MIKE CANDELIN·SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2019
Travel around the world; without having to leave the comfort of your own sofa.
80 Days is a breath of fresh air and a nice relaxing change of pace when compared to a lot of recent releases for the Nintendo Switch.
An interactive “choose your own adventure” graphical novel game that is very reminiscent of the old Fighting Fantasy adventure books from the 1980’s, made famous by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. It is set around the famous novel by Jules Verne where Phileas Fogg and his companion/valet Jean Passepartout have accepted a wager to circumnavigate the world in 80 Days, hence the games title.
Originally released by Inkle in 2014 on iOS and Android, followed closely by Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X in 2015, the game holds up very well by today’s standards and has aged extremely well, it also feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch with its controls feeling very natural.
You begin in London on day 1 with £4,000 and a selection of items that you have to “tetris” to fit in your bag before departing on your adventure with the first stop being Paris, France.
The starter items appear to differ with each play through depending on your initial choices and you only have one bag to fit your items in so choose wisely (you may purchase more bags as you progress, however certain modes of transport are limited on how many you may take so keep this in mind), some items will highlight new routes across the globe while others will be used to sell on the market and attempt to turn a profit on each transaction, each item has notes advising which country/countries it is sought after and thus you can demand a higher price (meaning more profit). Other items may be part of a “set” which will provide certain bonuses once you own them all (these differ from 2 items per set up to 4); some will increase comfort while using transport such as trains or airships, while others are more suited to colder or warmer climates.
You can often pay a little bit extra to obtain a faster departure from your current city, but this soon begins to stack up and drain your finances if you use this option a lot and this is where trading comes in to its own element. You have to think ahead about which route you are going to attempt and try to fully commit yourself; which can be difficult at times and I continuously found myself veering off course from my planned route, especially when I found and bought an item for less than £100 which was worth over £7,000 in a few select cities and this is where I began struggling and losing time and money.
Upon arriving at each destination you have a few options that are presented to you; Market, Bank, Hotel and Depart. Depending on what time you arrive the Market and Bank may be unavailable, at which point you must stay at the hotel for the night or explore the city you are in.
If you are low on funds you are turned away from the Hotel and have to sleep rough for the night, this greatly affects your relationship with Mr Fogg (more on this later) and can ultimately go towards the outcome at the end of your journey; likewise if you approach the bank for a loan it not only costs you time (the more you request to borrow the more days you lose waiting for it to clear) but also affects your overall expenses at the end of your journey.
If you explore you will encounter a random scenario and each selection of dialogue you choose will give you a different outcome. Some may give additional routes that will appear on the globe whereas others may lead to delays in your journey (I was caught in a riot and unfortunately got arrested, thus losing 4 days before I could continue my journey).
Every choice and decision you make has a repercussion and as such you have to think before making your choices.
During your journey you also have your relationship with Mr Fogg that you must maintain, this is visible in the bottom right corner of the screen and when you depart London it begins at 100.
Your relationship will deteriorate as you journey onward towards your goal and it is affected by various aspects such as your choices made during scenarios (do you go to bed early, or join that band of ruffians for a few drinks) or even the mode of transport you have chosen to use, remember you are Mr Fogg’s Valet and you are there to make his journey as comfortable and easy as possible.
You are frequently presented with options during your journey between cities that allow you to cater to Mr Fogg’s needs, this will in turn increase your relationship with him and I found it was a fun balancing act; do you talk to other people that are also on the transportation you have chosen (which may unlock more routes) or do you tend to Mr Fogg because a previous decision you have made has reduced your relationship with him? The choice is yours, but it is a nice dynamic to have added and although you are mindful of its presence, I was personally never overly concerned with it because it is pretty easy to raise it again (admittedly I always chose the morally right decision during a scenario).
The musical score I found to be very fitting and relaxing, it is the original works of the talented Laurence Chapman who has worked on various projects including TV show Knightfall (US History Channel), Hetty Feather (CBBC series) and even with Creative Assembly on the Total War game series.
The sounds on the other hand can get a bit repetitive over time, especially if you are on a long journey (on a train for example), it started off charming and put a smile on my face as I listened to it with the motion of the train on the screen, but after the 10th time it repeated I felt a little disappointed that there wasn’t much change in the loop.
All in all the game was very enjoyable and I will certainly look at other games in the genre (Joe Dever’s LoneWolf, I’m looking at you!). It is one of those games that is so charming, leisurely paced and thought provoking that I found myself playing a second run-through even after telling myself I’d just have one quick game. I played it through to completion 9 times, 4 of which were victorious, the other 5 not so much… but even with the failures, each time was a joy with no frustrations and the thirst to try again!