Review: 80 days

Traveling on earth seems somewhat banal now that we can go to the moon and around our planet in a matter of days, but in 19th century quasi-steampunk Europe gentlemen were betting whether you could do it in 80 days. Mobile success 80 days makes its way onto Steam, and if you hadn’t had the opportunity to answer that question before, now you do. Spoiler: you can.

You’re cast into the role of Mr. Passepartout, French valet to English gentleman and rich person Phileas Fogg, who’s wagered with other gentlemen at the club that he can, as a matter of fact, circumnavigate the world in less than 80 days. You’ll quickly learn that what he meant by that is that his valet can pull all the strings so he circumnavigates the world in 80 days.

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As Passepartout you’re responsible for planning the routes, grooming Mr. Fogg and taking care of his assets and inventory.

Tasked with learning what are the possible routes and means of travel and packing accordingly, as well as keeping your master in tiptop shape – a gentleman must always have his beard trimmed and his clothes ironed, after all, regardless of what he’s doing -, you must ensure the survival of both of you as you go through places of varying danger, as you cross countries on the cusp of revolution and sail with people of disputable repute. It falls onto you not only to manage supplies and plan routes, but (and this is where the game shows its narrative excellence) to talk to the merchants, caravanserai, captains, guildsmen and military men you cross in your journey, drawing information from them and deciding the consequences of your meetings. As they say, behind every great man is a valet.

Each location you visit is uniquely fleshed out, with bi-chromatic drawings of fitting buildings (mosques, churches and historical landmarks) and vehicles you use. Set in an alternate history 19th century, where technology has taken a different path than it took, you’ll hop onto maglev trains and run into armies of automatons created by the artificer’s guild. The gradual discovery of just how different things are in this universe improves the sense of mystery and awe, as while things might seem normal at first you’ll quickly notice that they are closer to Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea than the book that actually inspired the game.

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With multiple itineraries to take and locations to visit, each with their unique stories and characters, there’s plenty of reasons to travel around the world more than once.

With its excellent writing and well-thought, slick presentation, 80 days is a hard game to pass on if you’re a fan of the interactive fiction genre. It adds a spin of its own with the resource management and route-choosing, but what really carries it is its extreme verbosity and how each journey will be a unique one due to it. Despite having enjoyed its computer version, the format and how a playthrough can easily last you less than a couple of hours makes 80 days a game I’d recommend purchasing on your mobile device over the computer one – though you can’t go wrong with either.

80 days was played on retail code provided by the publisher.

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