In 1872, London, England, a bet was made that one could circumnavigate the globe in a mere 80 days. Such a bold claim for the time, nobody believed it could be done, so the bet was agreed to and Englishman Phileas Fogg set off by train with his French servant, Jean Passepartout, on October 2nd and was to arrive back in London by December 21st. This marks the beginning of the 1873 novel Around the World in Eighty Days, which would follow the adventures of the two men as they successfully travel across the world in the titled eighty days. But this isn’t a review of the novel, instead this is a look at Inkle’s 80 Days, now available on Nintendo Switch, after having been a mobile and PC game beforehand.
Developed by Inkle
Published by Inkle
Released: 1st October 2019 (Switch Version)
Review copy provided by Inkle
Being upfront, there really isn’t too much that needs to be said about the game. You take on the role of Passepartout as you assist Phileas Fogg in his endeavours to conquer the bet he made. The premise is fairly straightforward, especially if you’re already familiar with the original novel. But saying that, nothing about what follows is straightforward at all. The whole idea is that you are granted total freedom to see where the story takes you at every step of the journey. There is unfathomable amounts of choice along the way with many factors determining where you end up travelling and even what happens whilst you’re at various destinations. Basic choices like where you go obviously affect the outcome of events, but other choices like purchases you make, whether you choose to linger in locations, who you talk to, how much attention you pay to Fogg, and so on. Each of these little choices can potentially snowball into larger events later down the line.
With all the choices available to you, it’s no surprise that a majority of the game is entirely new. Inkle boasts that the game is twelve times longer than the original novel, and it’s easy to see why. Even after several play throughs I do not feel like I’ve remotely scratched the surface to all the possibilities. Taking the same route a second, third or fourth time still leads to different possibilities, as any number of branching paths present themselves with every option taken. Another thing quickly apparent is the steampunk inspiration, as it very quickly evident from submerging train taken across the English Channel, mechanical horses carrying coaches and hulking airships travelling across the skies.
Resource management is a major factor in the game. Your money is your primary concern on this front, don’t let it run too low or you won’t be able to pay for journeys. So how do you top it up? Firstly, you can visit a bank in any major city, but withdrawing money takes time which can use up your valuable time limit of eighty days. You can also buy items in the markets and sell them in other cities, some items fetch a very high price somewhere else. Many items also aid your comfort, a panama hat for hot climates or a warm coat for cold ones. Buying too many items means you may need to buy more suitcases to fit them all, which can later lead to concerns with travel where there isn’t room in luggage compartments, you may have to leave something behind or hire more space. Fogg’s wellbeing is important too, which you don’t want to drop too low either. Every little minutiae has an impact one way or another.
If you’re not particularly into reading, particularly novels, there isn’t anything truly exciting to be experienced by 80 Days. It has a narrative style that owes itself to the classic literature it is inspired by, lending itself to the imagination filling in the blanks, so the game may not appeal to you if you haven’t sat down and been enthralled by a novel before. Even so, it has strengths over traditional literature than only choose your own adventure novels have in common with it. I can not begin to stress the amount of choice available to you any more than I already have, it really does shine in this aspect and can have you covered for hours on end. It also suits itself very well to quick bursts of play, if not more so than sitting down for extended periods of time (owing itself to its mobile origins). It fits the Switch perfectly in this regard. Hopefully 80 Days inspires people to be adventurous, as there is certainly chance for an awakening to travel much like Passepartout’s endeavours.
Final rating – 4 out of 5
80 Days is available now for Nintendo Switch, PC/Mac, Android and iOS.
Long time fan of Nintendo and games in general, I always lean on the quirkier and unique sides of things in particular. It all started when I was lucky enough to get a Gameboy Color and Pokemon Yellow for my tenth birthday and it’s been going strong ever since. I’ve always had a need to get my voice heard and share anything I find interesting with the world.
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