80 Days is interactive fiction at its finest
Published on Aug 8, 2014 6:00 AM
The year is 1872 and Phileas Fogg has just wagered that he can travel around the world in 80 days.
The game is based on the novel Around The World In 80 Days by Jules Verne. Players take on the role of Passepartout, Fogg’s valet, who has to help Fogg to circumnavigate the globe.
The world shown here is a fascinating blend of retrofuturism and steampunk. Trains function as submersibles, steam-powered automatons walk the city streets and there is even a mechanical elephant to ride.
The game plays out much like an interactive novel. A player has to decide where to go and how he should act in situations. His decisions shape the narrative..
There are more than 150 locations to explore, allowing for a vast array of possibilities. One can traverse Russia, taking the Trans-Siberian train from Moscow, passing through Ekaterinburg and Omsk before reaching Beijing.
On the other hand, taking a more southerly route would let players visit Nice, Athens and Delhi, before making a stop at our very own Singapore.
Of course, all these choices matter little if there is no variation. Happily, each location is unique, offering different events and outcomes that vary according to the choices a player makes.
The game relies heavily on text, using sharp writing to describe locations evocatively. The art style is clean and colourful.
A player has to juggle other factors in his travels – time, money and health. Choosing the fastest ride may not be the best option, as the ride may be more expensive or uncomfortable, adversely affecting one’s health. And if a player is not healthy enough to travel, he has to waste time recuperating.
An inventory system lets players find, buy or sell items. A cheap jade pendant found while travelling in Asia may sell for thousands in the United States. A player can gain information by talking to people, get tips on different cities and seek out new transport routes.
Each playthrough lasts five to seven hours, depending on one’s reading speed. Because of the amazing number of locations, each playthrough is very different from the last, giving the game a lot of replay value.
This is a great game with an imaginative world begging to be explored. However, be prepared to do a lot of reading as the majority of the gameplay is conveyed through text.
This article was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life on August 06, 2014.
- $5.98 (iOS)