80 Days: “1872, with a steampunk twist. Phileas Fogg has wagered he can circumnavigate the world…”

I stayed up way too late last night playing 80 Days, a choice-based interactive fiction romp from Inkle .  I had read all the glowing reviews, but kept putting off the purchase until I really had time to enjoy it. I started my first play through at about midnight, and was up past 3am. (I made it around the world with one day to spare, though in order to make time near the end I had to make some choices that worked against the personality I had created for player-character, Passepartout. This was frustrating — in a good way — because it meant I had invested in the character, and it means that simply getting around the world in time wasn’t enough — I will have to go back and play the game again, trying different geographical routes around the world, and different strategies for solving problems.

By itself, the first play through was well worth the modest price. My first time through, I played to win. I plan to go back and play again for the story. I have never really seen the interest in those games where you raise a pet or tend to plants, but I found a strange pleasure when, in my role as valet, I clicked on the comb icon and my stuffy English gentlemen thanked me for tending to his mustache or giving him a new starched collar.

80 Days (text)80 Days (Map)

I am a bit conflicted about the steampunk setting, which, my first time through, I chose to downplay, but which I will certainly explore. One of my favorite parts is the chance to interact with characters who happen to be on long legs of the journey. Choice-based encounters with a feuding father-daugher pair and a little girl drawing on a steamship have stayed with me. I did pretty well in a completely text-based boxing match, which reminds me of the very best choice-based battle sequences in Choice of Broadsides.