameplay twists that require all of my grey matter to overcome.
The general aim in every level is to get students through the academic year, achieving high grades and keeping smiles on their faces. You have a checklist of goals to achieve, and completing them nets you stars, which you can use to progress to the next level. Every level introduces a new academic course, and each one is based entirely on a pun. In Two Point Campus, jokes are everywhere you look, from your students’ goofy get-up to course names that even fans of groan-worthy zingers will roll their eyes at. There’s a curriculum for suspender-wearing swots who want to look back at how technology used to work called ‘Internet History’, while ‘Funny Business’ is a qualification for aspiring clowns – and yes, red noses, silly wigs, and comedy flowers must be worn by students at all times. Although some objectives are remarkably similar to those in Two Point Hospital, such as maintaining happiness and meeting quotas, each campus usually has one themed challenge to make it feel entirely unique.
Two Point Campus’ campaign does a great job of easing players in gently with its colourful, expressive visuals and simple-to-use interface. Item placement is simple and intuitive, so building rarely feels like a chore, and I love having the option to customise various objects and even staff members’ clothing. Menus are easy to navigate, with multiple tabs separating out key information so it’s always easy to find what you’re looking for, whether that’s item requests from students to help them achieve their personal goals or quickly checking in on the mood in the staff room.
On paper, this sounds like an appealing prospect. Sadly though, every level in Two Point Campus starts out in the exact same way. Before I can welcome the students for their first year, I need to build dormitories for them to stay in, showers to wash in, and bathrooms to… well, you know. After that, I have to build lecture theatres, libraries, private tuition rooms, medical and pastoral treatment facilities, and break areas for staff and students. They all need building before I can even think about creating the unique learning spaces my legion of lecturers use for practical lessons. It’s frustratingly repetitive as the game asks you to build these rooms and shove a load of stuff in them to tick off a few arbitrary boxes rather than incentivise you to personalise each one. The few times the game gives me prebuilt rooms, I find myself having to sell them off to rebuild them because they don’t make efficient use of the limited space.
Once these first rooms are built, getting to grips with any level’s unique restrictions is where the real meat of Two Point Campus is, and for the most part it’s immensely enjoyable. It takes mere minutes for me to go from laughing at a level’s hilarious concept to swearing at the screen when I learn what its unique gameplay gimmick is. Spiffinmoore – Two Point’s take on Hogwarts – challenges you to withstand waves of wicked wizards, and it takes me an embarrassing amount of time to employ enough assistants with magical elixirs and water pistol-wielding janitors to weed out these sleazy ne’er-do-wells.
I still have a good time with this management game despite the big difficulty spike. The most fun Two Point Campus offers me is during my time as administrator of the sporting academy, Fluffborough, where it’s my job to train elite athletes to become regional champions, in addition to running a state-of-the-art university. But, of course, being a Two Point game, there is a twist here: the sport we specialise in is wholly made up. I cried with laughter during the entire first game of ‘cheeseball’, in which two teams wearing mouse-like helmets take turns yeeting wheels of Edam into massive holes, all while the opposing team attacks each rolling cheese with comically oversized graters.
This absurd sense of humour courses through Two Point Campus’s veins, and while I quickly tire of the repetitive, laboured jokes that crackle out of the tannoy systems, the dad joke onslaught lands more often than it has any right to. The names of each individual lecture are a particular highlight, with my personal favourite being the first countercultural studies lecture – “Come to This Class: A Lesson in Irony”.
The technical issues are less fun. Whenever I can’t place an item or room somewhere, it’s because of a bug in the janitor’s behaviour where they seemingly can’t be bothered to sweep up the mess from a natural disaster or spell, no matter how many times I place them next to the offending mess. Instead, they leave a red marker that stays there for the rest of the level, in one case making it impossible for me to move my library to a more suitable location. It’s worth noting that Two Point Studios acknowledges that there are issues with room placement that they are currently fixing, but it’s so persistent in the review build that it spoils the game considerably – fingers crossed it’s patched out in time for release.
If you enjoyed Two Point Hospital’s sense of humour, or just fancy a lighthearted management game, then there’s a lot to love about Two Point Campus. It doesn’t do anything especially new, and there’s not enough depth to satisfy fans of more po-faced simulation games, but it’s charming and packed with enough quality gags and surprises to make the journey through each campus exciting.