Big Pharma, perhaps not the combine-harvester operator I had envisioned when first heard about this game, but it’s a big beefy butch number all the same. A big butch beefy number with drugs. Oh my.
What is Big Pharma? In short, Big Pharma is a factory simulation game. Now I’m new to this style of game myself, but it appears that this genre not only is a real thing, but they’re actually quite popular with a number of these games already on the market. We ourselves have covered the likes of Infinifactory, a Factorio preview is in progress with us, and now this. That’s just to name a few. Yes my lovelies, factory gaming sims seem to have their own genus and not only that, from what I’ve seen, they’re rather good.
Big Pharma differs and specialises insofar as it has you running a pharmaceutical factory and business.
Ethics. Ethics are at the heart of many people’s fears when it come to drugs companies and is the crux of this game. Prescription drugs are big business and there is a common fear and belief that the multinational drugs companies don’t have the true interests of their patients close to their hearts. From absolute catastrophic affects on people lives- as in the case of Thalidomide, to global fraud and downright taking the piss- in the case of useless flu vaccines and the likes. Then we have the debates around long term medicines for chronic and terminal illnesses; why rush to find a cure for HIV/AIDS when the treatments to keep HIV stable in people bring in £10K+ a year in revenue. I have lost friends and lovers to HIV and been an activist in that field, the belief is not uncommon and given some drugs companies track records with ethics, probably not unfounded. Take a second and Google drug company scandals, it really is a bit of a cesspit.
So, I’ve talked about dead friends and lovers, HIV and AIDS. All a bit serious huh!? This is a game! This is fun! Big Pharma is fun, but Big Pharma does want you to use your noggin somewhat. So let me get on and try my best to tell you how it all works and plays.
How it all works and plays I said. I have to confess that Big Pharma really did hurt my brain just a touch. For those of you that know me will realise that it doesn’t take a lot for my intellect to crack.
I will use the game Minecraft as an analogy for how Big Pharma plays. Think of the how production works on Minecraft; you pop an ore in the furnace, ore gives you metals, metals give you more materials to play and build with, which then unlock more options to find better ores. So on and so on. Big Pharma brings in a production line approach, with pharmaceutical factory machines of all shapes/sizes and abilities to take the role of the furnaces of games like Minecraft.
So for me to try and explain things even simpler. You import psychoactive ingredients into your factory. With the use of your various machines, you change the effect of that ingredient and condense/purify/manipulate them with various devices which are at your disposal. Or, using the research section of your interface, you develop and improve these substances to make more potent drugs and cures. The downside to all of this manipulation is nasty side effects for your drugs.
You can also hire explorers at a cost to find more ingredients, you can hire scientists to research more technologies to make your empire of cure grow. Money. Money is at the heart of Big Pharma and given the industry that the game emulates, too right it should. Everything has a cost, from the intricate network of conveyer belts and machines on your production line, to your research and exploration. This where the game manages to bring in the ethical component of Big Pharma (I knew there was a reason for my diatribe at the beginning of this preview).
Get those combinations on your production line wrong and you can end up selling some nasty little concoctions to your fragile and needy patients, at the same time finding your business on the brink of collapse. Do you sell the drug to your unsuspecting patients for a fast profit, or follow the principled route at a risk to your empire.
I really struggled with some aspects of Big Pharma’s mechanics. I’m completely in the belief that this was a me thing rather than the game, but I really did find it a labour to grasp what each machine on the factory-line was used for. I could copy parrot fashion what I was supposed to do to get the right effect in my drugs, but often I failed to fully understand as to why.
Big Pharma is in Beta now (or at least at my time of writing). Once your industry is at full swing, it really is something quite marvellous, but it does ask that you use your brain just a bit too much for the likes of me. There’s a lot of game here and a lot of depth, dedicated gamers and lovers of sims will get a lot out of it.
Many updates are already on the way, I do hope more in-depth tutorials become part of them.
Wishes and Hope for Final Game
For More Detailed Explanations
Inject Some More Outlandish Drugs and Side Effects