80 Days (PC) Review

By Thom Compton 30.09.2015

Review for 80 Days on PC

Interactive fiction is a term that carries a lot of weight with it, mostly because so many people don't know what it is. When non-gamers think about gaming, they think Call of Duty and Halo. They don't consider how a game could be more tranquil. 80 Days epitomises interactive fiction, as it tells a story loosely based on Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days. However, unlike the narrative it found inspiration in, it explores every nook and cranny of what such a journey would be like. Following an exceptionally well-received review on iOS last year, Cubed3 now travels the globe in the PC release.

Upon turning on 80 Days, it becomes clear quickly that this is a different type of game. Indie titles are often pixelated, but here a break is made. There is a beautifully realised map, looking like one of Earth shown before old newscasts. Characters are drawn in a very English art style, and it's pretty much consistently charming. Cities are shown as silhouetted cut outs, like a stage production, of each city's biggest attractions. It's a pretty game through and through.

The soundtrack is fantastic. Up-tempo as trekking is made around the globe; the sense of a journey is never missing from the grandiose ensemble. Appropriately, during the evenings it dies down, and does something few soundtracks manage to accomplish. It feels like another playable component, even though the player can never pick up an instrument to assist. It's an overwhelming accomplishment, even though, at times, it feels slightly cookie cutter - even if good work is good work, and no amount of feelings of familiarity can detract from that.

Then (drum roll, please) the story. Jules Verne is a fantastic writer, but storytelling was different in that time. That time is reflected in every single line of 80 Days superbly. Even the script seems more refined, like the writers had to write it in pen, meaning every word had to count. Over time, players can grow close to the protagonist and the people traveling with him.

One remarkable feat the 80 Days accomplishes is how likable Fogg is. Too often, wealthy people in stories, across all mediums, come off as crooked and, for lack of a better word, weird. Fogg is a gentleman, and while he isn't the player character, is a treat to speak with.

Great characters can only showcase their greatness in fantastic situations, and this title delivers those wholeheartedly. Every city can be explored, allowing not only pivotal moments in history to be seen, but also the growing closer to characters that persist throughout. A lot of the history is not only accurate, but somewhat obscure, and relevant to the region being visiting. It's a fantastic touch, and gives a feeling of wholeness.

Screenshot for 80 Days on PC

One of the hardest things to pull off, in any video game genre, is branching story paths. 80 Days handles these well, though feels a bit flat at times. For instance, when leaving many of the cities, the city to venture to next can be chosen. This is great, as each city has certain advantages over others. Unfortunately, some of them seem to have much less story than others. Too often, it is possible to feel jilted, like having picked another city would have yielded more story.

Also, travelling has moments that feel more cumbersome and tedious than exciting and adventurous. Other travellers can be spoken to, and this often leads to situations where various dialogue options must be chosen. These don't feel as balanced; sometimes, every option has to be picked before the conversation will be over, and other times it ends at the first option. It is, however, realistic, so it can be overlooked.

Dialogue is, by and large, well-written. Even though it often feels like bad decisions can never be reversed, it does continue that sense of realism. The only major issue that is frequently presented occurs when setting out for the next city. Having to either spend money (which stresses Fogg out over time) on additional space or manage the items being carried is more often frustrating. Item management is fine, but 80 Days seems more inclined to bash it over people's heads a little too often. This, again, leads to a sense of failure more than it feels like getting better.

All complaints aside, 80 Days is an excellent example of many things. For one, video games can be art. More importantly, indie titles can't simply be pegged down by one classification or another. While the stereotypes are definitely well rooted, everything about this game suggests a genuine brilliance can be found in all of them. It's not just the art, as pixel art is beautiful, too - it's the extreme level of skill and craftsmanship that went into almost every decision, and every line of dialogue that flows out of this exceptional interactive fiction. This is, easily, one of the best examples to show to someone who has never played interactive fiction. For that, the folks at Inkle should be more than pleased.

Screenshot for 80 Days on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

It's amazing how much fun it can be to simply read. It's something society forgets can be extremely fun to indulge in, and 80 Days is a great excuse to do just that. Perhaps the pages have a few minor tears, but every inch of this fantastic game is worth experiencing. With so many story paths to explore, there is something here for anyone with even a passing interest in this kind of game. To put this more appropriately: Jon Ingold, Joseph Humfry and Meg Jayanth, please take a bow.

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   

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