STEVE MILES·SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2019
80 days is one of those games that should make this reviewer run a mile! A “choose your own adventure” combined with trading aspects certainly grabs my attention with the latter, but generally, give me a heavy story based game and my interest and attention is somewhat limited. It’s mainly down to the construction of the game, and how engaging the story might be. I confess to having completed Diablo3 several times, without having a clue at what the story was about! When analysing how games generally work, with players sent from A to B or collect C from D, the mission structures can detract from the storytelling, and if the characters are generally unappealing then completing a game without the knowledge of any storyline, is easier done with the added ability to skip any cutscenes.
Luckily, with 80 days, the text heavy narrative is instantly engaging and interesting enough to warrant reading from the very start.Set in Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 days, players play as assistant to intrepid explorer Phileas Fogg in a quest to complete the around the world trip in that stated time frame.. Developers have very cleverly added a Steampunk flavour into the mix,thus making players delve into a fresh and mystifying new world, even for players familiar with the original novel and films.
For starters,and beginning in London, you are instructed to pack a suitcase and gather any items to take with you on the adventure ahead. There is a fixed sum of £4000, which is used to spend on travelling expenses, to and from the main cities around the world that you will visit and discover. Of course, travelling by using the many strange modes of transport here doesn’t come cheap. Then there are the prices of hotels to consider meaning that the sum of money you set out with can diminish fairly quickly. It soon becomes apparent that you will need to make money in order to live comfortably and more importantly, have enough finances to complete the 80 day trip! You will also need to carefully maintain the relationship with Phileas for the entire journey. The text requiring you to make decisions from a list of options, and those very decisions affect your character and your relations with the people you meet and with Phileas himself.
Reaching a destination, brings up various options. The market will allow you to buy new items and sell items you have already acquired. The hotel will give you a roof for the night but instantly deplete the clock, and explore will allow you to engage with the characters and take in the many sites of the location.Plan will allow you to book the next leg of the journey,and the bank to manage finances.
Graphically nothing is overly outstanding, but then it’s not really needed with the game so heavily text based. The locations from London to Paris to Munich etc..are drawn in as you progress across a giant world globe with routes appearing, either as standard or unlocked through clever discussion with certain characters you may meet in any given location.
Dilemmas and decision making comes thick and fast in this game, for example..
In Paris, I bought a bottle of vintage champagne for a small price, then instructed that this bottle would sell for £2500 in Munich. On visiting a museum, a character tells me there’s a cheaper and quicker balloon ride to Berlin..
Do I make a detour to Munich, and lose time progressing across the globe for the sake of extra profit?
Do I take the cheaper route straight across to Berlin gaining time but risking extra burden on overall expenses?
Most certainly, the Steampunk setting adds layers of added interest, mystery and intrigue. Many characters will describe incidents and instances of political unrest, but how far will you get involved? What rings true, is that I was instantly taken in early by the description of the train from London to Paris, and how it suddenly submerged under the English Channel for the crossing as yes, a metal steampunked amphibious train! Or the varied descriptions of the metal exhibits at the Paris Museum!
It has definitely worked here, and from a reviewer not caring for extensive narrative,80 days has certainly converted me,and most importantly given me the overall feeling of that of a budding explorer and adventurer with the world at their feet and what to do with it. If you are a text adventure fan, then this is worth a shot as it certainly is a bit different from mainstream and even if you are not, like me, then this is a good introduction and solid entry that is addictive and deep enough to warrant returning to in order to experience what the different cities and countries have to offer..
A pleasantly surprising and excitingly unknown journey each time..
Thanks to Inkle for the code.