80 Days is a PC port of a text-heavy steampunk adventure game loosely based on the Jules Verne novel, previously released on iOS and Android. Frankly, that sounds pretty bad. But I’m here to convince you, sincerely, that it’s one of the best adventure games I’ve ever played. Here goes.
You are Passepartout, helping your master Fogg on his wager to get around the world in eighty days. You trade possessions, plan onward journeys and generally help your master navigate the world in typical adventure game fashion. As adventure game ‘gameplay’ goes, it’s pretty compelling, and the interface employed is fairly elegant and eye-catching. But games like this live or die on their writing, and scriptwriter Meg Jayanth’s work here is exceptional.
This is where ‘steampunk’ comes in. This is an alternate history; everywhere you go you encounter miraculous anachronous technologies. What’s really impressive is not only that this isn’t jarring, but that Jayanth uses this shift to give voice and character to the regions you pass through. Instead of a homogenous empire you encounter all the cultures, climates, traditions and resistances of the colonial world dramatized with vivid intensity. It’s this that elevates 80 Days from the twee, insubstantial game it could have been, into the exemplary adventure game it is.