In addition to our main Game of the Year Awards 2022 (opens in a new tab), each member of the PC Gamer team highlights a game they loved this year. We’ll be posting new Personal Picks, alongside our main rewards, throughout the month.
I was enveloped in a soft blanket of nostalgia while playing Two Point Campus (opens in a new tab) This year. Not only did it hit as many points as needed for a great management game, and as a sequel to the superb Two Point Hospital, it truly lived up to its name, but to me it’s more than just a awesome game.
For me, it’s like home.
It’s 1998. I’m six years old and I’m sitting on the futon next to my two-decade-old sister in her sparsely decorated apartment. Wires strewn across the floor, we moved the tiny CRT TV and futon together to the middle of the room for easy viewing.
The PS1 disc playback sound hums and soon, on the periodically flickering screen, appears the Bullfrog logo, engraved on blue paper. The theme hospital is our happy place.
Recently, I moved across the country for work, which meant I haven’t had much luck seeing my sister all year. So, I needed to find something to fill that void. In 2022, Two Point Campus has become my comfort game for my missing sister. That’s partly because his other favorite franchise, The Sims, doesn’t quite have that sentimental air anymore, and partly because it nails his thoroughly slapstick, sarcastic sense of humor.
Between reminders that staff should care about students and that “the admin” (i.e. you) should stay hydrated – plus ironic comments about student life that make my past self uni-bonded feels personally attacked – tannoy ads are one of the most delightful things about Two Point Campus. The humor they bring to the experience of designing a whimsical, pun-infested campus brimming with out-of-this-world teaching methods is really something else.
And while goofy but oddly expensive radio announcers provide another tick in the absurdity box, there’s something truly captivating about getting to know your staff through their goofy credentials. “Found in the sofa”, “A dirty snake”, “Written to the mayor”. These may seem unimportant to your average hundred percent, but for someone like me who places such a high value on storytelling, these little details are what give my brain the little dopamine hits I crave. urge.
I’m here thinking about what life is like at the staff home, getting in my head and backing into a corner with the self-inflicted goal of making sure every member of staff receives a fair wage.
There are also countless little absurdities that bring the game to life. The idea that a teacher can be trained in aerodynamics to help them get to their next lesson faster is a hilarious concept in itself, or the fact that students of the Funny Business course will find very different things in their wardrobe than those who study. Archeology. This game has disco-dancing knights of old to shout out loud. What else do you want?
And all that humor is just an adornment to the ever-challenging management sim itself. There’s a steady stream of changing objectives as you unlock new campuses in Two Point County in campaign mode, though you don’t feel overwhelmed. unlike the theme hospital. These keep you on a steady upward trajectory to become the best campus administrator the world has ever seen, and really make you feel like you’re achieving something bigger than yourself. Even though, technically, you’re playing with digital dolls.
Much like Two Point Hospital that preceded it, Two Point Campus really managed to capture the essence of the original 1997 theme hospital, only with a few stunning upgrades – the ability to design the exterior shells of each building is a game-changer , for instance.
Even if the developers at Two Point had neglected to add these little quality of life features, I’d still be on my knees to praise the game. Honestly, it reinvigorated my love for management games and brought me back, to many times, to that comforting memory of my sister’s apartment.
I know technically it’s not a comfortable game, but for me it is. That’s why it’s my personal pick of the game of the year. I really needed a comfortable game.