Developed By: Klabater
Published By: Positech Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Big Pharma reminds me vividly of my interest in Theme Hospital that I adore, but only on the surface level what I got instead is a deep production line machinery puzzle with management that manufactures pills and selling it to the public. Tasked to formulating recipes of pills or even perfecting it to earn company big bucks with warehouse space awareness in mind. The game tells a different story in terms of the factory perspective but the main question is whether or not the game delivers any form of fun factor to maintain any player engagement throughout this manufacturing side of the game.
Graphics and Sounds
Graphics in this game are decently cartoony, stiff with logistical based designs, like looking through a logistical graft but with heavy machinery and conveyors having more movements than the actual humans standing beside. Music in this game will always portray generic music that appears at first pretty upbeat but lacks variety (just one song) and doesn’t build up as you reach your goals or successfully research a pill. As mentioned above, the machinery that processes, shakes and mixes pills feel more alive in this game with spot-on sounds and soothing conveyor belt movements, conveying the message that this industry doesn’t actually need many humans in the production side of things as they ironically look and act more mechanical and stiff.
As a tycoon in a pharmaceutical part business sim and part logistics puzzler, part of the job is to challenge your thinking not only in terms of cost-effective biological research and building machines in order to make pills but also placing conveyor belts to move from one machine to another ranging from Dissolver, Evaporator, Ioniser, and more to increase/reduce/ alter the concentration level of a medication to a better one or having totally different effects while at the same time knowing that the warehouse space is limited. Bear in mind that each concentration level of a pill has its own positive and negative side effects that can be visually seen on-screen but can be a bit harder to view on a Switch undocked due to the smaller box and texts. The more benefits and the fewer side effects of a pill, the more money you gain from the public once each pill exits the conveyor door. I find myself juggling and balancing the concentration level while at the same time abandoning any further efforts of pills improvements due to lack of money (loan included), space and time.
As I mentioned earlier that playing on Switch via handheld mode is visually impossible to make out the small boxes of concentration in each machine as it appears to be one line instead of the PC counterpart of separate boxes to pinpoint out the exact concentration level needed, making it almost unplayable for a more complicated formulation. Furthermore, the game HUD will automatically move from concentration level to another status of the machine within 3 seconds; making it almost impossible for players to calculate or assume the right concentration level visually. Switching to TV mode, however, seems to solve the issue but has other issues like the screen being misaligned (non-adjustable) which in itself may hinder the player’s experience in a puzzle game. Aside from that, the conveyor belts at times seem to have minor bugs and go in a different direction.
What I Liked
- Challenging micromanagement puzzler
- A competitor will actually hurt you in sales if not planned well
- Welcoming Custom game and Free Build mode for the added freedom to adjust the difficulty you prefer.
- Deep branching machinery/ conveyor belt puzzle mechanics
- Welcoming features such as pause and unpause, slowdown or fast-forward
What I Wished Can Be Improved
- No actual workers or consumers to react to your products, making it feel lifeless and just AI input cash goals.
- A VERY steep learning curve, with the added curveball of mislabeled tutorials as well as small text in tutorials for handheld mode.
- Game breaking visuals on handheld mode and out of alignments for TV mode.
- You will take a very long time to actually get it.
- Generic soundtrack.
Overall this title is just a puzzle manufacturing game with elements of logistics, and research with a deep set of challenge though will definitely turn stale for a lot of players due to mislabelled tutorials, steep learning curve, game-breaking visuals, and lifeless text environments; ironically making the whole thing seems laborious like working in a factory itself with nothing but a one long list of manuals to operate. Perhaps with an overhaul of updates that may or may not fix the game but for the time being as a casual player or first-timer diving into this game will find it a challenge and paired with small bugs involving conveyor belts at times randomly placed in opposite directions from where you wanted it to go and small texts in handheld mode; this complex game will definitely be unable to be played to the fullest of its potential.
Furthermore, lack of depth in terms of a more human touch aspect such as an actual patient using the pills to see some form of real reaction/text feedback of the product. What I got instead is just race against the clock and competitor to get cold hard cash. Don’t get me wrong, this is actually a wonderfully complex game to behold that I really wanted to fall in love with but it did not translate well from PC to Switch and doesn’t fully utilize the Switch by having players just using the direction buttons/analog stick to navigate most segments instead of the touch screen.
For the time being, the Switch version will definitely thin down most new player’s patience to actually enjoy it any further.