Impressions: 80 Days

80 Days was originally a mobile game that saw a PC release in 2015. It takes its larger plot from the Jules Verne novel “Around the World in Eight Days.” In it, you play the valet to the novel’s protagonist, Phileas Fogg (based on real-life adventurer William Fogg), who has made a bet that he could get around the world in 80 Days. The player takes over Passepartout, but unlike the novel, you/the valet are really the protagonist of this journey.

You start in London with 4000 pounds in the late 1800s and must make all the choices and importantly discover all the paths that will allow you to guide Fogg from London to London, going around the globe, in 80 Days. You start with two options; from there, the game branches in several different directions and allows the player to visit many cities. Not only do you have to worry about your path and money, but you also need to worry about Fogg’s health and his “relationship” level with Passepartout. Beyond that, what you do in each city is entirely up to you. Most, but notably not all, cities have a market where you can buy and sell goods.

– Goods are an important part of this game because there are many types with many different benefits. Some will not sell for much, but having them when traversing different routes will make a difference. So, for instance, some paths you take will be exceptionally uncomfortable, the more goods you have in the “comfort” pack will mean the less you have to worry about Fogg’s health. There are also warm goods, goods to protect from dust, etc. They basically serve to help counter the negative impacts of traveling. In addition, you can buy goods in one location, and then either at the market or through dialogue find out where to sell those same goods for the most value. But… there is a limitation to how much you can carry, so smart inventory management and choices are a factor. –

You can explore as a way to open up different routes and different story paths. You can also simply sleep in hotels and then depart. There is also an option to visit a bank in case your funds are running low, but you will be punished by waiting to be able to pick up said funds.

Honestly, this game made me think a lot of The Oregon Trail, although much more updated. You start with limited funds, have to make choices with the path you will take, and importantly while there is a lot of fiction happening, there is also history. For example, for “some reason” (wink), I chose to go off the smart path to make a little detour to New Mexico. There I managed to unlock a scene where I was asked to help a strange man accuse people of robbing me so he could be the hero, and he is then appointed Marshal. The strange man turned out to be Milton J. Yarberry. Now clearly, this whole exchange was made up, but Yarberry was, in fact, the first Marshal of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was appointed by also mentioned, Sheriff Perfecto Armijo. It is heavy on the “fiction” part of historical fiction, but you will run into people and events that are true to what was happening at the time. Splashed in are also illnesses that can happen, that were once again a problem with all the traveling happening, and various issues with how your character is treated/treats people in different locations.

Honestly, for me, the most enjoyable aspects of the game came when I said, screw Fogg’s time limit I just want to visit as many places as possible. You also have a few branching stories that start at one point, and you can carry on to various cities. Sprinkled in is again not really “historical” moments but true to time moments. Passepartout is none too happy about visiting certain areas, but depending on the branching options you choose for the character, you can help him develop a sense of understanding that while not Europe, some places are still just as wonderful if not more so. Another more specific instance, I got a dialogue option with a freed slave who believed she had found a safe haven in New York but needed to flee when the Union draft started as there were many Confederate supporters in the city at the time. “She” was not a real person, but her account was based on the actual historical context.

But as it was also based on Jules Verne, there are things that can’t even be closely called historical fiction, like many robots and a few forms of travel. I only add this because you stumble upon that early and often. The science-fiction thread is there; it just doesn’t mean the historical fiction one is lost.

Which also brings me to gameplay and the freedom with it. You can be very focused on the goal, obsessed with Fogg, and have the valet basically not explore hardly at all.

Or you can do what I did in almost every playthrough and just explore and find all the little bits of information you can. The way I played the game, there was a heavy theme of the competition being inherently wrong. Why try to get around the world as quickly as you can when what is worthwhile is just… exploring and learning?

There is also a lot of replayability with this game because unless you just say “screw it” completely, you simply aren’t going to visit every place in one playthrough; I mean, you might not even unlock every location because you have limited dialogue and exploring options. But it is fun, in my opinion, to explore because you are doing a micro exploration of the world.

It is all done in choices, and there is no voice acting. The music and sound effects are decent, but the game is… quiet. I blame that a lot on it originally being for phones. I enjoyed playing it on computer (and don’t think I would have enjoyed the mobile version), but I ended up needing background noise big time. You will also be confronted with having to repeat a lot of dialogue options, especially if you take the “I don’t want to win I want to explore route.” Other than that though, not a lot of down points?

So bottom line? Really it does feel like a new adaption of Oregon Trail. A lot more expanded, many more options, more challenging, etc., but it has that feel of a game that is more about experiencing a moment in history to me. There is no real difficult gameplay, you just have to make choices and watch your money and Fogg’s health. It might be light on actual “game” aspects for players, but if a story-heavy adventure around the world sounds good to you, it’s worth picking up. I also think a lot of casual gamers will find something here too. I haven’t played the mobile version, nor do I have much interest, and found it great on PC. It’s also reasonably priced and goes on sale often. If anything above sounds interesting, I would give it a strong recommend.

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