Tested on : PC
Turmoil – Review
Fresh out of early access, the oil rush begins! Turmoil is a simulation strategy game set in 19th century America during the height of the oil rush. Take on the role of a budding oil tycoon in the unclaimed wilds, grab your own spot of land and drill, drill, drill until you hit that glorious black gold.Story
As you might expect, this section is somewhat superfluous to requirements for this simple strategy sim, but that does not mean that this title lacks character, nor does it suffer for not having a strong narrative. Rather, the simplicity of not having to deal with a storyline allows the player greater freedom to experiment and explore, and most importantly, concentrate on making money.
There is not a complete lack of story however. The setting and build-up provide you with all that you could need to get your head into the dirty business of tracking down and bathing in some oily goodness. It’s 19th century America and in dusty desert and windy plain, you must seek your fortune… Well, you get the idea.
The words simple yet elegant come to mind where the graphics of Turmoil are concerned. Everything is very clean cut and simple, from the sprites of your little workhorses, to the pumping of your lucrative oil wells. Everything from the game text, to the town buildings and character portraits, are bathed in rustic western charm.It is all too easy to find yourself swiftly transported to the world of the frontier and completely immersed in your money grabbing, oil baron alter ego, without even realising how you got there.
Musically, Turmoil is surprisingly good, which really helps the world come to life and further draw you into the game. Do not be too surprised if you find little ditties sticking in your head long after you’ve turned off the game to try and get some sleep. Likewise the sound effects don’t get too annoying, and mostly help to inform you of things that you need to be aware of, such as an oil well that is threatening to explode from too much pressure.
Turmoil fills a rather unique niche as an oil tycoon simulation game, and the process of going from a penniless prospector to powerful oil lord is a surprisingly easy one. Made even simpler by the excellent tutorial that drip-feeds you everything that you would ever need to know in order to start making the big bucks. Once you lease some land, you must begin the search for oil. This becomes easier as you unlock new methods and technologies to help your search, but your primary method of finding a steady supply of Texas tea is by using dowsers. These mystical men wander up and down your lands with a dowsing rod until they indicate that they have found a supply of oil somewhere beneath their feet.Once you know that it’s there, it’s time to drill. You must build an oil well and use the intuitive click and drag system for drilling through the earth. Once you’ve hit a pocket, its all about siphoning off as much of the black stuff as quickly as possible in order to make a profit. You have a choice of two companies to sell to, each paying different prices that constantly fluctuate, or you can choose to stockpile the oil in silos and hope that the price sky-rockets before you cash in.
Horse and cart is the only way for you to transport your oil and to ferry it to its final destination, so you better have plenty of workers on hand if you don’t want your oil wells to overflow. Any sort of spillage can result in massive fines, as well as wasted oil, so whatever you do, don’t spill it.The campaign continually introduces new challenges as you progress, and offers a huge selection of upgrades to help you optimise you operations. What begins as a very simple “find and pipe the oil” game soon expands into all sorts of shenanigans about hidden drill-destroying rocks, diamond fetching moles and dangerous pockets of natural gas. All the while you spend your hard earned cash to upgrade your oil digging arsenal with bigger and better upgrades.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of the upgrades on offer, which keep updating as you advance, you will soon find yourself making obscene amounts of money. The upgrades themselves vary from basic upgrades like a greater pipe width for faster oil flow, and faster cart size and speed, to more extravagant upgrades like tame moles and advanced ground penetrating scanners.
In-between bouts of plundering the Earth’s natural resources you will find yourself in the town. The town is where you buy your upgrades, get loans from the bank, and bribe strangers in the saloon to do things, like illegally make any oil spillage fines disappear. You will be able to follow its fate over the course of your adventure and see new buildings pop up as the oil rush runs from strength to strength. The town is also where you will find another important part of the game, the mayors’ office, where you bid for land against your evil AI opponents.You play the whole game against 3 AI players, and whilst they appear to be a threat at first, once you know what you’re doing, you will quickly find yourself dominating them. (We were regularly making 2 or 3x more profits than any of them.) So they become nothing more than a nuisance after a while and the title would definitely be improved if you had more competition from better AI. Once you progress enough, the mayor will announce his impending retirement and also that whoever buys the most shares in the town will become the new mayor. This is your ultimate goal, and fulfilling it will cause you to win the game.
The game itself runs very smoothly but a few people are currently having problems with fatal crashes and bugs. We ourselves were not too impressed when we lost over an hours worth of progress for no apparent reason when the game failed to save. Having said this however, the developers seem to be very attentive and are working fast to roll out patches and fix these problems.Conclusion
Turmoil is a simple but fun little game that you can pick up and play at anytime, for any excuse. It quickly becomes addictive and the constant addition of new challenges (rocks, diamonds, natural gas, etc) help to keep the game fresh and challenging, despite the poor amount of competition from AI. This title has a very reasonable price tag and whilst it isn’t the longest game, most people are reporting that it takes around ten hours or more to complete, so it’s also pretty good value for money.