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Big Pharma (PC) Review

Big Pharma Game Logo Header
Big Pharma Game Logo Header
Big Pharma Game Logo Header

At a Glance...

Formats: Windows (Reviewed), Mac & Linux
Final Score
8/ 10

User Rating
1 total rating


We liked?

  • Addictive business simulation that will suck away the hours as you try to build the world's most profitable pharmaceutical company

Not so much?

  • The game interface doesn't quite keep up with the complexity of the harder missions – you may find it hard to navigate between production lines

Final Fiendish Findings?

You’ve just been put in charge of a new pharmaceutical company, and it’s time to start making pills – and profit.

Posted October 19, 2015 by

Full Fiendish Findings...

ou’ve just been put in charge of a new pharmaceutical company, and it’s time to start making pills – and profit. Seek out raw ingredients, build up production lines to refine them into finished products, research upgraded technology and fight off rivals to ensure that your company remains number one. Is saving lives and getting rid of unwanted side effects really more important than the bottom line? As the big boss, you decide!

Business simulation games often have an addictive quality to them, and Big Pharma is no different. You start out with a brand new company, an empty factory and some raw ingredients, and from there you must build a thriving pharmaceutical company. On the shop floor, this starts out pretty simple – you have to build a production line that refines your ingredients by passing them through various machines to alter their concentration, then prints them as a pill that can be sold for a profit.

Big PHarma Screenshot 2

Sounds straightforward? Well, it is, but that’s just the beginning. As you delve deeper into the game, there’s a lot more to do. Need to find new ingredients? Hire some explorers and send them out into the wild to bring back fresh cures? Need more sophisticated machines to process your drugs? Get your scientists on the case to research faster and cheaper technologies. And whilst your skilled workforce is out on their respective missions, there’s plenty to do back in the factory. Using ever more advanced production lines, you can upgrade the active effects of your drugs, reduce side effects, and even mix effects from different raw ingredients into a single drug. Just make sure that the end result is profitable, and that you don’t run out of floorspace – if you invest time and money in processing all those unfortunate side effects out of a drug, you might find that you’re actually losing money on each pill!

As if that wasn’t enough, whilst you struggle to make a going concern of your own business, rivals will also be setting up their own company. With rival patents sometimes stopping you from selling your own medication, world events affecting the demand for various cures, and running costs all adding up, it can sometimes be hard to turn a profit.

Big PHarma Screenshot 1

With all this to take into consideration, getting started on Big Pharma might sound a little daunting – in fact, after going through the game’s tutorial missions, I did feel a bit daunted. Fortunately, the game has a plethora of graded missions, from Beginner through Advanced, that lets you take things at your own pace. On Beginner level, the settings are tweaked so you don’t really have to worry about the more complicated stuff unless you really want to, whilst the harder missions just throw you in at the deep end with aggressive rivals patenting drugs left and right, costs mounting, and high interest loans providing short term cash boosts that lead to huge daily repayments. All that being said, the game remains absorbing and fascinating even when you’re thousands of dollars in debt and desperately trying to pay off a loan, and even if it does all go pear shaped, individual games are only a few hours each at most, so it’s easy enough to just start over. And if you don’t want to play a set mission, you can always set up a custom build or free play game and just play at your own pace under your own conditions.

Big PHarma Screenshot 4

As far as the interface goes, on the whole, Big Pharma is fairly easy to navigate, with separate screens for your research, exploration, company profits and cures. One thing that does get a bit hard to navigate is the factory itself – once you’ve got lots of complicated production lines set up, it’s easy to forget what you’re actually making at any one time, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to jump straight to a particular drug to quickly make changes – or simply check which drugs you’re actively making at any one time. This is particularly annoying when your rivals take out patents and your production lines keep sending you messages saying a particular drug somewhere cannot be sold – although there is a menu option that will automatically jump to the site of the problem, there’s no way to do it manually if you’d rather finish what you were doing and then go over and fix it. You do have a list of all drugs you’ve ever made on your company tab, but there’s no option to click on an entry in the list and be whisked to where that drug is being exported.

Big PHarma Screenshot 3

Whilst clearly meant to add to the challenge, some players might find the limitations on factory space annoying – instead of just working in an ever expanding rectangular space, you are often confined to small, non-contiguous rooms that will restrict your ambitions to create the world’s most complex production line. You are also restricted as to the places where you can import and export drugs, and sometimes an import or export socket will be basically unusable by the time you’ve set up an adjacent production line. The conveyor belts that connect machines can also be tricky to place – sometimes they aren’t smart enough to figure out where or in which direction you want them to go, and making a mistake can be costly. If you’re finding your layout a bit confusing, there is an option to repaint your conveyor belts or factory floor to delineate different production lines, but the cost of this can add up for what is purely a cosmetic change, and is probably only for the endgame where you have loads of money and not much to do with it.

Final Thoughts

Despite a few niggles with the interface, overall Big Pharma is a worthy entry into the business simulation genre. It’s absorbing, fun to play, and with lots to keep you occupied in a single game – try it out and you too will get sucked into the world of the pharmaceutical business.


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