Have you ever wanted to be an oil baron? Live at the top of the world looking down those poor miserable peons below? Have unlimited wealth and have every possible door open to you? Ever wanted to manage excessive budgets and make decisions that affect millions? Fortunately, Turmoil is nothing like any of that. Instead, it is a light, time management puzzle game where players take on the role of 1800’s American oil hunters. Throughout your journey across the US and thanks to all that drilling for black gold, you will begin to accrue a small fortune, upgrade your equipment and, if you are doing really well, buy a small town.
What if I also told you though, that Turmoil is the most relaxing game ever and that every system in this brilliant little game is fun, easy and a fantastic stress reliever? You’d feel compelled to read the rest of this article, wouldn’t you?
Turmoil can be played across a ‘campaign’ that will take you all across the US, take on weekly challenges or just drill in a single area. If you want to get the most out of what Turmoil has to offer, then the campaign is the place for you. However, once you have a feel for how to play or are looking for some added challenge, then go ahead and dig into the other areas. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, and you are clearly eager to find out how exactly Turmoil even works?
When you start a game of Turmoil, you begin as a newly founded oil company that is ready to get drilling. Before you set off to do said drilling you are given the option to buy new upgrades, machinery, and advantages for the upcoming area. Once you enter your drilling location, you must place the various equipment needed to draw out this delicious dark juice. Using a dowser (or mysterious stick man) allows you to get the gist of where the oil is. You only know the rough area, so don’t be surprised if you end up missing though. Once you know where the oil deposit is you can start to build a pump and get to drilling. This is done by dragging to where you want to drill. However, don’t drag too far or you’ll whizz through an oil well and not get a drop of it. You’ll want to find that sweet spot because everything you do costs money after all.
There is other useful equipment like wagons to haul the oil into silos. Silos are especially helpful because the price of oil is constantly changing and you’ll only want to sell it when the time is right. Sell too soon, and you’ll miss out on some insane money. Later levels also introduce gas which can be used to make the price of oil reach crazy heights. Think of it as adding a London price tag to something. It comes in handy if you manage to get your drills and pipes correct.
That is the rough outline of the game. As you drill and sell oil the clock ticks ever onwards and creeps towards the end of your time with this specific area. Don’t let any oil be left because any in the ground, silos or wagons won’t earn you a penny. Once the area is bone dry or you have run out of time, the game tallies your earnings and sends you back to your slowly expanding town. As the campaign unfolds new buildings will be built, and new areas will open up.
So what makes it the most relaxing game ever?
Firstly, it strikes a great balance between introducing new systems and options. New areas present unique challenges and upgrades to purchases. These are a great way to keep you digging and drilling. One game turns into five as you try to save up for that mole upgrade. Moles, by the way, show a few random areas on the ground so if you are lucky (or skilful), you can find the oils exact location. While all this is nice, it is Turmoil’s difficulty curve that makes it truly relaxing.
The game is never very hard and generally each time you are only trying to beat your previous score. However, because of the constant supply of things to buy this is always a fun little challenge. Saving up for better wagons goes from “Oh, I need X amount of money” to “I bet I can make all of that in this one level if I’m clever about it”. Once you understand the core puzzle, anything else the game throws at you is just small extra. This means that the real challenge comes from the following: A) trying to beat your personal scores, B) earning money to buy cool things and C) getting all the damn oil in an area.
These 3 core challenges constantly shift throughout a level as you suddenly release you are against the clock to get these last scraps of oil. Do you hire all of the wagons in the West just to get it all sold, or do you do a quick guess/estimation that for the cost of the carts it isn’t worth it? It combines the joy of watching numbers go up (and oh boy, are these some nice numbers) with all the fun of beating a satisfying puzzle.
It is the small, interesting decisions that you are constantly making that make Turmoil so wonderfully engaging. If you have a terrible game, then it probably doesn’t matter because you likely just made a bucket load of money in the previous one. The game does very little to penalise you for doing poorly and instead rewards you heavily for doing amazingly.
Turmoil is another game, similar to Mini Metro, where 10 minutes turns into 30 minutes. It is a game where you can sit on the sofa with the excellent iPad version or on your PC and grow a friendly oil company for hours. The challenge is never the same because every level is different, but the challenge is similar enough that always feels comforting and familiar. If you want something that is going to chill you out and let you relax after whatever kind of day you have had, then let Turmoil and its country guitar soundtrack soothe your weary bones.