I rarely play PC games these days but I couldn’t miss out on this one – a management sim about starting your own business to thrive on the oil rush whilst having direct control over what you build and buy. Sounds like heaven to me. So, I jumped on Turmoil, from Gamious, once the DLC came out to see what the game was like as I’ve heard nothing but praise for the title and even Steam reviews are overly positive.
Because this is my first time playing both the base game and the DLC I’ll cover them both within my review – time to uncover some liquid gold!
In Turmoil you get to pick who you wish to play with, this offers nothing but the change of the avatar for your protagonist though as neither has their own skills, stats, or starting inventory. The three other people you don’t choose will proceed to become the CPU managed opponents in the game. Our protagonist has arrived in town, along with his competitors, seeking a perfect place to dig for oil – as you have all heard that the land nearby is rich of the black fluid but you have also heard the Mayor of this town owns all of the plots of land.
Once you’ve been given your initial plot of land and you’ve sorted out your initial amount of money, off you set to begin digging in the first free plot that the Mayor gifted you. As you progress through the game, you will be in bidding wars for both the land and the ownership of the town, meet new shopkeepers who open shops with useful upgrades to purchase, and encounter various hazards in your adventure to get rich quick!
Turmoil is one of those games which has simple gameplay mechanics but it’s difficult to actually master the tools given to you – as I found out the first time I played it. Bar the first time you enter the town (as this bit is missed out), you must first bid for land from the Mayor. This is basically a giant map with all of his plots of land in a grid – you can see how much oil was found in previously used plots, but you can’t go back to those or see what the unexplored plots have. It’s here where people can get competitive, if someone has a plot they have acquired for 2k, you can offer 4k and take it instead – they can come in at 8k if they wish to re-take it off you etc… it’s all about looking for trends in where the majority of the oil seems to be, based on plots around it. However, I sometimes outbid people to be given a plot with hardly any oil or sometimes picked a random one and received more oil than I could handle!
Next up is the act of digging for the oil which will make you rich! A few stages are only a few in-game months in length – these are to teach you how to play the game – after that, you will get a full year to complete a stage, which is about 10-15 minutes. Armed with $2k, you must first use a mole or a Dowser in order to locate where the oil is residing underground and then build yourself an oil rig above ground and connect a drill pipe to where you think the oil is. That’s right, even though the Dowser has told you there is oil below him, you don’t know how far down or how big the deposit is – as the land is still opaque in terms of what you can see. Once you’ve struck oil it’s time to buy a horse-drawn wagon, in order to deliver the oil, as well as a storage area to store the oil before you sell it.
Why would you need to store the oil though? Well, you can sell your oil to two companies who are known as ‘Left INC’ and ‘Right INC’, who just so happen to be on the left and right of the screen – genius. The problem with the price of any natural gas, liquid, or mineral such as gold, silver, and oil is that it fluctuates in price all the time. In Turmoil, it’s the same thing. Prices from both sides will go up and down constantly, so you’re best off storing your oil until one of the companies is offering a good price then sell, sell, sell! Then, as soon as they stop offering the good price you simply return back to storing it for a rainy day. The thing here is you have to keep an eye on the prices whilst also managing your rigs (so they don’t spill) as well as maintaining your horses – if you don’t then the $1.50 you were selling your oil for may have just dropped to below 40 cents!
I know what you’re thinking – the above sounds easy and you could do it with your eyes closed – I thought the same at first as well. The game throws in hazards and curveballs for you to deal with from time to time which can ruin your great streak. The first thing to worry about is the rigs themselves as they can overflow and spurt out your precious oil if you don’t transport the oil from them quick enough. This may not seem like much but you get a massive fine in regards to cleaning it up upon finishing the year. The game also introduces physical hazards like Rocks and Gas…
Rocks are a pain, you can upgrade your pipes so they can drill through rocks, but it’s expensive and you won’t be able to get it for a while – this means that if you hit a rock then you must find a way around it before you can reach certain oil wells. These are more annoying than an issue though as it’s usually quite easy to bypass. Gas, on the other hand, is a pain for both reasons! If you have a rig that is working fine with pumping oil and you decide to go exploring for a secondary well to connect it too but happen to link into a gas chamber then close the valve quickly! hooking up to the gas will cause your oils to spurt out of the rigs at about 100MPH – which you really don’t want. Alternatively, if you hooked up a pipe to the gas and to either Left or Right INC, then the prices they offer will begin to rise really fast as the gas messes with their ‘offered price’. So it can be used to your advantage, it’s just a risk based on the trouble it can bring.
At the end of each year, you will receive a breakdown of how well you did along with any fines or bonuses you encountered. You can also see graphs, charts and a final screenshot for your pleasure. Once you return back to town you will also find out how well each of your competitors did and how you stack up against them. I found that I was regularly making more money than them but I was always poorer because I kept investing in new tech.
Speaking of new tech – over time the town you are in begins to grow, with new shops popping up and new items for you to invest into. These range from increasing productivity by improving things you already own, to giving you brand new items to make your job easier. It’s essential you upgrade to certain things as soon as possible so you don’t lose out on any precious oil. The first things I always obtain are the moles and the scanner – the mole will randomly dig around an area you click, as well as collect any diamonds you find so you can sell them later, and the scanner allows you to clear part of the opaque ground in order to see everything that’s there – for a price.
Other things you can get include the aforementioned pipes that can drill through rocks, the ability to branch multiple pipes off one connection, and ways to increase your horse count and speed – as well as many others. Some of these upgrades are simply essential as there will be times where you can’t find any oil as it’s all secluded behind rocks – when that happens you will wish you could drill through them!
Another ‘store’ that opens is Daphne’s bar. In here you can talk to people and offer ‘bribes’ for certain things such as paying for one of the INCs to never drop below a set amount in the next year, not having to pay for any oil spillages next year, or even to lower the interest rate on any loans you take out in the following year. I often forgot to come into here, but this is also a great place to plan out your strategy. Finally, we also have the bank. Here you can take out loans for the year – which are paid back in your end-of-year results – or sell any diamonds you find during you digs. The price of diamonds also fluctuates though so don’t sell them for $1200 as they will sometimes jump to over $4k.
Near the end of the second ‘region’ of land plots, you will also begin the next major mechanic of the game – buying the rights of the town from the current Mayor! This is performed as an auction with you and the CPU take part in, with the Mayor auctioning off a few percents of ownership every year. When someone hits 50% owned, the others are kicked out of town and the 50% person becomes the new Mayor. This sometimes felt a little unfair as I had been buying new upgrades and mechanics so the CPU had more money than me and managed to outbid me on most shares. Sometimes it even felt like the CPU purposely bought them for more than I had available just because it knew it can and I couldn’t do anything about it.
If you are the one appointed as Mayor then you will be rewarded with a special plot of land which you can go and drill on which will offer you a nice surprise 🙂
The Heat is On – DLC
Preferably, once you have finished the campaign above – or earlier if you wish to risk playing before you finish the main campaign – you have access to a new town within The Heat is On DLC. Once again, you choose your initial character and the other three characters become your rivals and the game is technically the same but with a few alterations. For starters, you begin with $200k this time around and all of the shops from the base game are already available with all of their upgrades – albeit from smaller venues as they all appear to be wagons on a train now. The reason you are given such a large capital is that you are about to encounter all of the hazards and more from day one, so you must pimp out your business before you even take on your first plot of land – just like all of your rivals do. That’s right, this time around, you can see exactly what each of the others buy and currently have active.
The major difference between the DLC and the base game is Magma. The town you are trying to suck dry this time is surrounded by land which is rich in oil, gas, and pockets of Magma which can be used to your advantage in multiple ways. The first use of Magma is to connect a rig that’s pumping oil to the hot source and it will proceed to pump out the oil faster, just be careful of spillages! The second use is more user-friendly, you can use the Magma to refill gas deposits or even turn oil deposits into gas instead – this means you can hook up a pipe to one of the INCs and also link in a gas deposit (so the prices increase), but then if you also connect a Magma source then the gas will start regenerating and thus – more money!
There are a few other differences such as the ability to choose to only give oil to EITHER the Left or Right INC in exchange for a lump-sum – it sounds enticing and good, but sometimes they only offer you about $1000 and you can easily make that if one of the sides has a great $2 price on offer. Other things are the ability to use gas straight away without having to buy connector valves and the ability to turn connectors on and off so you aren’t shooting gas or oil all over the place. Some of these are in the base game, but here they are available from the beginning.
In the base game, you could find diamonds in order to buy info on oil-rich areas or sell them for high prices, in the DLC you actually uncover treasure with works the same way. You can trade it for information with the same guy if you find them all in an area – if you find all nine types then he will tell you about the special plot of land, similar to what the Mayor did in the base game. The main difference here is that if you didn’t get the treasure before the end of the year, you can opt to buy the treasure instead as there isn’t loads of them out there like the generic diamonds.
With a new town comes some new shops – the original shops appear on the left and the new ones on the right. We have a new store dedicated to Magma pipes which offer insulations and allows you to drill into and use the benefits of the Magma, and we also have a new Inn as the old one couldn’t be transported from the original town. The new Inn, Maeve’s, does the same thing as Daphne’s – you can talk to people and bribe them to help you next year or you can play a game of higher or lower (which is a new thing). If you win this game then you receive a large chunk of money, so it’s worth playing it each year, even if you do lose sometimes!
Finally, the stock exchange has been upgraded. Previously, I found it unfair as the auction-style had a giant ‘countdown-like’ counter which gradually decreased in price, once it hit a price you wanted, you took the bid – this allowed the CPU to always undercut me and get there before I can even bid. This time around we have our standard auction type – we are in a room and you press a button to bid and it’s a case of outbidding each other or making your rivals pay more than they should!
Upon completion of the games, a new ‘Expert mode’ will become available for you. This mode boosts the difficulty of your rivals as well as adding special abilities to each of the people you can pick (remember how I said the choice of avatar didn’t matter? Well now it does). From having someone who can see the treasures and diamonds without scanning, to someone who doesn’t have to pay for spillages – the second time around it’s all about strategically picking the character with the best skill for you. I actually wish that the original game, before completion, had some incentive to try out each of the characters as well as at first I thought we were to just literally just pick whichever we like the look of.
The graphics in the game are very simplistic yet also detailed and brightly coloured. It has a painting look about it with unusual shading and simplistic backgrounds. I played the game at both 1080p and 720p and it looked spot on and clear in both instances and it even ran at a solid 60fps on both my laptop and PC (which may not be a surprise). Everything looks so charming and delightful with great animation and a clear, defined artistic choice.
Equally as awesome is the soundtrack and sound effects. Every little sound works perfectly with the game, from the gurgling of oil through the pipes to the splashing of filling up the storage area – you know what everything is doing from sound alone, which is essential in a game like this which you must constantly be on your guard about. You can be off trying to sort out your pipework and searching for oil when the Dowser will whistle to you and alert you he found something. Then, you may be adjusting the sale of oil to the best company when you hear gas seeping through a pipe or the alarm that spillage is about to happen. It all works perfectly.
Official Trailer(Main Game):
Turmoil is the kind of game I can put on when I have some free time and then realise I have just spent the last two-three hours playing and it only seemed like a few minutes. It’s very addictive and all the mechanics work perfectly in tandem with each other to deliver a very enjoyable and satisfying management sim. The base game itself offers a lot of challenge, many hours of fun, and it also requires a strategic mind in order to take full advantage of everything it has on offer and emerge the victor. The game also does something which a lot of management sims don’t do – it made a mundane task entertaining, fun, and a joy to play. I highly recommend Turmoil to everyone who games on PC and wants a game they can casually play as they are relaxing. Not to mention it has weekly challenges and user-generated seeds to play.
Similarly, The Heat is On is a great DLC for an amazing game. It takes the base games core mechanics and improves on various aspects like the UI in the town, gives us new mechanics in regards to the Magma, and also gives us more things to look out for in the form of treasures. Each new element offers a new strategy that must be played if you wish to overcome this DLC as the rivals are back and this time they aren’t messing around! If you have previously played Turmoil before then I can’t recommend this enough – if you are new to Turmoil then I would also recommend picking this up but don’t jump into it until you have completed the main campaign – otherwise, you may get a little confused at what to do!
Turmoil£6.99 (base) £3.99 (DLC) £8.78 (both)
- - Really cool art style with great animation and sound effects
- - Very addictive and fun to play
- - Easy enough for anyone to play but hard to master all the mechanics
- - Hours of fun with the base game, DLC, weekly challenges, and random seeds
- - Always offering you new things right until the end to keep you intrigued
- - No multiplayer option (I can see a MP in this world being very popular)
- - The auction room in the base game was a little one-sided at times
- - Takes a little time to fully get to grips with everything on offer (but once you do, the game really opens up)