Made by the 1-man team of Anthony Nichols at Long Division LLC, Turnover focuses on an employee of a defense contract company named Clea, set in a dystopian future after the invasion of Iraq by US forces. Three companies in particular; Bartleby Automation, Grand Robotics, and Armament Inc., are the main holders of no bid contracts sanctioned by the government in what political analysts say will be the dawn of the security state. The opening of Turnover immediately hooked me and I was curious as to what would happen within the contained story of Clea and the outer ramifications in the rest of the country. Clea comes into the story after Bartleby Automation and Grand Robotics enter into merger talks that eventually break down. Grand Robotics then hires a security firm to take down Bartleby’s main headquarters, and this is where the game begins.
The player controls Clea and after being interviewed by an unknown source, you start out at the 16th floor of the Bartleby Automations headquarters. Players will immediately notice the dead bodies of co-workers and blood splatter all around the office as the guns for hire roam the floors for survivors. The environmental storytelling immediately struck me as I spent a good few minutes exploring ever corner of the floor to scrounge up as much info on what had happened as I could.
“Turnover does well at getting the player engaged in an interesting plot and the gameplay, while simple and sometimes a little unfair, is fun throughout.”
The gameplay of Turnover consists primarily of stealth actions as you try to slip by guards, dogs, cameras, and the like to get to the elevator on the other side of the room. Players are able to distract guards by throwing bottles or getting away if you are quick enough, which works well for a simple stealth game. Enemy guards though have field of vision cones that are far too wide and many times I caught myself waiting way longer than I should have to just to dart past a hallway and into another room. It also doesn’t help that the noise meter adds on to the difficulty wherein guards will spot you and the player will have little to no chance to get away. The guard dogs make it even harder as they are super alert, although you can resist them with a press of a button, similar to Hotline Miami. Where games like Hotline Miami allow players to actually fight back, it would have been nice to be able to do the same in Turnover. Besides the dogs, I would have liked to have seen some other simple abilities woven in to switch up the gameplay and keep things feeling fresh. The other thing you have to watch out for is shards of glass here and there and other items scattered around the map that will increase your noise level. Environments are built well and players are able to increase their stamina, useful for sprinting out of danger, and other attributes through finding collectibles scattered throughout the game.
The main thread of the game is essentially just a cat vs mouse plotline. As I would enter new areas I would immediately check out the radar and also drag my mouse over to see exact enemy locations and their pre-determined paths, which is important if you ever plan to pull a non-stop one run spree as I tried to do many times. This constant puzzle solving throughout the core stealth gameplay added a new layer to the game as it forces you to think about your next move and plan methodically to get to the next area. Keeping you going while all this is happening is an awesome 8-bit score rife with neat sound effects and an overall eerie tone.
Turnover does well at getting the player engaged in an interesting plot and the gameplay, while simple and sometimes a little unfair, is fun throughout. I enjoyed myself as I planned my runs and escapes to perfection, or failed immediately and had to devise a new plan. Turnover also excels in the audio/video department, with brilliant sound effects that capture the mood and meaningful environmental storytelling akin to the Bioshock games’ ability to tell stories based solely on art. More variety in enemy types and more gadgets at the disposal of the player would do wonders for an already solid stealth game.
- Superb environmental storytelling
- Interesting plot
- Great sound design
- Unfair AI
- Gameplay is too simplistic