Big Pharma Rolls Off Production Line, Is Out Now

Big Pharma [official site] is “part business sim, part logistics puzzle”, where you’re dealing with balancing three competing resources: the limited space you have for the machinery that makes your drugs; the money you make from selling those drugs and spend to buy new machines; and your own conscience as you get reports back on the side effects of your pills. It’s out today.

Do you have enough heart to sacrifice money and space to stop the terrible nightmares your hypertension pills are giving people? Think about it while watching the trailer below.

Watching that trailer should signal whether this is a game for you. I suspect it’s a game for me; I have a soft spot for slow work of making machines efficient, as in other recent indie game Factorio. There is a wonderful satisfaction to making these industrial Rube Goldberg devices operate efficiently, and I suspect a bit of Theme Hospital-style gallows humour wouldn’t hurt either.

Alec got his hands on Big Pharma earlier this year and spoke to developer Tim Wicksteed about the game’s mixture of business management and logic puzzle.

Big Pharma is available for a launch price of £15.19/$20 on Steam and £12.89 on


  1. arioch says:

    I’ve been really enjoying this game in small doses(!)…

    Worth a look for anyone into their zachtronics-esque puzzlers.

    • ramirezfm says:

      How is the randomness in the game? One comment on the Steam page says almost everything is randomly generated which could really create some unwinnable scenarios.

      • arioch says:

        There definitely is some randomness – sometimes you will find missions easier than others because the upgrade paths of the drugs will be simpler to achieve.

        I dont think it affects enjoyment though – just gives you a different challenge every time you play.

        • ramirezfm says:

          Might give it a try then. Cheers.

          • Mansen says:

            Bit from column A, bit from column B. You can still run into some unlucky starts – But that’s the beauty of it imho.

            (In before RPS moderators shadowban me for posting a comment – Freedom of speech, freedom om speech!)

  2. Awesomeclaw says:

    Factorio is my go-to game for when I’ve only got my laptop with me. The screenshots of Big Pharma kind of reminds me of Free Enterprise, an old business sim I used to play a little bit where you would have to lay out machines in a factory to make and sell products. I really like these kinds of hands-on business sim games so maybe I’ll check this out.

    • Gibbonius says:

      Oh +1 for Free Enterprise! Factorio scratched the itch slightly but I’m in the minority that would appreciate more business sims.

    • Awesomeclaw says:

      OK, my thoughts on the game, having played it a bit:

      It’s good! Building the factory and figuring out how to get various materials across the factory is fun. The layouts of the machines put a restriction on how you lay your factory out, and the factory buildings are unusual shapes, so you have to think ahead to make the most out of your space.

      There’s also a pretty large research tree, and for increasing/decreasing concentrations (which is one of the main uses of the machines), most machines are ‘sidegrades’ rather than upgrades (e.g. the Ionizer is 3x as effective as the Dissolver but costs more than 3x to run), which means that if you can lay out your factory carefully you can maximise your profits.

      My only complaint about the game so far is that it’s kind of slow paced. After the tutorial, the first mission took me over an hour to complete, and only to the silver medal. It seems that in many cases the better medals just take longer, rather than being substantially more difficult.

      There’s also kind of a lack of conveyer types (although I appreciate that this may be a gameplay decision). Only one belt type is available in Big Pharma, while Factorio (for example) has a couple, which let you go underground to route around things and move materials around faster. That said, underground belts would make quite a lot of difference to how Big Pharma plays so again, maybe this is a deliberate decision.

      Finally, the ‘message’ of the game is there, although subtly delivered. The game doesn’t really rate how ‘evil’ your pharmaceutical company is, other than rating how good your cures are – better cures with fewer side effects are more expensive to produce but are worth somewhat more. I found myself prioritising quality over profits in a couple of cases where such products would benefit people I know. It’s completely possible to make a valuable cure with horrific side effects but these make your products less popular.

      Anyway, good overall, although a bit slow for my liking. One other thing I will say is that there seem to be no autosaves, so be careful to save regularly.

  3. PancakeWizard says:

    Also Satellite Reign was released today. Just sayin’

  4. trooperwally says:

    Why is it cheaper on GOG? Is Valve taking a bigger share than GOG or does affect the dev which store I buy it on?

  5. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Both this and Factorio look great, I’ve been missing games like this since most of them got infected with “free to not play”, seems like there’s a renaissance of legitimate management games coming, which is great!

  6. hungrycookpot says:

    If the background music isn’t Raymond Scott Powerhouse B the entire time, I don’t know what the devs were thinking.

  7. Cvnk says:

    Yes. For those who don’t know what hungrycookpot is referring to: