Turmoil Impressions (Nintendo Switch)
Turmoil, an oil baron simulator, has been out on PC for several years now, but it just made the leap to the Switch. It’s a fun, if somewhat shallow, game that wouldn’t really make sense on other consoles. In Turmoil, you compete with three other AI characters to extract oil from various plots of land, earning money to be spent at an auction on shares that will determine the next mayor of the town.
The game consists of two phases, one in town, and one in the oil fields. In town, you can purchase upgrades to your equipment such as larger pipes which bring oil to the surface faster, a mole that uncovers random tiles below the surface, or capacity increases for your carriages or silos. You can also offer cash to residents to ensure oil prices always stay over a certain number or that you won’t be fined for any spillage. The price fixing guarantees in particular make for a less stressful run. This is also when you’ll bid on mayoral shares, with the first person to bid securing the shares as the price falls. You’ll also bid on land. Each plot of land starts at $2,000 and goes up by $1,000 each time it’s taken from someone else. I found that pushing the price of land up wasn’t often worth it, and tended to take a slightly less desirable piece of land while letting the others drive up the price and spend their hard earned cash.
The second phase, the real gameplay phase, involves finding and drilling for oil. You’ll start the game with a dowser that will indicate where you can find oil, but eventually will unlock upgrades that can reveal random tiles or reveal a large circle underground. From there, you’ll place a rig and drill your way to the oil, using carriages to transport the oil to one of two selling points (aptly named Left, Inc. and Right, Inc.) or to a silo you place on the land. Prices fluctuate throughout the timed level, so you’ll want to be sure you’re selling to the appropriate side, or storing your oil if prices are low.
The pace can be a bit frantic at times, because you have a limited amount of time with each plot of land. You may need to drill through or around rocks, or send natural gas to a buyer to temporarily increase oil prices (although I found I was making plenty of money without doing this). If you don’t have enough carriages to collect your oil, the rig will spill, resulting in fines that will eat away at your profits. There’s really always something to be working on and the levels go by quickly. While Turmoil is a simulation game, it’s more of an RTS, and despite being completely different, you’ll find echoes of a game like Starcraft in the way you approach each level.
Turmoil isn’t terribly difficult, because as I mentioned, I wasn’t really taking advantage of all of the game had to offer, but I still found myself with significantly more cash than my competitors. That being said, it was fun to see how well I could do in a given level. To see if I could find all of the oil pockets and exit before time ran out, or to make use of different oil finding techniques. It’s the perfect game to pick up and play for 10 minutes, then come back to later. I found the traditional controls to be easier to use than the touchscreen ones, but it feels like Turmoil could find a good home on mobile devices as well.
Once you finish the game, it’s worth another run to take an upgrade path that resonates better with your playstyle, but you’ve really seen all it has to offer and it feels like the type of experience that you might pick up for a weekend once a year. Either way, it’s a fun game to pick up on sale and would be great to play on a road trip, in a hotel room, or any other time you don’t have hours to devote to a game.