We’re going to assume you’ve not lived under a rock your entire life and are at least vaguely familiar with the concept of Jules Verne’s literary masterpiece, Around the World in 80 Days. It’s inspired a number of real-life imitations, movies, musicals, and – in this case – an incredibly well-written adventure from developer Inkle that feels remarkably authentic.
80 Days takes the basic premise of Verne’s classic, including its main characters Phileas Fogg and Jean Passepartout, and gives it a ‘choose your own adventure’ twist. The game starts the same for everyone, with the two adventurers setting off to Paris from London via an underwater train. Once in Paris, you’re free to choose your next destination, albeit limited to the two or three locations in the closest proximity.
You can tackle 80 Days in a couple of different ways. The entirety of the globe is visible to you from the start, so if you wish, you can meticulously plan out your journey, taking into account your budget and possessions. Alternatively, and perhaps more attractively, you can wing it – you simply choose where to go next as you go along, and it's both exciting and frustrating (in a good way) trying to decide which destination you'd like to visit next.
There's a lot of writing in 80 Days. This might not be particularly surprising given its source material, but if this sort of thing puts you off, you won't get much out of the game. Otherwise, the writing is very accomplished throughout, with clever dialogue, historically accurate sights and sounds, and multiple choices to ponder over as you explore the various cities available to you. Book lovers will absolutely adore the experience from start to finish.
Aside from the standard choices presented in the game, you'll also need to manage various aspects such as luggage, budget, wellbeing and relationships. Your choice of transport will greatly affect the characters' moods and rapport with one another, so for example, if you choose a luxurious train, their mood will naturally increase – but choose to traverse rocky terrain in a stagecoach and they'll start to feel quite grumpy. Additionally, funds can be requested via banks, but the time it takes to receive this needs to be taken into account as you edge closer to that all-important 80-day deadline.
There are a surprising amount of variables to keep track of when you embark on your journey around the world, but ultimately this doesn't get in the way of the sheer joy of discovering a brand-new location and seeing what potential choices it might present to you. It's not going to be to everyone's tastes, but if you're a fan of Jules Verne, travelling, or culture, then you really need to check this out.