In addition to our main Game of the Year Awards 2022 (opens in a new tab), each member of the PC Gamer team spotlights a game they loved this year. We’ll be posting new personal picks, along with our main prizes, throughout the rest of the month.
I’ve been enveloped in a cozy blanket of nostalgia playing Two Point Campus (opens in a new tab) this year. Not only has it hit so many of the marks necessary for a great management game, and as a sequel to the fantastic Two Point Hospital it really lives up to its name, but to me it’s more than just a great game.
To me it feels like home.
It’s 1998. I’m six years old, sitting on the futon next to my two-decade-older sister in her sparsely decorated apartment. Cords strewn across the floor, we’ve moved the tiny CRT TV and futon together in the middle of the room to make it easier to see.
The PS1 disc read sound whirs on and soon, on the intermittent flickering screen, the Bullfrog logo appears, etched on blueprint paper. The theme hospital is our happy place.
I recently moved across the country for work, which has meant that I haven’t had much of a chance to see my sister all year. So I needed to find something to fill that void. In 2022, Two Point Campus became my missing-my-sis comfort game. Partly it’s because her other favorite series, The Sims, doesn’t really have the same sentimental air anymore, and partly because it beats her completely slapstick and sarcastic sense of humor.
Between reminders that the staff need to care about the students, and that the “administrator” (that’s you) should stay hydrated – as well as tongue-in-cheek comments about student life that make my previously unhinged self feel personally attacked – tannoy – the announcements 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 full of out-of-this-world teaching methods is truly something else.
And while the clumsy but strangely endearing radio announcers provide another tick in the absurdity box, there’s something genuinely captivating about getting to know the staff through their wacky references. “Found it on the sofa”, “A dirty snake”, “Writing to the mayor”. These may seem like insignificant gumpness to your average hundred percent, but for someone like me who values storytelling so much, these little details are what give my brain the little dopamine hits I crave.
I’m out here considering what the employees’ home lives are like, getting inside their heads and backing myself into a corner with the self-inflicted goal of making sure all employees get a fair wage.
There are countless small absurdities that also give the game life. The idea that a teacher could be trained in aerodynamic ways to help them get to their next class faster is a funny concept in itself, or the fact that students on the Funny Business course will find completely different things inside their wardrobe than those who studying. Archaeology. This game has old disco dancing knights for crying out loud. What more do you want?
And all that humor is just an ornament to the ever-challenging management sim itself. There’s a consistent flow of changing objectives as you unlock new campuses across Two Point County in campaign mode, even if you don’t feel overworked. in contrast to Temasykehuset. These keep you on a constant upward trajectory toward becoming the best campus administrator the world has ever seen, and really make it feel like you’re accomplishing something bigger than yourself. Although you are technically playing with digital dolls.
Like Two Point Hospital that came before it, Two Point Campus has really managed to capture the essence of the original theme hospital from 1997, just with some spiffing upgrades – the ability to design the outer shell of each building, for example, is a game changer .
Even if the Two Point developers had neglected to add these little quality-of-life features, I’d still be on my knees praising the game. It has honestly renewed my love for management games and taken me back, time and time again, to the comforting memory of my sister’s apartment.
I know technically it’s not a cozy game, but to me it is. That’s why it’s my personal pick for game of the year. I really needed a cozy game.