Genre: Visual Novel Adventure Game
Release date: September 28, 2015
"All of my plans were falling apart. A storm had struck in the midst of the night, and the captain had made the regretful error of changing course. Instead of San Francisco, world travelers Monsieur Phineas Fogg and I, his trusty steward Passepartout, were now bound for Honolulu. And with only 16 days remaining on our trip around the world, something drastic would have to be done; we would have to steal the ship."
This beautifully written verse marks just one of the many adventures I stumbled upon while playing 80 Days, a story-driven adventure game created by indie developer Inkle. A wonderful adaptation of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days, the game tasks players with escorting the illustrious Phineas Fogg around the world in 80 days in order to win a bet. Playing as Fogg's steward, Passepartout, players must choose the route and be ready for any adventure that may occur on their round-the-world journey.
80 Days is a fairly difficult game. With the in-game clock forever reminding you that time is of the essence, players must travel efficiently and affordably in order to avoid running out of funds or time. I personally failed my first three trips around the world, which left both Fogg and Passepartout penniless by game's end. But 80 Days encourages repeat playthroughs. In fact, the most interesting and exciting portions of the game are unlocked after the first or second playthrough. After my third failure, a new route opened up to me that led me on a wild journey across the North Pole. These sorts of events occur often in 80 Days. In one trip, I fell in love with a Mongolian Princess, met a toy maker with a dangerous secret, and was poisoned by a mad baroness. The following trip, I met a master thief and became a pirate.
These adventures are what make 80 Days so fascinating. Every location -- and the game boasts 170 -- is packed to the brim with information and colorful characters. Repeat playthroughs unveil a story of a world on the brink of either a technical Renaissance or bloody revolution. The more I played, the more I wanted to discover what other secrets awaited me in the fascinating year of 1872. .
Compared to most PC games, 80 Days is relatively light on gameplay. Most of your time is spent reading vast walls of well-written text. Some small gameplay elements come into effect when buying and trading in the marketplace, but the vast majority of your time is spent reading and making decisions. Gamers looking for a more action-oriented experience could find themselves disappointed.
When events occur, players are able to make dialogue or action choices that change the way the event plays out. During conversations, for example, Passepartout can sometimes withhold information from others or choose to give them his trust. It all depends on how the player wants to play. Some choices further the adventure, but making the wrong choice can occasionally end an adventure in its tracks. Shortly after exploring the Library of Alexandria, one of my companions disappeared and I didn't know how to save her. As a result, I continued on my journey without ever learning her fate. I regretted the outcome, but all it takes is another trip around the world to make a different choice and save her.
The true joy of 80 Days comes from discovering new adventures and crafting your own story. In one adventure, Passepartout is a dashing rogue who aligns with honorable thieves and tries to stop a war. In another, he is a hapless steward who's dragged against his will across Europe until a sky pirate hijacks our car and sends us barreling southward. These individual stories are what make 80 Days so much fun to play.
80 Days is an immensely enjoyable adventure game that uses storytelling and decision-making to craft remarkable stories. Each trip around the world takes about an hour, and playing through the game multiple times unveils more and more layers to the story. The simplistic gameplay and art style lend to the storytelling nature of the game. Rather than complicated menus and elaborate environments, 80 Days instead encourages players to use their imagination as they delve into Phineas Fogg's and Passepartout's adventures across the world. It's as simple a game as any, but I can't think of any game in recent memory that has made me want to start a new playthrough immediately after finishing.
+ Simple to pick up and play immediately
+ Very well-written stories
+ Countless adventures to stumble upon
- Game is very reading-intensive