Big Pharma + Marketing & Malpractice DLC – Review
Follow Genre: Management Sim
Developer: Twice Circled
Publisher: Positech Games
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Big Pharma + Marketing & Malpractice DLC – Review

Site Score
Good: Great fun and the DLC adds even greater complexity
Bad: Eventually becomes repetitive
User Score
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Big Pharma is a drug empire management simulator from the one-man games studio Twice Circled. Whether you want to build an empire of riches off the back of the diseased and dying, or you’re just in it to cleanse the world of sickness and help humanity, Big Pharma is your sandbox to do just that. Discover new ingredients, find their medicinal value, and manufacture medicine for the masses, but above all, make a profit.


As you might expect, story does not play a major role in a management simulator. You can choose from a variety of scenarios with different goals needed to win, and this is as close to a storyline as we are going to get.

A Theme Hospital style campaign would have been wonderful here, where you start in a tiny building with the most basic of resources and have to prove yourself in each level to see what new opportunities will open up for you with each new achievement. An arena for you to slowly grow your brand as you come to grips with some of the games more complex features, and get to know your bitter enemies in the form of opposing corporations. Alas this is not the case, but Big Pharma walks its own path and has its own way of making you experience the game, which actually does help improve the replayability of the title.


Visually, Big Pharma is very clean and simple, yet surprisingly beautiful. With all variety of crazy machines and processes pumping back and forth across your factory, don’t be surprised if you lose yourself in the tangle of bright colours and whirring machinery.


You can watch each of your ingredients transform between bright powders, dark vials of liquid and shimmering gas canisters. Each machine has its own unique animation as it whisks, whirrs or crushes its contents. There are even snippets of striking landscapes and strange plants and creatures for you to choose from, in order to send your explorers out and find the source of the next wonder drug. We were pleasantly surprised at the amount of effort that has been put into the little details like this, even down to the icons and GUI, and they really add up to create a rather distinct feel.


The music is catchy and not too annoying, a must for any simulator game that threatens to take hours of your life, and the sound effects again show great attention to detail on the part of the developer. Each device and process has its own little sound effect, to the clack of the pill printers to the hiss of the evaporators. All of this is overshadowed however by the all encompassing whirr of the conveyor belts, which drowns most, if not all of the other sounds.

There is also an announcer that keeps you up to date with things like your research completing or opponents launching new drugs. While this is helpful in making sure that you don’t miss anything, the announcer does seem to get more annoying each and every time that you play.



Big Pharma, when it comes down to it, is a game about placing down puzzle pieces in a confined space to try and change the concentration of drugs and then export them through a port in the wall. You are always very limited on space and ports in and out of your factory, and each of the machines that you can choose from is essentially a puzzle piece with set inputs and outputs. Whilst this may not sound very exhilarating at first, stay with me, things get a lot more complicated.


Ingredients come with set effects, not all of them good. For example, a drug that cures asthma might also cause headaches, so it’s your job to change the concentration of the drug so that it cures most effectively whilst minimizing the side effects. Or not… This is where things get interesting. What if you were also producing and selling a painkiller that cures headaches? If you dial up the strength of the side effect, then it might somewhat effect the sales of your asthma drug, but you’re also going to have a lot more people buying your painkillers. Also if you make your cure too effective, then eventually nobody will need to buy your medicine anymore, so maybe you shouldn’t make it work too well. Herein lies the fascinating dark heart of Big Pharma. Money vs morals.

On top of the production side of planning and building your factory, you must also fight against rival pharmaceutical corporations as they try to outsell your drugs and steal your customers. You must research new machines to refine your ingredients and create bigger and better drugs, as well as send out explorers to find that one rare species that could provide the key to curing something big, make you mega-money, and keep you a step ahead of the competition.


The new Marketing and Malpractice DLC has also added some interesting and rather evil new features such as allowing you to test your drugs and release the results. Of course, you can always alter all the bad results before you make them public. You can now also have your executives bribe doctors to prescribe your drugs, change your prices to undercut your competitors, or even run media campaigns to convince the public that they are sick and desperately need your medicine.

You will experience the game through playing a variety of goal orientated scenarios (earn x amount of money, cure x amount of people) and start from scratch each time. There are a ton of different goals and scenarios which are great for achievement hunters but they don’t massively add to the replayability of the game. Once you’ve completed a few levels, you may end up feeling a strange sense of deja vu as you are forced to do another level that seems remarkably similar to the last three.


Each group of missions gets more difficult but adds more content for you to explore, which serves as a decent introduction to some of the more complex machines and features. You thankfully have a wealth of tutorials to navigate at first, but they barely scratch the surface of this title and you are mostly left to your own devices to make mistakes and learn from them.

Having remarked about the replayability, there is actually tons to experiment with and you will have to spend many hours before you end up using all the machines that the game has to offer and encountering all of the cures. Each scenario also has multiple levels beyond a mere “pass” grade to encourage you to keep going and really get the most out of each play-through. Likewise each time you play, the ingredients and their effects are randomised so you never get quite the same ride each time.



Big Pharma is surprisingly complex for what looks like a relatively simple concept from a new indie developer. We were worried at first that the game would become repetitive too quickly and lack replay value after the first few challenges but we were actually very pleasantly surprised. The DLC adds more levels of complexity than ever before and randomised ingredients and effects for each play-through help keep things fresh. As with other great management simulators, you will end up spending way too much of your life playing this game. Which is a good thing of course.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Big Pharma + Marketing & Malpractice DLC - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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