Turmoil for iPad is a game of 19th century oil management. Buy land, locate pockets of oil, drill, pump, sell, upgrade your equipment, grow your business, extract more oil, outwit your opponents, get rich, win. Adapted for iPad, Turmoil earned its pedigree on the rough and unforgiving landscape of Steam, where it did quite well, actually.
You begin the game with nothing but a few thousand dollars and a dowser to find you a patch of oil. Of course, it's not quite that simple. While the game is seemingly a competitive one you won't really interact with your computer opponents (single-player only) very much, and not at all on the oil-drilling screen. This gives the game sort of a zen-like feel as you try to get your system running smoothly at maximum efficiency with no distractions. The dowser will give you a rough idea of where horizontally the oil might be, but it's up to you to hone in on it and then guess how far down to drill. You always drill in sections, and once a section is underway, it will drill to it's pre-determined end point. This means that you can and will drill completely through pockets of oil whenever you guess incorrectly. Fortunately, you can extend each section as long as you have enough money. Once the oil starts flowing, you will hire horse carts to haul it away and sell it to buyers on either side of the screen. The price they will pay will be in constant flux so you will need to watch carefully who to send your carts to, and when. Sometimes, neither buyer is offering a good price so you will store you oil in the hopes of cashing in when the price goes back up. If you storage fills up, you choose not to sell, or you don't buy enough horse carts, the oil may overflow out of the rig, which will result in a massive fine. While this is all going on, you will also be depleting the oil that you've found so you will need to constantly look for new pockets to drain. If this sounds hectic, it's actually not; but it is quite challenging.
Back in town, you will be given the option to spend your profits on upgraded equipment, new technology, and better horse carts. Before each round starts, you will bid on your next piece of property. You must also have a certain amount of money to begin each scenario. These slowly increasing overhead costs will force you to earn more and more money each time you play so choosing not to buy upgrades is a quick way to certain failure.
While Turmoil was a success on the desktop, it positively shines on mobile due to it's modest graphics and (mostly) one-touch gameplay. There are a few rough edges with the iPad port, however, that may detract from your enjoyment until they iron them out. Currently, the touchscreen interface can feel inaccurate or unresponsive at times. Also, it's difficult to tell when your next touch will place an oil rig or horse cart because selected items don't always highlight when they are active. Lastly, there is an annoying sound bug that can cause background noises to repeat endlessly until you force-quit. None of these, however, caused me to put my iPad down in frustration so if this type of game is your cup of tea, don't hold off because of them.
If you like management simulations and treasure hunting games, you're likely going to love Turmoil. It's also quite easy to understand the rules and objectives so even the most novice gamer will be able to dive right in. Lastly, Turmoil is a premium game, which means you pay up-front for unlimited and unrestricted play rather than continually in the form of ads and premium currencies.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - The graphics are simple, but not crude. Everything is hand-drawn and razor sharp. Sound: - 4 - Sound bug aside, the music is period appropriate, and the effects are subtle yet effective. Controls: - 4 - Plays great on a touchscreen, however it can be a bit exasperating at times when you aren't sure if your input has been correctly received. Gameplay: - 5 - I love economic simulations, and this one is spot-on.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Get the double-wide pipe upgrade first, but make sure you have the horse-carts available to handle the increased production. Buy the radar as soon as you can afford. Being able to pinpoint oil pockets is a huge advantage.