Friday, 27 February 2015

80 Days

Gyrocopter 1
I get the train to work every day so I’ve really come to appreciate mobile games. Today I want to tell you about one of my recent favourites - 80 Days.
80 days is a mobile game for Android and iOS devices developed by inkle - it’s based on the Jules Verne novel 80 Days Around The World and is a kind of interactive choose your own adventure game.
OK, if that doesn't turn you on, don't let it turn you off either. The game is beautifully presented, incredibly entertaining and I've spent many enjoyable hours exploring the fantastical 19th century steampunk world in which it is set.
This opinionated blog may contain spoilers, consider yourself warned.
Asante Airship 2
The opening of the game introduces the main characters you will be spending your time with. The player cast in the role of the mysterious ‘Passporteau’, a French valet to one Monsieur Phileas Fogg.
Monsieur Fogg is an English Gentleman of discerning taste and has an interesting, albeit rather prudish, character to him.
The objective, as you may have guessed, is to travel around the world within 80 days. It's not easy and you will likely have to play the game multiple times to achieve this. Along with the exploration of the globe the replay factor is all part of the fun.
The story is told from Passporteau's point of view as though he is writing in his journal. You experience the adventure as he writes it.
Choosing your reactions to events and conversations with other characters is a large part of the game.
Ultimately, it is you who chooses where to go and what you do when you get there. However, the obligation to look after Monsieur Fogg and represent his best interests is a constant pressure that you must deal with.
This level of responsibility is, for me, unique to this kind of game and it’s been done really well. I find myself wanting to keep Fogg in good health so the journey can continue. After all you are the Gentleman's valet so perhaps you should act like it, no?
Market
80 Days is, in many ways, the evolution of the choose your own adventure games I used to enjoy when I was a child. This may be why I enjoy it so much now.
It takes a variable narrative and wraps it in choice and that apparently tickles my fancy.
When you are in a city you have a few options; you can go to the market, go to the bank, stay overnight or depart to a new city. Sometimes you have the option to explore if there are no known routes from your location.
The market is where you can buy and sell items. Items can be used to make large amounts of money or help you ease the burdens of a particularly bad journey. For example, the Pocket Altimeter gives you a bonus on Airships.
The fancy rug will fetch you £8500 in Pyongyang, I must get to Pyongyang!
Benares 1
Money is a precious commodity in the game. Early on in your first playthrough you might think that you have lot of it in reserve. What you don’t expect is that it can actually run out quite quickly.
In that case a trip to the bank will be in order.
The bank gives you money if you wait for an amount of days (they have to clear it with London first).
The more money you want the longer you will have to wait. For example, £700 tomorrow, £1500 in two days or £3000 in three days.
This is essentially allowing you to trade time for money which I find interesting because both are something you always seem to need more of and can quickly run out of. Money being more immediate than time.
Staying overnight will often mean staying in a hotel and either preening Monsieur Fogg, taking some minor work (washing dishes, shining shoes) or exploring the city a little.
If Fogg is low on health, spending the evening with him will increase this health substantially.
Taking a job allows you to make some money. Finally, exploring the city allows you to find new routes or have an interesting encounter.
Though if have run out of money and can't afford a hotel you'll have to sleep rough for a few nights and it's not a nice thing to have to do.
World Map
Planning a journey and then leaving the city involves looking at the globe. You are shown the routes that you can take from the current city to the other cities that are connected.
Selecting a route (by tapping on a location) gives you information about the journey.
Information such as the departure time, how long it will take, they type of transport, the name of the vessel you will be travelling on, how many suitcases you are allowed to take with you, how much damage Fogg will take and how much of a bonus your items provide should you have any (items negate some or all of the travel damage that Fogg would otherwise take).
I find it interesting to be able to select where to go next and deciding whether it is better to take a fast route that costs more money or a slow route that costs less.
I find it rather funny that towards the beginning of the game time seems to be limitless so being frugal is the best option. When you reach the America’s, however, you may gladly fork out up to £3500 just to save a bit of time in the deluded hope that you can make the 80 days time limit.
As eluded to above, time plays an important role in the game. Time is something to be cautious of, even on a daily basis, as you can end up missing the mode of transport you wanted to take.
There have been a few times where I have missed out on the route I wanted to take and it wasn’t scheduled again for another 3 days! Sadly, this meant taking a longer route.
Be wary of the number of days you take in a city. The first trip I played I remember thinking how much time I had left and I was already half way around the world. How foolish I felt when the engine of the steamboat I was on exploded.
How foolish indeed.
Especially since when you fail to meet the 80 days the game doesn’t end.
No, that would be too easy. You have to make it back to London with a disheartened Fogg in tow.
Engine-oil
Without any question the best part of the game is the events and encounters you will come across. Each city has it’s own unique style, which gives you a better sense of the world, and the people you will meet can be incredibly fascinating. The whole reason for talking to people, or doing anything other than travelling from point A to point B is to learn new routes, which is very useful for shaving time off your journey.
I love that the game is subtly inclusive in a lot of it’s aspects, especially when it comes to romance options.
The first time I played the game I had a romantic encounter with a man in New Orleans which took me completely by surprise.
The second encounter was on my third playthrough, on a trip to the North Pole, he was the mechanic for the vessel we were travelling on. This time I took the lead and made a few not so subtle advances.
I'm not really sure what else to say about this other than it's really good for this to be included in the game.
Also, it doesn't get too graphic and usually end with a line such as "a Gentleman doesn't disclose such details" so it is up to your own imagination.
Its not all about romance there have often been times that I have burst into laughter on a train. Usually to one of Fogg's timely reactions. It can be quite sad too as it's possible for Fogg to die and the game to end. This happened to me recently but I'll leave it for you to discover.
Beijing
In short I love the game. The entire world is teeming with things to discover every time you play through.
There are many different, fantastical, modes of transport to take you across the globe at varying speeds.
The narrative is often astounding and you will definitely come away with at least one story to share.
The game costs £3.00 on Android and £3.99 on iOS - in my opinion it's worth every penny.
It should be because I paid for it and have written a blog post about it!

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