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80 Days Review: Phileas Fogg’s adventure gains new life

One of the greatest examples of story-telling within an app – well written, vast, and above all: entertaining

Price: $4.99/£2.99
Size: 157MB
Version: 1.0.3
Developer: inkle
Platform: Universal

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In amongst the rough vegetation of the app store amongst the gentle hum of near-identical platformers, addictive, but generic puzzlers, you will often find a true gem of a game. Every now and then, developers have a vision that they want to put something out there that’s worth a whole heap of a damn; when a quick buck isn’t the end game. 80 Days is one of these.

Part strategy game, part storytelling, all-engrossing, the game revisits the Jules Verne classic, Around the World in 80 Days. In amongst the excerpts of specially written text from the point of view of Fogg’s man-servant Monsieur Passepartout, lies a beautifully rich landscape – or rather worldscape. The year is 1872, and as Passepartout it is your job to guide Fogg around the globe, finding new maps and routes, alongside other items that you can trade, or use to keep your master both in health, and in pocket.

Well there’s no need to be unkind, Master Fogg

Well there’s no need to be unkind, Master Fogg

Choose your own adventure

The game acts as a kind of choose your own adventure book. While traveling, you’re provided with various interludes of story, based on the route, mode of transport, and area of the world you’re in. You also get the opportunity to explore these locations; across Europe, along the Trans-Siberian express route, and also down-under. However, wrong answers can land you in a bit of trouble. We experimented with a large investment: £2000 to get us right across Russia on the express, except, halfway across when the story offered us the opportunity to alight, we took it – just to stretch the legs. Of course, we weren’t allowed back on and had to pay for another ticket – when you’re in the middle of Siberia, your choices are limited.

But are the stakes ever that high? We made it from London to Pyongyang (it was a much easier city to traverse in those days) in a little under 4 weeks. We ran out of money once, and wired £1500 from London – which required just a two-day wait. At other times however, you have to wait around a week or so for a larger sum. But then this is the strategy bit – you have to plan your route accordingly, go to market accordingly, so you end up in the right places with the right belongings to barter with. A Fabergé egg may be worth little in Berlin, but up to £4,800 in Manama. However, with such a large map and so many routes, you wonder whether it’s worth saving it in your suitcase (transportation has luggage allowance, after all), or selling it in Stockholm for £200, just to stay warm that night.

There are a variety of ways to travel – the train is good, but it’s no airship

There are a variety of ways to travel – the train is good, but it’s no airship

Rich story

80 Days has a story so rich, it’s hard to imagine. At the beginning it can be a bit slow, but once you realize the strategic nooks and crannies; a quick comb of your masters hair will boost his demeanor and well-being on a cold night, you take to the task at hand with a persistent vigor. Then there’s other times… where you get stuck in Singapore. And there’s no way out. We tried for ages to find out how to leave Singapore, we traded, we bought, we slept rough hoping to meet someone that would reveal a route to the next location – but nothing. Eventually our money ran out, Fogg’s health was at zero. And. Nothing. Happened. In the end we had to restart it, which put a severe dampener on our enjoyment – what a waste of time!

You’re not the only one, Fogg.

You’re not the only one, Fogg.

However, overall, with a deep knowledge of the world – both in location, and at that time in history, the game is well worth your investment, and with so many story options available, you’ll get a fair few repeat plays out of it too – especially if you end up in Singapore, because you won’t have a choice.

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