Game review: Turmoil makes the ruthless quest for black gold into diverting fun
Find an oil field, develop it, sell the product. Oh, and crush and destroy the opposition with base schemes and bribery. What fun!
For all its drawbacks, nowhere better exemplified than in the constant back-and-forth debacles over the upcoming US presidency, there’s no denying that capitalism makes for great gaming. Whether it’s overseeing entire armies, managing private prisons or just building roller coasters, the lure of profits and the thrill of competition beckon to carefree, basement-dwelling individuals everywhere.
PC game Turmoil takes one of the economic system’s most ruthless industries, an age-old money-maker that’s arguably seen wars fought over and millions die in the hunger for its gains, and turns it into a fun little pastime. As a greedy oil baron mining the depths of the earth in pursuit of liquid black gold, your task is surprisingly easy: you hire plebs to search out oil, build drilling platforms when it’s been found and take on transportation to move the barrels. The challenge is knowing when to store and when to sell.
Prices go up and down, and holding onto your stock too long can cause spillages and fines. But as with the cutthroat world of capitalism, the goal here isn’t really to earn as much cash as you can, but to crush your opponents and vie for the top spot of oil baron. Bribes and upgrades will get your pipes widened and your carriages sped up, giving you that all-important upper hand. But the funniest thing about Turmoil isn’t its attempt to realise Western capitalism’s primary creation, but just how farcically casual the game feels. There’s been a definite focus on developer Gamious’ part to turn an otherwise ruthless ambition into a chilled-out affair.
From the cartoon-like graphics and 19th century style saloon music, to the turn-based gameplay that’s all surprisingly simple, it’s the ideal throwback kind of game that you can easily play on a Monday night while watching the latest Game of Thrones. Whether that’s an ironically clever ruse to bring in more casual gamers, or whether it’s an obvious critique on how we downplay our economic history soaked in violence, isn’t exactly certain. But Turmoil remains a surprisingly fun and addictive little laptop experience.