Do you love the simulation genre? Ever wanted to build and manage your own school? Academia: School Simulator would then certainly be the game for you. It is a unique sim experience that will help you build, customize, and run your very own academic institution. From hiring faculty and other staff to designing and managing the appearance, you will be doing it all in this laid back simulation by Squeaky Wheel Studio. It has been in early access for some time (since 2017), but it is finally getting its full launch on January 28th, 2021! I personally can’t wait to see this title get its full release; it’s about time.
It is available on Steam for your regional pricing.
STORY – BEAUTIFULLY SIMPLE
As far as the narrative in Academia: School Simulator goes, it’s surprisingly simple. It is carried out through random events that happen throughout the years, but that’s where it ends. There is not much in the story in this sim, but I didn’t find it lacking as its focus is on simulation, building, and management. The need for a chronicle in this genre is minimal, however. Still, I feel that Squeaky Wheel hit it out of the park by including randomized events, disciplinary issues like truancy and bullies, as well as students that profess love to each other. Overall, this game’s story is quite plain, but I don’t feel like it’s missing a thing. It suits the gameplay and the style of this type of experience.
GAMEPLAY – CASUALLY FUN
In Academia: School Simulator, the options are wonderfully endless. I really enjoy the gameplay most of all about this simulator.
This title is all about customization. From the first options, you will design your crest alongside naming your school and pick a motto. Then it’s on to the difficulty settings and finally, picking a uniform style, your pet/mascot and your style of principal. I can’t get enough of the customization options that this game has to offer. It only gets better as you get into the building phase.
Plan and Build it
Create a layout for your school in this laid back simulator. The reigns are in your hands, and you can pretty much do what you want. Unsure of what to do next? Let the grants guide you! I love how intuitive this section is. It can be a guided step-by-step process, or you can go free form and do what you want. The grants are definitely advised to follow through as they give you more ideas and more money as you go. You’ll need the funds if you want to build a successful academic institution. My first schools were a flop, and I found that I had to start over a few times to get the hang of it. Still, I was having fun, so I didn’t want to stop.
All done building? Great! Next is onto management as you start your year. You will still have grants and goals to guide you, but now you also have students to worry about. There will also be random story events that will occur as you play. These events are your chance to put the fate of your school in your own hands. Make the right choices, and you could find your prestige rising and even some bonus cash in your pockets!
Become the Best
Work on that prestige! The higher your ranking, the more students will want to join your school, and the happier your parents will be. This is vital to becoming the top of the ivy league. More students equal more tuition and more money, so be sure to do what you can to build up and manage the best academy possible. I found this to be quite a challenge, and it took me several centres of learning and playthroughs before I started to see my rankings climb.
The only downside I can say about this game is that the controls can be a little confusing, and certain elements should be a simple couple of clicks, often require you to go in and edit a zone before you can select the option you need. I feel like there may be a more direct, less confusing way to go about this.
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO – ADORABLY CLASSIC
The graphics in this simulation are a casual, pixel-art style that lends to the game’s casual and cute atmosphere. From the classrooms to your students, everything about the graphics is simplistic and enjoyable. The visual effects expertly convey a school’s feeling, especially if you watch the teachers teach in the classrooms and the students on the exercise fields, swimming pools, etc.
As for the audio, it also lends to the casual atmosphere. The music is not exciting but very relaxed, lending to the atmosphere of the title without overpowering it. The audio is mostly the background music and features completion sounds when rooms are built and furnished—the bell at certain intervals and the occasional sounds of traffic going by your institution.
Academia: School Simulator was reviewed on PC via Steam.