80 Days Review: Around the World In a Steampunk Airship

If you ever thought there was room in Jules Verne's classic novel for airships and brass automatons, this choose-your-own-adventure around the world is just the mobile game for you.

(Note: This review is done on the standalone review build of the game and pre-dates the official Android release.)

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Phileas Fogg has wagered he can circumnavigate the globe.

As his trusty French valet Passepartout, all the hard work of the journey is left to you – the planning, the packing… but also a wealth of possibility. Balancing your master’s health, your finances, and the time to explore, you have the ability to trace hundreds of journeys and thousands of possible routes. There is an entire world of new faces to meet and the choice to travel by steamer, express train, airship, hover-car, hydrofoil, gyrocopter, camel, horse-back, hot-air balloon… the list goes ever on and on.

Can you make it around the world in 80 Days?

The answer is that whether or not you do, you will have a wonderful time getting there.

80 Days is an adventure game in a way that few other games can call themselves an adventure game. 

In recent years the choose-your-own-adventure model of gaming has fallen by the wayside a little. Sure, Telltale has propelled themselves into top story-driven point-and-click status with games like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, and the Mass Effect trilogy continues to stand as a gold standard for AAA player-propelled character and story development, but even Chrono Trigger can’t claim the hundreds, perhaps even thousands of decisions one can make in this text-based adventure around the world. 

This is because the game is pared down to almost nothing but story – rolling dialogue options and character decisions on a background of ambient sound and charming music. This simplicity means that the only thing limiting where the story might lead is what hasn’t been written – yet. 

With a script of around 500,000 words (more than the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy), and over 10,000 potential choices, Inkle Studios is meticulous about delivering not just a finished product that plays through to the end, but one that provides an almost endless amount of replayability. 

In a single playthrough, I passed through a little over two dozen cities – whereas I could easily have visited 5 times as many. I played through hours of route-planning where I fanboyed over mechanized autonomatons, made new friends, argued with my master, and fell in with a cult. All these adventures, and that was barely a fifth of all that you can possibly do.

And they’re hardly finished.

The Android release through Google Play and the Amazon Appstore earlier this month also introduced an added expansion of about 30,000 words to the original – a new polar epansion that has been added as a free update to iOS players just in time for the holidays. 

In this uncharted course through the North Pole, it’s possible to shave precious days off the trip, but its landscape is treacherous and conditions are harsh. If you trek through this area of the globe, you may be met with potentially tragic consequences. 

Unfortunately, I was too busy chasing robots in the Amazon to see for myself. The goal for me was to try and wallow through all the strange, steampunky unknowns of the world in 80 Days, and to a Canadian… well, a treacherous land of snow and ice just doesn’t have that air of exoticism when you come in from shoveling it off your driveway. That’s the beauty of this game though – there’s simply so much else to do.

Of course, not all of it is perfect – the packing inventory system is occasionally quite clunky and doesn’t feel like it adds a great deal to story progression. Choosing what you pack often just feels like a crapshoot, no matter how closely you read the descriptions for each item. 

Time progression in the game is odd, and the game doesn’t explicitly tell you that you can fast-forward time just by long-tapping the clock, so beginner players are left either waiting for a ferry or car in real time or by fast-forwarding with a hotel stay (and often missing their intended transport). However, these are all minor in comparison with the weight of the narrative.

If you’re one to enjoy reading, once you poke at the game long enough to learn its mechanics and settle down into the right mindset for a game devoid of flashy combat and scoreboards, you are almost bound to enjoy yourself watching the story unfold the way you want it.

80 Days is available on Google Play, the Amazon Appstore, and the Apple Appstore for $5USD – and I find this a completely justifiable purchase price for what you’re getting. 

Will you be taking Phileas Fogg’s gamble?

8
80 Days Review: Around the World In a Steampunk Airship
If you ever thought there was room in Jules Verne's classic novel for airships and brass automatons, this choose-your-own-adventure around the world is just the mobile game for you.

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Author
Stephanie Tang
Avid PC gamer, long-time console lover. I enjoy shooting things in the face and am dangerously addicted to pretty. I'm also a cat.