Let's School Review: Making the Grade
Let's School is a school management simulator that I won't call "School Tycoon" because there's no real campaign mode. Instead of the flood of scenarios you get in something like Two Point Campus, this has two maps, a bunch of difficulty settings, and three victory goals that you'll try to work towards. It certainly doesn't have the replayability that a more varied campaign would offer, but working on one increasingly complex school for the whole game also helps it avoid the repetitive tedium that killed Two Point Campus for me. Both games have a similar concept, but this is far and away the better game.
The most basic loop you'll go through begins with building a classroom and assigning students from your feeder communities to it. These students have a three year goal of learning enough about two specific subjects, and you'll next assign teachers and classes to their class schedule in order to meet those goals. After that, you might find that the new students have pushed your bathrooms, cafeterias, management admins, or even HVAC over capacity and you'll need to build more of whatever is now lacking. You can send your classes on field trips to nearby communities in order to scout for more students, and those new students you find will have more ambitious goals and more complex needs. Meeting those requires doing research and upgrading your existing facilities, which you'll need more students to pay for. At a high level, that cycle continues until you win.
Speaking of winning, there are three ways to do it. One route finishes when you graduate 20 students with the highest level goals, another needs 250 concurrent students and very high student/staff satisfaction, and the last needs 12,000 building score and having built an advanced wonder. These all sound fairly different, but because of the way the loop I described above works, I think you'd have to try pretty hard to complete one of them without being close to the other two. The best students need so much stuff to graduate that you'll need an advanced building and a lot of other students to fund it all, it's hard to have 250 students without a large building and a decent number of 5 star students, and if you have a 12,000 score building, you've probably filled it with something close to 250 students. The lack of variety here is the game's weakest point. That said, it's still receiving significant updates and it's possible that it'll have more variety between playthroughs in the future.
The other big problem is the difficulty. Although it is reasonably customizable, if you're playing on the default settings, there's not much that can realistically stop you unless you just try to build too quickly. You can tell in advance what you need to do to graduate all your students with perfect grades, and doing that will give you more students and more money to keep the loop going. Occasional disasters are the only things that will mess with your plans, but earthquakes are mostly just annoying and fires will almost never happen as long as you've built a bunch of cheap safety items. This would have benefited from something like difficult short term bonus goals or more variability in student performance to add some risk to the game.
I was able to research everything and could easily have completed the other two victory goals in my one playthrough, so it's unlikely that I'll give this game another go unless future updates or DLCs add major new systems. The other map doesn't look different enough to change much on its own, and the difficulty settings would mostly just make a very similar run take more or less time. Still, I'm happy with my purchase since I got about 17 hours of fun out of it. I'd give this a go if you want a relatively low pressure management game and don't mind that there's very little reason to start a second school.
Time to beat: 17 hours to win once