May 25, 2024

Developed by Squeaky Wheel Studio Inc. Academia: School Simulator is a management tycoon game where players will take the role of a school director and build their own educational institution. The game is out on PC at a price of Rs 599 on Steam.

Like most other games in this genre, Academia: School Simulator is a building and resource management game at its core. Despite having a slight difficulty curve to it the game has a series of well-designed tutorials that explains how everything works through controlled scenarios. There are two modes available for you to play along with plenty of customisation. The sandbox mode allows build the school of your dreams with unlimited resources and no limits, while the career mode is the traditional game mode where you have to manage resources and unlock incremental upgrades.

When you open up your school you will choose how many students you will enroll in each of the four classes – freshmen, sophomore, junior, senior of your school. Each student you successfully enroll gives you a tuition fee which is used to fund your expansion and pay staff salaries. An interesting twist to the otherwise tried and tested formula is how they have meshed the education system into the tycoon mechanics. Instead of simply treating the students as just another population resource, you have to invest in facilities and make sure your students are well educated, because if they fail to understand the curriculum, they will fail that year, and you will be starved of new students and their tuition money.

Every game starts you off with a plot of land upon which you have to build the institution’s facilities, from the admin room to the classrooms themselves and the cafeteria. Each student has needs that must be fulfilled and will live out their school lives without any input from you directly. It will take you a couple of playthroughs to get it right, but once you do, managing your institution becomes a breeze thanks to all the tools at your disposal. There is some general guidance throughout thanks to the goals and overall objectives that you have to meet, but how you reach them is completely up to you.

Beyond constructing your school, you will also have to manage the logistics and rules as well. Manage the class schedule, decide which teacher teaches which subject, manage sick students and hiring counselors for bullies and delinquents, and of course the most important, balancing your budget with expansion goals. The better you are at managing your institution, the more prestige you will earn, and in return attract more students, unlocking new facilities and hiring better teachers to build that dream school.

In terms of quality of life features and overall ease of building the school itself, the game delivers adequately. It’s pretty easy to setup basic structures, and if you can get creative, building some truly marvelous layouts. The amount of information available to you also helps in taking the correct decisions.

What is however an issue, is that the game still suffers from bugs and glitches. Frequently my students would wander around aimlessly trying to find their way around, and there was a time when they refused to get off their bus. A simple restart often fixed most of these bugs but they are annoying at times. The UI can also get in the way of your enjoyment at times, as simple information is often hidden behind a couple of unnecessary clicks, and there was also a lack of graphs and information that is now a staple of this genre.

Visually, Academia: School Simulator is similar to its brethren Rimworld and Prison Architect. A very simple visual style with mostly 2d sprites gets the job done in a charming manner. The soundtrack is also quite relaxing, although it did tend to get repetitive at times.