Pathea Games has quickly become one of my favorite developers. Their life sims offer a unique blend of gameplay ideas and character interactions. So, naturally, I had to try out their school management sim, Let’s School, to see what unique elements it would bring to the table.
Let’s Manage Our School
The premise of Let’s School is simple enough. Players are put into the shoes of a nameless headmaster in charge of a declining or new school. Their job is to encourage their students in their studies and ensure their staff are well-equipped to handle the fragile minds of the future generation.
A “story” exists in Career Mode, but it primarily serves as a tutorial, focusing on teaching players how to manage their school. This involves navigating menus, building rooms, and training staff. Players will not directly control their Headmaster; instead, they will create schedules the school will automatically follow.
Each year can take between one to three weeks, depending on the speed chosen in the options when starting a new game, and each student that enrolls in your school will have their own stats that need to be trained by your staff via a schedule. These stats will determine whether or not they will pass the class. Whether students fail or pass will affect your school rating, and the game even has checks in place to see just how well they passed. After all, there is a difference between passing with an average grade and passing with an excellent grade.
Every year, players must create a new class for their first years and develop new courses to keep up with the curriculum. Students and faculty will make specific requests to improve the school throughout classes. These can range from enhancing the classroom’s cooling, creating a student council, or adding a break room so teachers can relax when they’re not teaching. Completing these tasks will increase your school’s reputation, which affects several things, not the least of which is how well your students will feel attending it.
Let’s Live and Learn
When I say that you have complete freedom over what you can do to your school, I mean it. Want to make your school a prison? A pyramid? Or maybe make your students feel like they’re in Antarctica? You can do all of that, which means that Let’s School isn’t afraid to put the player in a losing situation, mainly if their actions cause it.
As an example, my first playthrough of the game ended terribly. I had put myself into a losing situation by letting the tutorial choose me. This ultimately created a domino effect: My teachers were unprepared for the second-year students, and my research team was so stressed that they refused to work, effectively preventing progress.
I was stunned I had so effectively mismanaged my school that restarting was my only option to pull myself out of the hole I had dug. I could have taken the loss for that run and tried to recover by firing people, but my Headmaster had already begun declining. This first failure feels almost intentional by design.
Right then, I realized just how Let’s School urges you to try again, but now armed with your knowledge. It quickly helps you realize just how training your staff regularly and what you should prioritize are things you’ll only learn quickly from your failures. During my second playthrough, I also ran into some roadblocks. Still, I persisted, adapted, and overcame.
Let’s Fail Again
In my opinion, this is perhaps a game with such a heavy push and pull on its players, allowing them to fail and reload a save or start from the beginning, which makes Let’s School fun compared to other management-style games. The penalties for messing up aren’t very high, but the fact that one failure can lead to unexpected trouble caused a situation where I was confident enough to try to make a mistake and learn from it.
Even as my school caught on fire, I quickly dealt with the situation the second time it happened. While that incident dealt a blow to my in-game finances, it allowed me to learn how to deal with it. To some, reloading a save file might be frustrating, but in Let’s School’s case, it had never occurred to me that the game was to blame and that everything that happened in the simulation was a result of my own actions. There’s no hand-holding once you get into the weeds.
Let’s Get Some Control
That being said, a couple of weird things can be a bit annoying in Let’s School. The first is that controller support for the title is non-existent. While I concede that mouse and keyboard are the best control styles for a game like this, I prefer to use a controller and, by extension, my Steam Deck, which has been my go-to device for Steam games as of late.
I found a workaround by messing with the controls to make camera movement and zoom be on the right stick, face buttons to control speed, and the D-pad to rotate objects and manage floors. The trackpad was then used as a mouse while the triggers allowed me to the right and left-click. This layout made the game playable on my beloved device.
However, the hassle of getting controller support is disappointing; otherwise, the game would be perfect for on-the-go play. After all, players will spend much of their time on who to travel within situations. arisariseet’s School is a charming take on the school management sim that is hard to put down once started. The freedom of choice can lead to some hilarious circumstances that the player is almost always in control of. This title is necessary for those seeking a new management sim to add to their collection.
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