Traveling the world at the whim of a bet is an exciting premise, but it’s really the stories you discover along the way, rather than the end goal, that makes 80 days a pleasure to play. It’s a narrative adventure in which you take on the role of Passepartout, the devoted French servant of one Phileas Fogg – the character who traveled the world in 80 days in the classic novel Jules Verne with a descriptive title Around The World in 80 Days. However, Verne named the character after the real adventurer Wiliam Perry Fogg, but as we learn in this new interpretation, his servant may have had to inherit the famous name. This is our 80 Days Review.
80 Days Review: About
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS, Macintosh
- Developer: Inkle, Cape Guy Ltd, Cape Guy Limited
- Publisher: Inkle, Profile Books
- Genres: Interactive fiction
- Release Date: July 31, 2014
80 Days Review: Official Trailer Video
80 Days Review: Gameplay
Dallying is not there, because you will be informed by lines of text that your master has taken a decent bet and you have to travel the world. You are immediately introduced to most central mechanics. You’ll be instructed to pack your bags so you can take a look at the item management system that presents itself in a grid-based format that will fit things into as many cases as you can currently afford. Next, sprawling trails are presented with lines extending across a globe, although the former is the short journey from your London starting point to the first stop in Paris.
You quickly discover that the great Phileas Fogg, while not necessarily a bad man, is more of a financier than an adventurer. The choices are entirely up to you, and Fogg is more of a thing to manage in the background. Keeping him happy and safe is a benchmark, and while you may start looking after him, it is clear from an early age that this is your adventure, not his.
In the early game you are relaxed in the process of selecting and boarding routes and you learn the benefits of items such as being able to haggle for an earlier departure time thanks to your neat dress. The icons are all clear and intuitive, and I never felt lost because of what I had to do thanks to this simple introduction, but I did notice that some of the game’s later intricacies were left for me. It paid off in the end, though I was wondering about previously missed opportunities.
While most of the information is presented in plain text, 80 Days uses his words to paint a vivid picture of a vibrant steampunk world where art and fashion mix with wild technologies. Everything is written from the perspective of Passepartout’s diary explaining the events, and sometimes he will even refer to the writing of those same words. You can choose how the story unfolds or change his perspective on some things, but his character still remains steadfast.
The only drawback of the stylish yet simplistic presentation was that it was sometimes quite difficult to find my place on the in-game map. When you are looking to travel, you will be shown your location on a globe and every path you unlocked from there. However, it was easy to turn around or not sure which direction to follow. This was partly because the seas and countries are similar in color, and in lesser-known parts of the world, I wouldn’t be sure what I was looking at until I zoomed out and could orient myself. Locations often bleed together, and it’s hard to get a good idea of where you are in the world if you’re unfamiliar with the names of the specific cities you happen to visit.
The transportation methods can be equally stunning. Due to the largely text-based nature of 80 days, you only get silhouettes of these transmissions, but these combined with Passepartout’s notes are enough to open the mind to wonder. Sometimes travel was pretty standard, by ship or train. Others I would find myself riding a giant mechanical elephant powered by some kind of inscribed crystal or the aforementioned city itself. I found myself approaching most things with a sense of awe.
You can also change the mentality of Passepartout’s character to some degree, be it a somewhat Stoic Frenchman looking at all other cultures or a man full of romance and fascination. I chose the latter and choosing to follow my heart often gave me more choices to continue my journey through other lodgings, so an adventurous spirit tended to pay off. You often get to see these side adventures where you can choose to divert your travels to help others or just have a brief affair on a long airship ride. These are not all good for you and your master, but they are not too punitive either.
Once I was captured by some bandit tribe, but luckily the responsible woman seemed to like Fogg’s sympathetic charms and free us. Another time, I was on an expedition to the North Pole, where we encountered sabotage. For days we were trapped in the sweltering snow while I tried to keep my master alive. The music, usually cheerfully adventurous, but repetitive, was turned off to make way for the gloomy sound of swirling icy winds. It looked like we were going to die there.
Fortunately, even that doesn’t really matter. In my first few playthroughs, I felt pressured to try to get back in time and easily came back around 60 days. Thanks to the wonders of the strange transport in 80 days, there isn’t much of a challenge to achieve this primary goal, although racing against the slow-moving clock didn’t like it at all – it was the stories and small goals I set myself up to discover new adventures.
80 days can also be relatively short depending on how you play. I found most of the playthroughs were about three hours; however, it is attractive to repeat and follow different paths, discover new cities or travel modes, so it is almost best to think of 80 days review as a run-based game. What is certain is that regardless of your goal or playing time, it is an adventure worth writing home about. It’s the stories you discover that make 80 days of fun to play.
There is a constant sense of wonder when visiting these glorious cities and meeting interesting characters, and I would like to jump back and see what kind of problems I can get into Passepartout. Phileas Fogg will just have to love it.
Traveling the world at the whim of a bet is an exciting premise, but it’s really the stories you discover along the way, rather than the end goal, that makes 80 days a pleasure to play.