80 Days (iOS) Review

By Chris Leebody 04.09.2014 2

Review for 80 Days on iOS

Inkle Studios, the team behind 80 Days has significant pedigree when it comes to this genre of interactive story games/apps having already been responsible for a reworking of Frankenstein, as well as the incredibly well received adaptation of Steve Jackson's Sorcery! and Sorcery! 2, and to top it off, even an app for people to make their own interactive stories. Having been released this year and available on the Apple App Store for £2.99, Inkle has now turned to re-imagine in its signature style a true world literature classic from Jules Verne, namely Around the World in Eighty Days, the story of Phileas Fogg and his infamous wager. The challenge for the game is to suck the audience into a world as vivid as that of the one crafted with such imagination as Verne has, but also offer a branching interactive story that entices traditional gamers to play. Does it manage this? Read on to find out…

The first point to emphasise is that 80 Days sits as one of those experiences in which gameplay is very thin on the ground but is absolutely not missed at all. This is an experience in which the story captures the player's complete undivided attention. The simple fact is that the story is wonderful and does justice to the source material it is based upon, while also being given a nice re-imagining.

The thrust of the story is that the player takes control of Phileas Fogg's trusty valet Jean Passepartout, who gets him out of (and into, at times) all sorts of situations throughout a journey that starts in London and takes them across the complete globe and back again in order to win Fogg's bet. Each city has its own little vignette of story, which is interactive with player choice and boasts its own consequences throughout, whether that is in dialogue later on, or simply receiving a useful item to sell further down the line.

Screenshot for 80 Days on iOS

To win said bet of Fogg's, the requirement is to start from London and gradually plot a route on the map from city to city across the world, all the while keeping watch on some gameplay devices such as Fogg's supply of money, which is used to pay for the different modes of travel, or Fogg's health, which deteriorates depending on whether the player chooses to take a fast choice of transport or a slow leisurely one. Days must also be spent in hotels, keeping in mind that there is a large clock always keeping time of how many days have passed.

That being said, the actual risk of ever running out of money or Fogg's health, is in all honesty incredibly slight and is why (as stated earlier) gameplay is not the main focus of attention. Even the worry of passing the 80 day mark should be put to the side because it actually puts an unnecessary restriction on the enjoyment of what is an absolutely fabulous story experience. Forget about the time and explore every inch of this world because it is worth it.

The writing stays true to the spirit of adventure, which Verne is renowned for, with each city and its story content like a two minute episode, boasting all sorts of different events, from a revolution in Paris to traveling on the Trans-Siberian Express train amongst convicts, military officers and a whole collection of people. The further that is travelled from Europe the more exotic the adventure gets, and it delivers exactly the kind of experience one gets from reading an adventure novel, with the benefit of being able to actually interact with the other characters, talk to them for information and generally jump even further into and shape the lore. Some games have five environments, 80 Days literally has a whole world to explore.

Screenshot for 80 Days on iOS

The writers have not stuck rigidly to Verne's tale, as an observer might discover. The famous bet is only the starting point for a game which crafts what is a really cool steampunk-type world on top of the traditional Victorian story, with floating trains and automatons just some of the things present that really propel the game into another world of 'Vernian' imagination and emphasise the spirit of invention in his time.

The quality of the dialogue in the game is perfect, as well, with a real dedication made to stick to the type of vernacular used in Victorian fiction and at this time in Victorian society. Fogg and Passepartout speak like typical-of-the-time men and the game is brilliant at displaying the contrasts in styles of conversation between different cultures and classes, as was the case of the Victorian era.

As should be apparent, the graphics in 80 Days are definitely one of the points that is focused on least for good reason. However, it is not to say they don't have their own level of craft, just in a slightly different way than a traditional game. For example, the way the words and story scrolls down into the form of a book as the player makes a dialogue choice is very nicely realised.

Screenshot for 80 Days on iOS

Additionally, the Google Earth-style world map is very clean and functional, and each city or mode of transport is brought to life with a hand drawn black and white silhouette drawing on the screen of a famous landmark of that city, which just adds to the sense of difference in each one and is another small reason to keep exploring.

The sound design is actually largely the only negative point of the game, simply being that there is not much to talk about. What is there is nice and does the job, such as the noise of a train when on-board one, or the noise of a bustling market or street. If this was an AAA developer would there be voiced characters? Who knows, but in a way it is refreshing that the game sticks (like a novel does) to letting the player's imagination have some of the work to do.

Finally, there is a very small element of multiplayer present in 80 Days, with other players' journeys being physically visible on the world map as the game is being played. It is a neat, if not ultimately, useful feature that gives just a small sense that players are able to monitor each other's progress and imagine that they are competing against one another to see who can cross the world first.

Screenshot for 80 Days on iOS

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

80 Days is quite simply a stunning game, as well as a fantastic literary experience. Both gamers and non-gamers will enjoy it and the writing and story puts many larger RPG experiences on better known platforms to shame. As an iOS app it is a must have at the price. The absence of a bigger soundtrack and the focus on limited graphical interference might put some off, and the fact that Inkle might go on and create something even better someday are the sole reasons for not awarding it a perfect score. A masterful experience; Jules Verne would be proud.

Developer

inkle

Publisher

inkle

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Great review, Chris. Even stingy ole Edge gave this game a 9. This is a game I really want but will have to wait for an Android release.

Old Man / Font of all useless knowledge

Yes that is an unfortunate thing actually, that they have not brought an Android release of the game.

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