The Prof and Brian are back from an isolation experiment to review 80 Days, where steam (punk) trains and camels are both viable transport choices.
“Hello, my name is Professor Kelvin Harris, the resident scientist for CodecMoments.com; with the help of my trusty lab assistant Brian…”
“I’m on a mission to highlight interesting and unusual mobile games, which you can purchase for less than the cost of your daily dose of caffè latte. Why? I hear you ask.”
“HOW? I mean why?”
“Well the same people who think nothing of spending £3 or more on their milky beverage, often baulk at the idea of spending that on a mobile game and they’re missing out on some corkers! Here you go stat fans, every day in the United Kingdom we spend around £2.5 million on coffee, which is approximately the modern value of Phileas Fogg’s £20,000 wager in 1872 that he could circumnavigate the globe in 80 days.”
“That’s a coincidence Professor, there’s a game that came out recently on iOS called 80 Days about Willy Fogg and that.”
“It’s not a coincidence Brian, it’s just a well-crafted segue. This week’s Cost of a Coffee game is the Brilliant 80 Days, from Inkle. Based on the adventure that stems from that bet, 80 Days doesn’t just retell the story, it reimagines it a bit like the cartoon adaptation ‘Around the World with Willy Fog’ did in the 1980s.”
“I don’t agree with the changes Professor, they’ve gone too far.”
“You mean setting the game in an alternate, somewhat dystopian steampunk version of 1872, where technology breeds both hope and distrust amongst the war weary Europeans?”
“No, I mean they’ve renamed Willy Fog after that bloke from the crisps. And nobody is a lion, or a cat, or a mouse, or a dog.”
“To be quite fair to Inkle Brian, the bloke from the crisps was named after the character Phileas Fogg from the original Jules Verne novel. The characters are no longer anthropomorphic animals and they retain their original names from the book; so your beloved Willy has been removed and I’m afraid that Rigadon is back to plain old Passepartout and isn’t voiced by Cam Clarke. 80 Days is described a massively branching multiplayer fiction from the people who brought us Sorcery! As I’ve said, it puts a steampunk spin on Fogg’s formidable fable and you will use cars, trains, boats, airships and even camels amongst many other modes of transport to circumnavigate the globe against the clock and against other players in real-time.
You take the role of Passepartout, Fogg’s loyal valet, who is informed of the bet and given very little time to throw a few items into a suitcase before they depart London for Paris; from there the path you travel is entirely up to you and routes can be unlocked by exploring cities, buying maps and timetables at markets and by conversing with fellow passengers when en route. The story plays out not only through the routes you choose, but also through these interactions as you choose your responses to peoples’ conversation and actions; choose wisely and your journey may be assisted in some way, chose foolishly and you could find yourself wasting precious time. Each journey has a specific cost, departure time and baggage allowance and you can usually squeeze more suitcases in if you’re willing to pay for the privilege; likewise departure times can often be negotiated in a most ungentlemanly fashion, helping you wend your way around the world that little bit faster.
“That sounds expensive Professor; it cost a bomb for me to go to Bognor Regis last summer. let alone if I’d had to go via Buenos Aires.”
“Well quite Brian, cash is king as you Teessiders’ say.”
“I’m not sure I am from Teesside Professor, my accent gets a little harder to place each week if I’m honest.”
“To get your hands on some wonga in 80 Days you can either visit the bank when you arrive in a city, or do some trading at the local market. The bank can only get you small denominations quickly, so if you’re suddenly stuck in a port town needing thousands for a ticket to carry you across the ocean, you could be clock watching as the days pass you by waiting for funds to clear. Markets are a good bet as many items can fetch high prices in certain places; buying wisely and tailoring your route to your trades can mean that funds are never a problem, but this takes time and luck.”
“So is 80 Days worth the Cost of a Coffee Professor?”
“At £2.99 it’s at the higher end of the price bracket for mobile games, wading in at the same cost as a large speciality latte, but it’s worth every penny. The story doesn’t tell the Jules Verne tale verbatim, you choose your route and it weaves aspects of the story around that in a world that is well imagined and eloquently described. It’s basically a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book for the mobile generation…”
“I LOVE Choose Your Own Adventure” books Professor.”
“Well with that comes replayability beyond all imagination; even when I’ve ended up making the same journey on subsequent playthroughs, how I got there and how I went forward would change based on the interactions and conversations I would have during my great voyage.”
“The only problem is that you can’t keep your finger in the page and change your mind about your choices.”
“Cost of a Coffee is a production of Codec Moments. For more information visit CodecMoments.com or search for Codec Moments on Facebook and Google+. If you can recommend a game that costs less than a cappuccino, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. See you next time.”
A copy of 80 Days was provided to Codec Moments by Emily Morganti PR on behalf of Inkle for the purposes of this review.