Have you ever wanted to know what it would be like to be an oil tycoon? How it feels to pack up your wagon, roll out west, and strike it rich? Well, no need to risk life, limb, or your savings! Just check out Turmoil, the simulation game that puts you in the shoes of a 19th-century entrepreneur looking to hit it big. It originally released on PC through Steam in 2016 but has since been ported to the Nintendo Switch this year. Turmoil finds the perfect balance between hectic spending and collecting resources with the peacefulness of a simulation game.

Starting My New Job as an Oil Tycoon

Turmoil‘s campaign felt extremely investing and challenging the further I progressed. Each round gave me the opportunity to upgrade my tools, make deals with buyers, and even borrow some money from the bank if I needed to. Then I would set out to my leased lot of land and start my search for oil. This is where the real fun comes into play. The first few levels started easy. Drop a guy to search for oil, then build my drill and hire a horse to cart it to the buyer. At the end of the year, I would return to town and between the level over again.

What Turmoil gets right is how well the devs are able to make each level feel slightly more difficult than the last. They did this by adding in competing buyers, increasing the amount needed to break even, and the use of additional item upgrades. This constantly changed my strategy. Early on in the campaign, I had the ability to purchase an upgrade to my pipes. This was used to increase the size of them which made the oil flow faster. Easy choice right? It would make me more money to have more oil to sell. Well then I realized it if flowed faster I needed to spend more to have more horses or risk the entire unit spilling over.

This balance is what kept me so invested in Turmoil. Having to learn to manage my money and decide when to spend money on upgrades and when to wait. Some rounds were definitely more successful than others when it came to how much I made. There is no trophy for making the most money in each round. However, having a good amount of cash to spend on upgrades before the next one started was what I strived for. As I progressed further I became very aware that I couldn’t buy every upgrade every time which played right into the idea of managing resources.

The Life of an Oil Baroness

As the campaign for Turmoil goes on, it becomes very important to look at the bigger picture. Eventually, the mayor of this booming town will start to sell shares off. In order to win the campaign, I needed to own more than 50% of those shares. And while I was able to squeeze in a victory, it was at a mere 52%. While I never felt completely out of control, there was still always a challenge. Creating this steadily rising difficulty curve is something video games can really struggle with, but Turmoil does it well.

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The only let down is that each level, while the difficulty changes, is still pretty much the same mechanics. I found that I could play about 4 to 5 rounds in the campaign before I would hit a point that it felt less addictive and fun and more repetitive. I would stop and take a break for a bit. But, even during my breaks, I knew I wanted to go back and continue playing on.

Controls on the Nintendo Switch

Having been originally released on PC, Turmoil went through some changes before being ported to the Nintendo Switch. Wanting to know how it felt on both platforms, I made sure to test out the PC version as well. The use of a mouse and keyboard has always made gaming easier for me, but the development team did a fantastic job with this port. A large part of the gameplay is placing the drills and dragging the pipes down to find oil which I was worried would feel odd with the Joy-Cons.

But, using the Nintendo Switch’s touch screen functionality I was able to drag and drop things where I needed them. This made playing undocked that much more enjoyable. They even included a way to zoom in on the dirt below so I could see exactly where I was dragging the pipe. Even without the touchscreen, the controls worked well. I found myself docking my Nintendo Switch and playing on my TV screen. This of course, like any other game, made reading the text far easier as well.

Overall Opinions


Review summary for Turmoil.

Turmoil‘s mix of resource management and simulation makes for extremely addictive gameplay. Deciding just what strategy would work best for me only to have to adjust based on purchased upgrades reminded me of how well they were able to scale the difficulty as the story progressed. The game is definitely worth picking up and playing on the Nintendo Switch and ensuring the touch controls enhance gameplay.

Turmoil is available now on PC through Steam, iOS, Android, Linux, Mac, and the Nintendo Switch.



Julia Roth
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