My poor master, Phileas Fogg! We were doing so well in his frantic trip around the world. We had made it through Europe just fine, but then we were asked to escort a young lady from Tehran to Omsk. Maybe we shouldn’t have made that detour, but as it turned out, we had been caught up in some true cloak-and-dagger schemes. And then, of course, we were delayed when we ran out of funds to cross the Pacific. Waiting the extra half dozen days for the money to be sent to us proved to be too much. And then there was that dreadful business in Acapulco. We made it around the world, true, but we arrived back in London on the eighty-first day.
At least we made it home again. The last time my master attempted this, we both died of exposure while approaching the North Pole.
No, this isn’t Jules Verne fanfiction. It’s what happened to me while playing a fun little game called 80 Days. The concept is fairly simple: you’re the valet of an English gentleman who has taken a wager that he can make it around the world in eighty days or less. Unfortunately, your master is something of a worthless lump. It’s up to you to plan the route, manage the funds, and keep things on track. He’s just there to be waited on hand and foot in your spare time.
The game itself is pretty simple. You start in London and set out for the Continent in the 19th century version of the Chunnel. From Paris, it’s up to you how you proceed. Do you head for the Middle East? Cut through Russia? Swing down through Africa? The choice is yours, but you have to keep an eye on the date. There are times when you’ll get hung up in a city, waiting for a few days for the right transportation to arrive. You can use your master’s limited charms to speed things up or you can always try to bribe someone. But that brings up the other limiting factor: money. You start out with only four thousand pounds. You can always get more from a bank (if the city you’re in has one), but it can take hours or even days to get the funds you’ll need. You can always make more money by buying and selling trinkets along the way (such as scented candles, rolls of fabric, even an assortment of guns) or by doing odd jobs.
What really makes this game interesting, though, is the story. This isn’t just a straight-up retelling of Verne’s book. Now, admittedly, I haven’t read Verne’s book, but I’m willing to bet money on that statement, simply because this game is filled with steampunk-y goodness. Automatons, airships, steam engines abound in every corner. For example, in Chicago, you encounter a city that is constantly on the move. My poor character almost got run over by a house that was driving down the middle of the street. There’s a mysterious “Artificers’ Guild” that has outposts in every town you visit. And the story unfolds based on your choices.
What’s more, you can play your character to your liking. The first time I played the game, he was a dashing man of adventure who often ruffled his master’s feathers with his derring do. The second time around, I played him as being more meek and deferential. It does seem to effect the way the game progresses.
But unfortunately, there is a fly in the ointment: the game does get a bit repetitious in the early going. So far, every time I’ve played, I’ve made the run from Hong Kong to Yokohama, which means I’m on the same airship, talking to the same people, hearing the same stories. It does appear that, as you win successive games, new routes and stories are unlocked. For example, after my second or third playthrough, a new starting route opened up for me: instead of going to Paris, I could go to Cambridge and fly an experimental gyrocopter to the Nordic countries (which eventually led to the aforementioned freezing to death near the North Pole). So I guess you have to suffer through some repetition if you’re going to see it all.
Don’t get me wrong. This is a fun game, well worth the time and effort. So far, I’ve done pretty good, but I’m feeling to itch to start traveling with my master once again.80 Days is a fun (if a bit repetitious) video game you should check out! Click To Tweet