Full Disclosure – Review Code provided by Klabater. As alway, this has no effect on my score/opinion of the game.
As a human, I have been driven forward through life in the quest for greater understanding, knowledge and financial stability. Naturally, on this epic voyage of self discovery, I once comtemplated abandoning my humanity and starting a souless, heartless, vindictive drug conglomorate. I mean, on the one hand, I cure a few sick people and make a few people sick from side effects (whoopsies). On the other, I get a hefty paycheck. Everyone wins. Almost. So when Big Pharma came around, boy was I excited to live one of my abandoned dreams. Now YOU can be the maniacal architect you’ve always wanted to be.
Big Pharma is a beefy game. It is packing an insane amount of heft that can only be cured by taking one tablet 4 times a day, and suffering through weeks of medicinal constipation. This is because, as I eluded too, in Big Pharma you play as not only a Drug Lord, but also an Architect. You go about your merry day researching which tropical slug goop will cure diabetes, cancer and even erectile dysfunction. After slapping down a handful of evaporators, ionizers and a handy-dandy pill maker, you end up with Toast Brand Viagra, all boxed up and ready to sell.
Of course, making the worlds greatest “enhancer” requires a fair amount of planning and manipulation. Balancing negative side effects, the strength of your drug and the return on investment, all play a major role. Sure, you can cure a flaccid phallus and have no side effects, but is it really worth slashing your profits when you could just let them have a little bit of blindness? Its all down to balancing you books, whilst keeping your personal morals intact.
When it comes to keeping your company afloat, you are going to have to do more than just throw random drugs at the public and hope for the best. As time passes, new conditions will arise resulting in changes to the market. Anti-depressants might become an unpopular treatment, therefore your profits will tank. Perhaps diabetes becomes more prevailant, resulting in greater profits should you invest in a treatment. Then you have rival companies, all of which want to run you out of business. This makes cornering a market and being quick to react to the ebb and flow of the game pivotal to your success. Splash in patents and you can even monopolise treatments, should you have the money to maintain such a costly venture.
All of these intertwining elements make for an beautifully engrossing experience. Hours can pass by in a jiffy if you’re not keeping an eye on the clock, and that is just in the wonderfully addictive Freeplay Sandbox. Big Pharma has a massive selection of challenges for you to undertake, over a dizzying number of difficulties. Make X amount of money over 10 years, sell vast quantities of a specific selection of drugs over 12 months etc. With challenges alone, you could sink 100+ hours into Big Pharma, which is as impressive as Toast Brand Viagra’s list of side effects.
But that’s not all, Big Pharma comes packaged with a toggleable expansion – Marketing and Malpractice. This adds a whole host of new mechanics, some of which enhance your nefarious ways, allowing you to interact and customise your play experince even more. Like I said, Big Pharma is a heft beast.
When I loaded up Big Pharma I was hit with a nostalgia overload. This was in part due the graphics, which just scream ‘Theme Hospital‘. It flooded me with memories of classic sims such as – Theme Park Tycoon, Sim City and even Dungeon Keeper (to a lesser extent). Everything looks incredibly clean and sterile, as to be expected of a based around pharmaceuticals. Despite that style, it is full of charm and interesting animations. Within minutes, you will be able to recognise machinery from their designs, and it just helps tie the package together. I couldn’t help but zoom out and appreciate everything in motion after a 20 minute planning sesh. Things can get a bit choppy once you start designing the Death Star of drug machines, but it never becomes unplayable.
I have two minor gripes with Big Pharma however – controls and tutorial. This is a four year old PC game, ported to a controller, so there are always going to be some issues that crop up due to a lack of buttons available. I found myself, even hours into playing, deleting things by accident, flipping to menus accidentally and messing up conveyor belt placement. It isn’t game breaking, but it was certainly annoying. Tutorial wise, you have a handful of tutorial missions that just drop a giant text box on you, and expect you to read through it. Sure, I can read, but it felt unfinished. It was like someone handed me a word document. That, and the text was tiny, so my twenty-something year old eyes had their squint on for quite an extended period of time.
All that aside though, Big Pharma is a great game. If you want something new, and different to play on your Switch, then this is the game for you. There are not enough games like this on the platform, so if you want to see more, whap out your wallet and show developers you want more. I do, and I am a guy who writes stuff on the internet, so you should agree with me.
Big Pharma is a cracking title that should be played. If they fixed the tutorial and tweaked the controls, you probably wouldn’t see me again. Let me know in the comments below what you think of Big Pharma, and whether or not you want to see more games like this on the Switch.
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