Big Pharma: So the drugs do work

For the child in all of us who dreamt of emulating George and his marvellous grandparent-growing solution, now there’s a strategic pharmaceutical sim allowing you to cure the world of its ailments and make a quick buck at the same time. This drug-’em-up (err…) from UK dev Twice Circled not only looks slick but has the double whammy of letting you combine medicines at the same time as encouraging you to build gloriously OCD-fulfilling production lines.

“Mechanically, the game is influenced by classic games such as rollercoaster and Transport Tycoon. The belt laying tool is almost exactly like that which you use to lay down train tracks in Transport Tycoon”, explains game director Tim Wicksteed. “I’m also influenced by the growing number of games that have educational or satirical elements such as Prison architect and Papers, Please. I love the way both of those games try to stay as neutral as possible. They don’t tell the player what’s right or wrong but instead allow them to explore the issues at hand through the gameplay itself.”

Sick or treat
Starting off by researching drugs in the rainforest or under far away seas, you can combine substances, focus on the benefits and ignore the possible side-effects before going on to build complex machines to produce as many as possible “My aim with Big Pharma is to achieve that perfect mix of easy to learn but difficult to master,” Wicksteed says. “For instance your first drug could be as simple as taking a raw ingredient, turning it into a pill and selling it directly. However due to the way the market simulation works, the value of such drugs will soon fall due to the abundance of supply.
 “explore the issues at hand through the gameplay itself”
The key to mastering the game will be spotting opportunities for treatments with large margins, but also the potential to pivot into other cures so you can maintain your revenue even as the market starts to drop.” add in competitors muscling in on your turf and unforeseen effects that could go very, very wrong, and the level of strategy on offer is suitably intriguing.

all the art has been created by a single designer and Wicksteed hopes Big Pharma can cure the current addiction to the 8-bit and pixel style that dominates current 2D games. We’re already hooked by what we’ve seen. What were those side-effects again?

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