Published Jul 24, 201480 Days is not actually named after the 1980s, though the iOS game is something of an homage to that decade's beloved Choose Your Own Adventure books and text adventure computer games. Rather, Cambridge-based Inkle Studio's follow-up to Sorcery! is based on Jules Verne's 1873 novel Around the World in 80 Days.
Players fill the well-travelled shoes of Jean Passepartout, valet to the book's Richie-rich protagonist Phileas Fogg, as he tries to win a tremendously large bet by circumnavigating the globe in the titular time period via train, ship, car, airship, hover car, gyrocopter, hot-air balloon and more.
Strategy and resource management are key here as you flit between the 150 "bespoke" cities with the clock always ticking and your bank account always shrinking. Spending a week in the Philippines may seem like a fun holiday, but seven days is a good percentage of your total time and dramatically increases your chances of catching cholera. On the other hand, you might be able to purchase something in the market for a steal that you could sell somewhere else for a song.
As you may have surmised given the source material, there's lots of reading here, though the background Art Deco-influenced illustrations are also incredibly stylish, and you nudge the narrative in branching directions by picking between potential paragraph-ending sentences.
While the roots of the original story are deeply planted, this version adds a simmering dispute between the peasantry and the automata taking their jobs — and on a broader scale, between the various governments and the Artifacer's Guild — that influences your globetrotting travels.
Much as 80 Days is a cutting-edge take on old-timey game design, Inkle's interactive tale follows a similar route with a steam-punk-inspired alternative history Victorian era that nonetheless remains true to Verne's other sci-fi stories by including such retro-futuristic technology as mechanical elephants and robot gondoliers.
The gameplay is clever and fun, but ultimately writer Meg Jayanth's flexible storytelling is the real discovery, both in terms of your narrative choices and its own. (Inkle Studios)