80 Days Review (iOS)
A few weeks ago my boyfriend handed me his iPad and told me to have a wee go at a game called 80 Days. Now, having grown up regularly watching the delightful 1956,David Niven film, I imagined a gently hectic journey through balmy climes; rescuing princesses and having amusing adventures with opium dealers. Little did I, or my boyfriend, realise that here was an almost perfect little game that would have me ignoring him on a regular basis for weeks to come. He bought me my own copy as he needed the iPad for work, but I enjoyed the game so much that didn’t even mind starting again, because now I had a shiny new copy of my own! (Queue the embarrassingly girly squeeee).
80 Days, by Inkle, is a delightfully steampunked version of the Jules Verne classic in which you play the character of Passepartout; a French valet to the very English gentleman Phileas Fogg. It’s a narrative based game with fairly basic graphics and it works mainly on a multiple choice basis. Depending on your choices your character deteriorates or improves in Monsieur Fogg’s opinion, gets clonked on the head by an engineering nun, runs afoul of a professional pugilist and any number of other eventualities. You also need to buy and sell things as you go along in order to reduce your eventual debt and having to wait precious days for the banks to cough up much needed money.
I’ve been around the world three times now in 100, 101 & 75 (yes 75!) days. There’s almost endless fun to be had in checking out different routes, different cities and having adventures all over the place. Inkle have built into the game a wealth of smaller narratives. Depending on which cities you visit you can get embroiled in quests for mechanical souls, save Fogg from the amorous intentions of various ladies, get lost in the Outback and even discuss the intricacies of Native American politics.
80 Days can also most definitely be seen as an educational game. I have to admit that my grasp of geography is better now than it was a month ago. Mainly due to furious route planning and a poorly judged mad dash around Africa in the wrong direction (a mistake that lost me my wager!).
The graphics in 80 Days are very simple. You’re presented with a globe showing various routes available to you depending on how you’ve played, and a very basic monochrome overlay of whichever craft you happen to be traveling in. Add the chronometer and the ever changing text, and you’re pretty much done. This simplicity doesn’t detract at all from the game however; in fact I felt that it possibly even helped as there was little to distract me from the text and the decisions before me.
Some games can be a bit awkward to play on the smaller iPhone screen, but I found that this game played just as well on my phone as it did on the iPad, possibly even better because the phone is more portable. I admit that I have no idea about the music on 80 Days as I mainly played on the train and on my breaks at work, so kept my phone on silent. But from what I do remember of my early play on the iPad, the music seems nicely pitched and fairly gentle with the odd sound effect for verisimilitude depending on your method of travel (Ed: the sound is excellent and very atmospheric, adding a lot of lovely ambient effects based on the locales).
Do yourselves a favour folks; spend three quid on this game and immerse yourself in it, or merely dip into it whenever you have five minutes, and make your merry way around the world. You’ll either thank me the introduction or hate me for getting you addicted!
4.5 Automatic Hearts out of 5