Big Pharma Review, or how I loved running an evil pharmaceuticals empire
Our review system will function on a scale of 1-10. Scores will be considered on the basis of five main categories. Design, Execution, Functionality, Enjoyment, and Value. Failures in these areas will affect the score of a game based on the severity of the failure.
Big Pharma is a delicious mix of simulation, economics, and logistics puzzles. It’s just the kind of game I enjoy when it comes to simulators. The game us being developed by Twice Circled. It also helps that the game is published by Positech games, the makers of such wonderful games as GTB, and Democracy 3. Simulations which I still enjoy immensely.
Big Pharma is a game all about running your own pharmaceuticals business. And surprisingly, it’s packed with elegant social commentary, complex but easy-to-use mechanics, and a bit of ethical quandary. Will you cure the world but ruin your business? Will you focus entirely on profit motive and laugh at all the sickly peasants? Big Pharma will definitely try to answer that question for you.
The game includes a variety scenarios with increasing difficulty that do a spectacular job of taking the player through the vast array of features on offer. Also included is a free build mode that grants the freedom to start from scratch without any particular restrictions and take your company to the top of the drug ladder.
Starting out, with a few simple ingredients and basic machinery, the player must plan their production chain within their factory with one goal in mind; efficiency. Solving logistical problems like how many of a specific refinement tech to buy and place into production will become commonplace. Luckily, despite the appearance of difficulty, these kinds of solutions follow a logical pattern that any dedicated player can turn into second nature.
For most players, there will likely be some trial and error when it comes to figuring out what courses of action work best. Luckily, the game is fairly forgiving to mistakes, at least the ones that can be easily corrected by the player. Choosing the wrong combination of catalyst or ingredient at the wrong time (Such as putting out a worse version of an existing competing product) won’t be the end of your company as long as you catch it in time. The game’s pause function that stops your competition from getting ahead while you make decisions or analyze finances is something players should make liberal use of.
The game also includes various other mechanics to further complicate the mountain of tasks you have to deal with. Researching new machinery, ingredients, and catalysts will be a fixture of success in the world of Big Pharma. Players can also engage in a bit of legal maneuvering with patents to secure temporary dominance in a market before their competitors. And if the company ends up in dire straits, loans can be secured from various lenders to keep the company afloat.
All in all, Big Pharma is a great game that is worth the $20 price. Especially with the 20% discount on Steam at the time of writing. The overall design and execution are solid, even given that it's just out of beta. A few technical hiccups that seemed to be random did affect my initial playing experience, but testing the game on a second PC with better hardware saw no issues. The only real problem for the game is that it only serves a certain niche of gamers who like economics and simulation in their gaming experience. So the game has limited appeal there. Also, the difficulty in some of the later scenarios was a bit much for me to wrap my head around. The competition was more ruthless than I was expecting, and this did hurt my personal enjoyment a bit. All things considered, I still cannot blame the game itself for most of these flaws. I am also curious to see what kind of mods the community can create, as modding communities are great at introducing new features and content. I expect this game will see a lot of activity for me in the coming months.
- Design (9/10)
- Execution (9/10)
- Functionality (8/10)
- Value (8.5/10)
- Enjoyment (8/10)
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