By: Matthew Striplen
Ever wanted to travel the world in an alternate, steampunk-inspired 19th century world? Honestly, who wouldn’t? From developer Inkle comes 80 Days, which takes direct inspiration from Jules Verne‘s classic, Around the World in 80 Days, but with quite a few tweaks to keep even the biggest Verne fan intrigued.
80 Days’ controls are pretty simple, given that it’s a point and click. Buttons and commands are laid out in an intuitive fashion. Couldn’t ask for anything more.
Games like 80 Days often take the easy way out when it comes to graphics. This one turns that notion on its head, however, by employing a super sleek and minimalistic look. The lack of detail actually aids in gameplay, as the map only reveals locations once the player has learned about them. Also, each city or town has its own color scheme and, often times, design.
Meanwhile, the best parts of the graphics come in the form of the depictions of the various modes of transit. Many of them take inspiration from steampunk aesthetic, which make them look old-fashioned yet somehow futuristic at the same time.
The soundtrack for 80 Days follows with the minimalistic style of the graphics. Many of the travel scenes only have noises from the mode of transportation, which also makes the music upon arriving in a city much more impactful.
While 80 Days takes tons of inspiration from the source material, it also deviates from the original quite a bit, most notably with its inclusion of multiple pathways. Players can choose any possible route across the world, meaning its replay value is nearly limitless.
Each city and transit line offers unique challenges for the player to navigate, which often change between playthroughs. The sheer amount of variety all but ensures that players will never become bored of the game.
These situations range from the mundane, like chatting up elderly women, all the way to fighting in an impromptu boxing match aboard an airship. Each choice you make directly affects your journey, as good outcomes can open new pathways while negative ones can cause massive destruction.
Gameplay unfolds as it would in a book, until the options are displayed. Remember those choose-your-own-adventure books you read when you were little? 80 Days borrows that concept and absolutely perfects it. Each choice carries genuine weight, plus the writing quality remains consistently high.
Keeping in line with the book, 80 Days places you in the shoes of Passepartout, the French valet of the English gentleman Phileas Fogg. Fogg places Passepartout in charge of the entire adventure in addition to his usual valet services.
Each leg of the journey comes at a cost, both monetary and physical — for instance, utilizing a cheaper mode of transportation may take a greater toll on Fogg’s health, as well as your relationship with him. Maintaining a balance between your finances and Fogg plays a crucial role in the overall game.
As a valet, Passepartout carries and packs Fogg’s suitcases, meaning he can bring items to help their journey. Certain items reduce the physical wear and tear of specific transit types, while others can be sold at high prices in specific locations.
Talking to fellow travelers can provide tips on where these items can be found, or information on current events around the world. Keep these events in mind, as items, like a book of communist philosophy, can get you in serious trouble, depending on the location.
Once landed in a city, time continues to flow. Every mode of transit has a set departure time and date, so make sure not to be late. The time mechanic is one of the only issues I had with the entire game. Time flows very quickly, meaning you have to think fast to avoid getting stuck in a city overnight. The ticking clock adds another layer of realism to the game, but the speed with which it runs tends to be a nuisance.
Although 80 Days is a strictly single-player experience, gamers can see other players traveling. This shows their mode of transit, destination and current date.
80 Days is easily one of the best games I’ve played this year. The multitudes of fully developed paths are undoubtedly impressive and create huge replay value. The top notch writing also ensures players remain hooked for the entire adventure. If you own a platform that supports this game, 80 Days is an absolute must buy.