The classic tycoon game feels like a rarity in this day and age. Many of the newer titles in the genre focus on visuals and creative freedom over managing finances and traditional business-driven gameplay. This change makes sense, as many players prefer to jump into sandbox mode and create something beautiful rather than practical. But at times it can feel like the challenge that used to define management games has been lost. It’s that challenge that games like Two Point Campus are trying to keep alive.
Two Point Campus is a management game that tasks you with running a successful university. It’s developed by Two Point Studios, which best known for making Two Point Hospital, although the studio’s history with tycoon games dates further back. Studio founders Mark Webley and Gary Carr worked on Theme Park and Theme Hospital, some of the earliest examples of great tycoon games.
Balancing the books
Those that have played Two Point Hospital will feel right at home playing Two Point Campus. Many of the same measurement metrics used to determine the success of your establishment have been brought across. Patient happiness is now student happiness, and cure rate has become pass rate, but the same principles remain.
Much like Two Point Hospital, the main goal of Two Point Campus is to expand while keeping your finances in check. Expanding too quickly will plummet you into debt, while not expanding fast enough can hurt your student’s living standards and education.
In most cases, this system works well and offers a good challenge. Knowing when to expand and what you should add next is a learning experience but a fun one at that. The more you play, the more you’ll figure out how many private tutors you need, how big your library has to be, and so on. It’s these smaller individual challenges that help differentiate a newcomer from a series veteran. They also improve replayability, as players continue to discover new, small optimizations that they weren’t taking advantage of beforehand.
The downside to the criteria used to measure success in Two Point Campus is that it’s easily manipulated. Rather than building an authentic university, it’s usually better to just cram rooms together, add the necessary items, and then only adding additional items to fulfill student requests. This approach is efficient but produces ugly and unrealistic campuses. It’s a shame that Two Point Campus isn’t stricter on this, but to be fair, it’s an issue found in most management games. Just think of the horrendous road systems people construct in Cities: Skylines to force traffic to behave.
With its many mechanics, Two Point Campus can get fairly complicated. You have to keep students happy, make a profit, train your staff, expand your campus, maintain equipment, and much more. Having all of these mechanics active at once runs the risk of the gameplay becoming overwhelming, but it never gets to that point.
Two Point Campus avoids this problem by introducing new mechanics in a streamlined way that’s easy to follow. When you play through the main scenarios mode, each campus introduces one or two new mechanics. You start out by figuring out the basics, and a new layer of complexity is added with each campus.
This progression model makes Two Point Campus an incredibly accessible management game. Even if you’ve never played a tycoon or management game in your life, you should be fine. Two Point Studios has done an exceptional job of explaining just about everything you’ll ever need to know.
Don’t be mistaken into thinking that Two Point Campus is only for newcomers, though. The later challenges require a good understanding of how to get the most out of your campus. Plus, if you really just want to build to your heart’s content, there’s a sandbox mode where you have infinite money. You’ll have to unlock it first, but that doesn’t take too long.
It’s no secret that Two Point Studios is a British studio that embraces its culture. Think of some other iconic UK-based developers and the games they have made. Some popular examples include Fable, RuneScape, and even Grand Theft Auto V.
British games tend to be very tongue in cheek and don’t take themselves too seriously. Two Point Campus is no exception to that rule. As you build away there are radio stations that play songs from the game’s soundtrack with witty dialogue filling the gaps in between. This is further complimented by the campus announcer’s humorous announcements and the fun flavor text captioning every item and room.
Some people may have preferred a more serious take on the genre, but I think Two Point Campus is exactly what it should be. Why bother studying English Language or Medical Science when you can study Wizardry or the most useful degree of all, Internet History.
The tone of Two Point Campus isn’t profound or deep, it’s dumb and fun. That won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I really like it. There are enough gritty and dark narrative tales already. A game that is more laid back but still offers a good level of mechanical complexity is exactly what I needed.
Two Point Campus is an amazing game. It manages to remain accessible without alienating those more familiar with management games. It’s unique sense of humor and wonderful presentation help it stand out in a crowded genre.
The only true shortcoming of Two Point Campus is that some may find it too familiar. It doesn’t have that many notable innovations when compared to Two Point Hospital. Although, given how beloved Two Point Hospital is, that might not be such a bad thing.