Have You Played… 80 Days?

The crown Jules

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

80 Days [official site] is a great travel game. I don’t mean it’s a good game about a journey (although it is that). I mean it’s excellent to play while on a journey of your own. On a plane, ferry, train, rickety bus. Observant folks might point out the absurdity of absorbing yourself in a tiny screen and its navy facsimile of wanderlust while the real world and its sights pass you by. Well played, observant people. But sometimes you look out the porthole and it’s just 100% precipitation. What then? Read a book? Nah, go to Siberia on a steampunk blimp.

The goal of your character, on the face of it, is to guide and help your master cross the finish line of a trans-global time trial within 80 days of setting out from London. Obviously, anyone who sets out to achieve that and only that hasn’t understood or enjoyed the jaunt to its fullest. But it does a great job of teaching you this digressional sentiment, of baiting you into interesting alleys and mysterious harbours, goading you into making intriguing friends and rivals. It’s the best interactive fiction available, whether you’re stuck in the clouds or not.


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    subdog says:

    As someone who dearly loves the “period murder mystery on a mode of international transportation” micro-genre, I massively disappointed myself when the opportunity arose in 80 Days.

    • Canadave says:

      I’ve gone through that sequence a few times now, and every time the end plays out like I’m a drunk version of Hercule Poirot who also sustained a severe head injury as a child.

  2. latedave says:

    I loved this game so much, once you’d worked out it was worth the risky Antarctic move then there was no other strategy to ‘win’ but the colour and flavour of the text was superb. I also liked that there were some meaningless mechanics like how much Fogg approved of your character. So many different options as well, it’s also in the unusual category of being game I could recommend to anyone.

    • ThePuzzler says:

      By win do you mean ‘win in the absolute fewest possible number of days’? There are lots of ways to go round the world in 80 days.

      • joningold says:

        The Arctic route is not the fastest way around the world, either.

        • Mezzelune says:

          My best is 40 days, I like the idea that it could be possible to top that! As the game features some pretty crazy technology, I wonder if there’s a time machine out there that can get you back inside a day…

  3. Vacuity729 says:

    As an ESL teacher, this game is a godsend for working with high-level students. It’s absolutely wonderful having my students telling stories of adventures, trades, disasters, comedies, sharing commiserations, comparing experiences. Really, it’s the best resource I ever found for teaching high-level storytelling.
    I contacted Inkle directly for permission to use it in the classroom and they were very kind and friendly about it. Very cool people.
    According to Steam, I’ve played for 18 hours, though a chunk of that time has been spent writing notes. However, I’ve also spent hours listening to other people telling their own stories and adventures from this game. I’m nowhere near bored of it.

    • picniclightning says:

      I’m an English Lit and Composition teacher (who also has some ESL learners), and I would very interested to see your lesson plans and/or hear generally what assignments you used alongside 80 Days!

      • joningold says:

        …and if you were happy to share them, we’d be happy to host them on our site.

      • Vacuity729 says:

        Mostly it’s used alongside other materials, so it’s not generally used for compositions or presentations.
        For most students, the general setup is that each lesson you need to tell x-minutes worth of story and your listener(s) then have to ask questions for y minutes.
        Alongside that, you teach (or review) stuff like effective summary-building, reported speech (particularly using different reporting verbs beyond “said and “told”), ordering adverbs, some of the trickier conjunctions and other bits and pieces that advanced learners generally know the theory of backwards, but still struggle to put into practice when creating language. With a little guidance, and lots of practice, the progress made is really amazing.
        In anything other than a 1-on-1 or 2-on-1, I’ll also have the students practice telling the same story multiple times (once with each other student), which trains them to take effective notes in English, and helps with training things like delivery and intonation for the storytelling.

  4. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    I know this is one of those games you’re supposed to play over and over, but my first run was so perfect (had *barely* enough money to catch the airship from New York for the win, after being sure I wouldn’t make it) that I haven’t dared go back to it yet. Should do that one of these days.

    Also, as someone who fell in love with the original book when I was still too young to pick up on the, er, more problematic elements, the alternate steampunk universe nature of the game was really the best of all possible worlds.

  5. TychoCelchuuu says:

    This game is absolutely tremendous. After ~6 or 7 runs I think I have to start actively trying to visit some new places because I found myself repeating a few cities, presumably due to the fact that what seemed like a good route the first time through also seemed like a good route the third time through.

  6. cardigait says:

    Absolutely loved it, still remember my trip to the north pole and a flute theft that enrolled a revolution.

  7. Sin Vega says:

    Unquestionably one of my favourite games ever. Every playthrough has been memorable, and several have been profoundly moving.

  8. someoneelse84 says:

    A beautiful game amplified by my experiences on the road with an iPad. The writing was just impeccable.

  9. Grizzly says:

    I think I’ve played it a dozen times, and I’ve certainly not seen all there is to see. A grand game, lighter and easier to pick upon then their also quite excellent Sorcery! series.

    Hugely anticipating Heaven’s Vault.

  10. Shiloh says:

    Yep, played it, really enjoyed it.

  11. RuySan says:

    I got it in a mobile Humble Bundle, and liked it. But never felt the urge to return to it. I think i’ll install it again on my phone. Thanks for the reminder.

  12. Mezzelune says:

    I think this amazing game is the best possible companion for a long journey by train, it’s seen me through quite a few.

  13. GernauMorat says:

    Lovely, lovely words, and one of the few games I regularly play on my phone. Sublime.