Turmoil is one of the games I’ve had stashed in my library for a very long time, and I finally had the time to play it recently. In it, you play as an oil baron in the “ye olde” times of the United States, quitting your previous job to look for the riches found in the oil fields.
In order to build your bankroll, you have to find some underground oil wells, with the use of diviners, radars or moles, and plop down some rigs to build them. Then, you hire some horses and wagons to carry the oil out and to a vendor who is offering the best price for your black gold. It’s a fairly simple premise, and your moneymaking ventures are boosted by the vendors around your towns base camp. You can purchase upgrades from them and, depending who is enjoying a drink in the saloon, you’re able to bribe certain people for some financial benefits. Some of these aren’t overly useful, but a couple are genuine gamechangers. Being able to fix the price some company is buying at gives you such a huge boost, as you’ll not need to worry about switching to a different vendor or getting shortchanged because you weren’t paying enough attention.
Due to this, Turmoil has a pretty fun gameplay loop – especially for people who like to hoard money like I do. Finding the most efficient way of digging out the oil, gas and diamonds from the land and selling it to whoever wants to pay the most is really fun. Although I did stumble upon my favoured approach, it did take a little while to get there with continual evolutions of how I managed my resources and towers. It took me a long while to realise that actually having multiple rods digging from one oil rig is actually worth spending the extra money on, although perhaps that could be attributed to my miserly nature. I didn’t think every upgrade was worthwhile, especially as later on in the game you have to consider buying shares in the town instead of splurging on upgrades that aren’t that good. Despite that, I did see a value of them if my gameplay style suited it, but the way I was playing I didn’t really see the value in upgrading everything, only the aspects I was actually using – and Turmoil doesn’t penalise you for that. You can dig and create your digging routine as you see fit, not to their plans.
Aesthetically, Turmoil is rather nice to look at. A bit simple, maybe, but it’s bright, colourful and cartoony and there’s a lot of love in every character and stage. It also has a very clear user interface which allows for quick decisions, but also well informed ones. Everything is very clear about what its function is, and how you should use them best. Even if you get a little lost and unsure about how to improve, you can ask the mayor for a hint who is more than happy to provide you with his knowhow.
The actual gameplay isn’t too bad, but there are definite flaws in Turmoil that are exposed as you continue playing. Most irritatingly, the entire idea is to grow your bank balance to be enormous and end the game as wealthy as possible. As it goes, this isn’t too tricky, as long as you are smart with placing your oil rigs down and selling to the highest bidder, as well as investing in upgrades and improvements to your gear. What makes it a bit daft is no matter how much money you start with, you’ll have to deal with starting with a relatively paltry $2,000. This means that no matter where you’re playing, even with the added factors to consider, once you have a solid starting strategy, you won’t ever change it. Normally I’d praise games with their level generation, as it means no two games are ever the same, but in this case, it doesn’t really matter. You’ll always do the same thing, so who cares where the random oil wells or stones actually are? As long as you stick to your usual strategy you’ll more than likely come out on top.
Turmoil isn’t a mind-blowing experience, but as a fun little time waster casual game you won’t find too many better. It’s quick and easy to pick up, very intuitive and with quite a few upgrades to buy it makes the game well worth playing, especially for gamers that are looking for something that offers a bit more of a relaxing vibe.