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’80 days’ review: not only have inkle studios managed to create my dream game but it is also accessible enough that even someone as ill as me can (slowly, gradually) play it

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One time when my brothers and I were huddled around the Playstation playing Final Fantasy VII in the late 90s, I remember saying something to the effect of “I wish there was a game like this but without the boring battles.” I just wanted an interactive story where the options you choose and your responses during interactions with other characters all continually determine and redefine how the rest of the story unfolds. I think the creators of the 80 days game app must have been listening because they have succeeded in making the game that I always dreamed of playing. No, they have made a game that is better than my dream game.

I cannot extol the virtues of ’80 days’ enough. The basic premise is to get around the world in 80 days, although as you’ll find out, sometimes the most exciting adventures you have will be the times where you just go exploring and happen to meet a character who sends you off on a mission (you can choose not to follow up on what the character tells you though, if you really just want to get around the world in time) or you get abducted by sky pirates or escort a spy to Russia or crash land in the sea or go chasing sea monsters off the southern coast of Africa or help a prisoner escape or are held captive by a cult in the jungle or kidnapped by a nun or thrown in prison or solve a murder or create a mutiny or rescue a stowaway princess or be experimented on by a mad scientist in the middle of a desert or be forced to join the circus after an unfortunate incident with opium etc. You get the idea.

You play as the character Passepartout, valet to Phileas Fogg. You’re in charge of the suitcases, money, Fogg’s health and making travel arrangements. The game is set in an alternative 1872 (people say it’s sort of ‘steampunk’ ish) and there are really ingenious and fun modes of transport that you can choose between to get you from place to place: mechanical elephants, phaetons, camels, submersibles, hot air balloons, hover -cars and -crafts, giant mechanical birds…as well as the more traditional trains, boats and airships. The mode of transport available depends on what part of the world you’re in at the time. The passengers you meet on these journeys are often the most interesting encounters and, depending on what you choose to say to them, result in all sorts of increased options in the future. For example, if you meet a journalist on the Orient Express and help him with his luggage and if you then end up in Cairo later on in the game, you will bump into him in the souk and he will ask you to do a task for him. The game is full of these sorts of instances, where something you do earlier on in the game, will directly affect what happens further along. And those options won’t be available if you didn’t meet so-and-so or have a particular conversation earlier on. But the game doesn’t punish you – even if you didn’t have those experiences, there are always plenty more to be had. It’s exciting whichever options you choose. Your experiences will change each new time you play the game.

You start the game in London with £4000, which will gradually go down as you pay for transport and hotels. But fear not; in most cities you can buy items in the markets that you can then sell for a hefty profit in another city (if you hold down on an item, it will tell you which cities it will be valuable in and will sometimes even given you an exact figure). There are also banks that you can visit to withdraw money from Fogg’s account but you have to wait a couple of days for the money to be wired to you, which may be time that you can’t afford because the clock is always ticking and it might make all the difference whether you can get back to London in 80 days.

So you will be shuffling around various items in your suitcases as well as trying to collect various sets of wardrobe choices from markets. A completed set will help you out depending on which part of the world you are in. For example, the Desert Traveller set will help Fogg’s health in desert conditions and will help bribe desert transport to leave earlier than scheduled. There are also Jungle Traveller, Air Traveller, Seafarer, Englishman’s Wardrobe, American Wardrobe, Russian Gentleman’s Wardrobe, The Gentleman Traveller, Engineer and Railway Man sets which will all help you out, depending on which part of the world you’re in and how you decide to travel there.

Reading the above, my description of the game seems very inadequate. It doesn’t even mention all the different political situations you run into whilst travelling or the stories surrounding the automata and the Artificers Guild (Artificers are inventors/engineers/mechanics/scientists who are responsible for the technological boom in the alternate world of the game, and they have outposts throughout the world). I also haven’t mentioned how the decisions you make change what sort of personality your character Passepartout has and change your relationships you have with other characters. There are so many different characters to meet and countless cities to visit. I can’t recommend this game enough.

It’s worth noting that I haven’t played a video game since before I became ill (because I’m too ill). The only reason that I can play this one is because it doesn’t require you to type anything or hold the iPhone. All I have to do is tap the screen with my thumb every so often and can go in and out of the game as I please. So I can just spend 5 minutes playing on one day and then do that again on a day when I’m next able to tap the screen. It may be slow going but at least I get to play. So it’s a very accessible game if you have similar muscle problems and heart problems to mine.

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[NB I’m only able to sometimes jab out one or two sentences per day with my thumb on the screen of this iPhone, so this review was written over a long period of time. Please forgive any mistakes or if some parts seem a bit disjointed.]

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About me:

All the things that you never wanted to know about my life with an acute chronic illness: http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2016/05/all-the-things-that-you-never-wanted-to-know-about-my-life-with-an-acute-chronic-illness/

My reading history: http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2015/08/what-role-have-books-played-in-my-life/

My most recent poems: http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2014/10/ten-years/

Severe M.E. and me – my story: http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/severe-me-and-me-my-story/

My favourite fictional female characters: http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2016/07/my-favourite-fictional-female-characters/

Words that help me: http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2016/06/words-that-help-me/

My greatest wishes on my 29th birthday (+ health update): http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2015/04/my-greatest-wishes-on-my-29th-birthday/

My Favourite Things: http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2013/11/my-favourite-things/

When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your 8 years:
http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2012/12/8-years/

My buzzfeed listicles: http://www.buzzfeed.com/stroopwaffle

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