I've never liked finance-focused management games because seeing money dwindle causes me an odd amount of stress. Even when my wife bought Planet Zoo for me to play during quarantine, I couldn't get into it; the stress of bankruptcy really withers the fun of decorating and managing for me. So when Two Point Campus was announced, I figured it was as good as any game to learn how to play this genre; after all, with those cute graphics and silly humour, it's surely noob friendly!
Like I said, I've never been capable of getting through a management sim before, but I do know a thing or two about the genre (due to my multiple failed attempts at getting into it). Thanks to that, when I started Two Point Campus, I wasn't hopelessly lost. I knew I had to finish the missions on the right side of the screen — things like having a Science Lab or dorms. What I didn't realise was that you don't have to complete those within the span of the school year — you can take it slow and finish them as you progress throughout multiple years, except for a few that are required to be completed during a set amount of time (such as making classrooms). Because I didn't get punished for failing to level up the campus' stars, it was much easier to focus on the things that do end your run — such as too many students failing or people quitting their job/dropping out of the university.
In the game, campuses work as tutorials and slowly increase the difficulty. That means that unless you pass on to the next ones, you won't unlock some of the features. I didn't know this, so I played on the first campus, hoping to bring it to completion. Although I managed to pass the first one without failing, the second campus was much harder, and I had to restart twice. Additionally, the game didn't do a very good job at explaining many of its mechanics; however, I don't know if that is because I'm also new to the franchise itself or if they just failed to explain them properly. Regardless, every time I felt like I had gotten the grip of the game and could ace the next one, I'd find myself struggling yet again; I would also get pretty discouraged seeing I was failing at the tutorial campuses.
The reason is that, although Two Point Campus has a fantastic loop where the happier the students are, the more money you make (creating an easy snowball), that alone won't help you pass with flying colours. This happens because the game has a lot of features and mechanics, and although the developer tried introducing them slowly through the several tutorial campuses, the information given was sometimes quite vague. For example, I didn't understand until Noblestead (the fourth campus) that my students were constantly unhappy about their dorms despite having an entire building for themselves because they preferred bigger but fewer rooms. The way the game worded it — by saying I can either make more or better the existing ones — made me think that I could just add additional decor or make 10 more dorms. Additionally, whenever I would hover over the graphs or icons, nothing ever explained the issue properly.
The problem didn't get easier as the game went on, as I continued being very confused about what was causing the unhappiness of the students and staff. Although I learned ways to remedy some of these vague mechanics enough to not lose the run or become bankrupt, I would remain stagnated on missions and was unable to get stars. This caused me to stay stuck on the same campuses, with the bar of happiness being nearly full, yet seven students failing and one threatening to drop out. This happened because, despite me having numerous vending machines and restaurants around the campus, students were still hungry; regardless of how packed with games the lounge was, students were still bored; and even if I had four private tutoring rooms, they were still failing. I didn't (and still don't) understand why or how to remedy any of these things.
Unfortunately, that isn't the only thing confusing about the mechanics, as despite my 27 hours of playing, I still don't know what the management courses do, how to raise or lower the staff pay, how to know if you have enough staff for all the jobs, how to properly use the timetable… the list goes on.
That being said, the game does try to be helpful through multiple graphs and tips. Additionally, if you're struggling to understand something, there are always guides and tips and tricks, none of which were available for me due to the early access. So keep this in consideration! You can also just go back to the previous campuses and play there for a while more to make sure you didn't miss any vital information (or just practice and experiment), as each one has its own funds and progress, meaning you can return to them whenever and not worry about losing anything. The only thing shared between the campuses are the items you unlock through Kudosh, a currency you get through completing missions and challenges. Thanks to that, even the restarting of the campus doesn't give any penalty — you just start again fresh, as if you'd just entered that level. The problem is that, until you've finished all the tutorial levels, there will always be a limit to how much you can progress on the campus, as you won't have access to key features, like training the staff or the research centre, which is vital for unlocking things.
If you're not sure you like management games (or know you don't but are still stubbornly trying to like them like me), Two Point Campus might be one of the better titles to try getting into it. Despite how confusing everything is and the many mechanics at play, it only became overwhelming and stressful whenever there was something I didn't fully understand how to fix. Otherwise, I think the game is one of the most forgiving management sims I've tried, and it's very well-paced, too, because the developers took their time with tutorials. If you take some time to search online or read up on some guides, there's no doubt in my mind that Two Point Campus is a good starting point for any management amateur.
All in all, keep in mind that, at its core, Two Point Campus is a management sim and will be overwhelming and frustrating sometimes, so if you're still not sure about it, maybe just pick it up at a discount!