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Two Point Campus is a sim masterclass built on classroom chaos

Spare a thought for anyone who has tried to keep a young adult functional for any amount of time, never mind happy, socially adept, and educated. Two Point Campus throws you in at the deep end, giving you an entire class of freshmen to house, feed, and teach as they try to finish courses in subjects like Gastronomy and Scientography. It sounds simple, but my class is only in its first academic year, and it's chaos.

Twenty minutes into a first hands-on with the game and I'm in the sort of mental health spiral that comes from only the very best management sims. I obsess about the placement of towels in the shower room but forget the instruction the game gave me to build a college library, so my students are all unable to complete their assignments - including a report on "The Origins of Quiches" – and have angry red icons above their heads. I get started but deciding on a pattern to place the bookshelves in is an existential nightmare all of its own. They must line up perfectly. I'm clearly a terrible college president, but damn it I'm having a good time. 

School of hard knocks

Two Point Campus

(Image credit: Sega)

It all starts with Freshleigh Meadows, a small, unintimidating collection of buildings in a rural setting, complete with canal and thatched cottages. An advisor, Albert Crank, takes me through the usual tutorial stuff, and then I'm straight into building a lab for my Scientography students. There are a few requirements, a weird-looking machine, a board on the wall, and some little flourishes I can add if I'm feeling fancy, like a plant or shelves stocked with dangerously bright liquids. The building is simple, dragging out rooms to different sizes on a grid, choosing furnishings from the menu, and dropping them in place. Then I have to hire a teacher to staff it, open up the college, and start the academic year. So far, so Two Point Hospital, admittedly with less vomit.

The new challenges really come from the fact that you're no longer performing one function for your little people – come in, get healed, go home – but years' worth of needs. They don't just need to pee, they need to shower. They don't just need vending machines to eat, they want variety and food carts. They want to be social at special events, join clubs, and have somewhere to sleep. Students will request rooms or items they need for class, and their grades will start to fall if they don't get them. 

Two Point Campus

(Image credit: Sega)

That's a big deal, because the better your students' results, the more cash you'll have to keep building and improving your school. Making sure you have enough waiting room benches and doctors' offices are relics of a simpler time, now you're trying to scrape together the cash for a stage for your student bar so you can put on a rock concert for your pupils. 

Unlike the patients of Two Point Hospital, each person evolves too, and you can check in on them individually. Maybe student Henrietta Belcher is struggling with class and needs to be sent for some private tutoring? Can you place items that inspire students to be more social, like a water-cooler or a love bench, to help their overall happiness? Your ultimate goal might just be to get them to pass with a decent grade, but with in-game years of interaction and responding to their needs you can't help but start to care about at least a few of them. It's a smart system that only makes the management mechanics more absorbing, rather than getting in their way. 

Art and design class

Two Point Campus

(Image credit: Sega)

Just as with Two Point Hospital, the tools and menus feel familar and accessible. They give you a way to build your campus with just a few clicks, but also hide layers of depth for the true control freaks. Heat maps for hygiene or thirst problem points, ledgers to track the finances, and new building tools to really customize every inch of your schools. Some of the challenges of Two Point Campus feel very familiar, my cavalier use of massive rooms early in the level means that I just don't have space to add the new facilities that I need too for the more advanced courses – like a sweet kitchen for my gastronomy kids – and I'm way too financially overstretched to buy another plot of land. 

I start trying to move whole rooms and squeeze an extra few inches by getting rid of some toilets, but deep down I know that I need to just completely overhaul some existing classrooms. While I'm doing that, there's a small crisis developing because I don't have enough janitors to keep up with the student's detritus, and the place is starting to look more like a Target parking lot after Black Friday than an institute of higher education.

The next campus I'm in charge of is Piazza Lanatra, a city college focused on the culinary arts. I've still got the option to build science and VR labs, but I really need to focus on kitting out the campus with the basics for my Gastronomy students. A savory kitchen, a lecture hall, plumbing, and beds. I build a generous kitchen packed with the essentials and then some extras like dishwashing sinks and mixing stations (not all of these touches are just cosmetic, students need specific equipment as courses progress) and start the academic year. 

My advisor for this campus hints that to make good chefs, the students need access to inspiring foods, so I assume that means a few cheese doodle vending machines aren't going to cut it. I throw down a coffee kiosk and a hot dog stand and hope no one was expecting croquembouche platters or sashimi. You're given everything you need in the menus as you progress through the level, but the fun, cosmetic items, like a Hogwarts-style owl on a perch, you'll unlock with the rarer of the two in-game currencies, Kudosh, that you get from completing certain tasks, rather than just enrolling students. 

Teacher's pet

Two Point Campus

(Image credit: Sega)

If the Two Point Campus hands-on taught me anything, it's that its new August 9 release day will be one to mark in the diary if you're even a casual fan of the simulation genre. Two Point Campus isn't a management sim that's like the real world, and it doesn't want to be. It's a charming, well-balanced take on something we're all familiar with – whether from our own school years or movies – and it plays with all the stereotypes with a dad joke style of humor that's will make you laugh, but is always gentle with its subjects. The full release will only give me more to worry about, with weird takes on college sports (it's cheese-based, apparently) to manage, new types of students like toffs and jocks, and new classes like Knight School. It'll probably cause a small, Two Point specific nervous breakdown, and I can't wait. 

Two Point Campus will be released on PC and consoles on August 9. Want to study up before then? Read our interview with Two Point studio bosses Gary Carr and Mark Webley.

Rachel Weber is the US Managing Editor of GamesRadar+ and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She joined GamesRadar+ in 2017, revitalizing the news coverage and building new processes and strategies for the US team.