As I gazed out the window of my corner office, I thought of all the people down below who would be the consumers of my new drug. “Sir?” my assistant probed once more, despite having been ignored the last two times. “Our competitor has released a new product with no side effects. What do you want me to tell production?” It was a simple enough question, but one which had resounding implications. We were nearly out of room on the factory floor and adding the necessary machines to eliminate the side effects from our highest selling drug seemed like an impossible task. “Tell them I’ll be down to take a look at the layout,” I finally answered him. He left, but immediately my head of research took his place. “Sir, we have a problem…”
Big Pharma, the simulation/management game from Twice Circled, puts you in the chair of the CEO of an up-and-coming pharmaceutical company and asks you to constantly prioritize your goals. While you start out with a small warehouse space and a few simple machines, your success quickly takes you into the realm of curing cancer, treating a wide range of serious ailments, and turning a tidy profit. However, if you neglect one part of the business, you can find everything crashing down around your ears. Send research teams to find new base components, feed those ingredients through a gamut of various machines designed by your scientists, and create a brand-new medicine to help (or hurt) mankind. All in a day’s work!
The game starts with a few quick scenarios to show you the ropes and review how each screen works in an actual scenario. The controls are easy to learn and the screens themselves are very informative. Then, Big Pharma puts you in a simple match and asks you to give it a shot on your own! I didn’t have too difficult a time applying the tutorials to the actual game, and managed to earn a Master rating on my first try. Feeling good, I quickly breezed through the rest of the beginner levels and moved up to the next scenario.
This time around, the game took off the training wheels and gave you some really nasty competitors to deal with. Though, you also get access to bigger and better machines, a more diverse selection of ingredients, and a far more robust array of final medicines to create. While the beginner stages had felt a little slow, these next levels had me focused 100% of the time! If I wasn’t reacting to every notification that popped up, my competitors were going to win!
Some of the controls are a little touchy, especially when placing machines close to one another and then trying to connect them correctly with conveyor belts. However, these little irritations don’t diminish the game in any way and usually I had enough money to simply delete my mistakes and try again. The world is constantly changing in each scenario, so you have to be quick to react… the ability to toss a machine out and try again is much appreciated! Most of the maps have very different win conditions as well, so you might find that your ‘usual’ playstyle doesn’t work on a certain level. While starting over can be tough, sometimes you work yourself into a corner and you have no other option. You can only take out so many loans before they declare bankruptcy!
All in all, Big Pharma is an excellent management simulation that is a lot of fun to play. Seeing how people react to a drug that cures insomnia but gives nightmares is just one of the little amusements I found while reviewing it! The game does an excellent job of offering scenarios for every skill level and helping you figure out how to step up to the next tier. If you enjoy these sorts of strategy games, I highly recommend giving this one a try!