December 23, 2011 9:40 PM | Cassandra Khaw
[While the new Indie Royale game bundle that we co-created with Desura is running, we'll be profiling each of the five games featured in it, giving our honest opinion on the pluses and minuses of each title.With Christmas drawing near, we take a look at The Oil Blue - an oil drilling simulation of surprisingly satisfying proportions.]
Ever since I first read fellow editor Michael Rose's glowing preview of The Oil Blue, I've been curious about the game. Would it live up to expectations? Was it something of an acquired taste? I wasn't sure. After all, oil drilling simulations are exactly everyone's cup of tea.
Was it mine? Yes and no. The Oil Blue is interesting. It has a little bit of everything you would expect - an assortment of machinery to maintain, resources to acquire, repairs to be done, sales to be made and even a fiesty upgrade system. (When you rank up for the first time, The Oil Blue will inform you in no uncertain terms that you're now a Worthless Peon). But it's a slow-paced experience, the kind that may make FPS junkies fidget in their seats.
Though the subject matter might be offensive to some, the premise behind the game is a fairly intriguing one. The Oil Blue is set some time in the near future. Thanks to certain events, oil is even more crucial than before and as an employee of United Oil of Oceania, it's your responsibility to reclaim islands, drill for oil, sell the oil and then profit. That's the story in a nutshell. And as far as I can tell, that's also the long and short of it. Normally, this would be a bit of a problem but The Oil Blue isn't about the plot, it's about the gameplay.
This is where it's going to be a hit or miss. If your idea of a good time is an afternoon spent tinkering with virtual machines and worrying over dials and meters as you wait patiently for a stroke of good luck, you're in for an excellent time. Otherwise, The Oil Blue will probably make a better present for a chess-loving cousin. At any given time, you'll only ever get a certain amount of hours to man your drills and ensure that they product as much oil as possible. If you screw up, you can expect consequences to follow. You will also have to be savvy about potential oil prices. Do you sell them now or do you wait till they've achieved a higher demand? Much like in real life, it's a gamble. You're also going to have to ensure that your machines are repaired each morning to ensure optimal efficiency. And on top of that, it's also your job to determine what upgrades are the most crucial. It's a lot of work but it beats a 9-5 desk job, right?
Well-made visuals, intuitive controls and decent music tie the package together. Though it will never overwhelm you with its splendor,The Oil Blue doesn't fail to impress. It's kind of like the stalwart, unromantic partner we never think of but subconsciously look to wed. Strangely meditative in its own way, The Oil Blue is the kind of game that won't rock your world but tempt you into spending hours with it.
There's a demo that you can check out if you're interested in a more hands-on look at things. Otherwise, I totally recommend Mike Rose's expansive preview on the matter. As for me, I'm going to see if I can finish this last island before I go to bed.. Official website here, and you can buy it as part of Indie Royale's 'X-Mas Bundle' for the next few days.