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80 Days review for Nintendo Switch


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Inkle
Developer: Inkle
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

In lesser hands, 80 Days could easily have been a disaster. After all, it’s the reimagining of one of the most famous books in Western literature, Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, as a video game. Not only that, it’s a steampunk reimagining of the novel, so you have all kind of fantastical flourishes thrown in for good measure. While it’s not quite on the same level as, say, a punk adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities or a hipper take on The Island of Doctor Moreau, it’s not that far off from such things, either.

Of course, 80 Days was already a huge success on mobile platforms, so you should have a pretty good idea of what’s in store for you here. And if you don’t: it’s a game that starts with the same premise as the novel, and that hits some of the same beats (i.e. suspicious robberies, mysterious jungle processions, long ocean voyages, etc), but that manages to put its own unique spin on the proceedings.

The game works much like the old Choose Your Own Adventure series did. You read the story from the perspective of Passepartout, valet/manservant to the novel’s main character, Phileas Fogg, and at frequent intervals, you get to decide what he chooses to do. While the bigger decisions of how to circumnavigate the globe shape the broad contours of the story, it gets its character from the smaller details — does Passepartout go for a walk on the docks, does he visit a local bar, or does he simply stay in? The great thing about the game is that you can never quite tell which direction the story will go from the short prompts you’re given, which leads to all kinds of unexpected circumstances.

Better still, 80 Days is never lacking for new decisions and new branches to explore. While you have to start in London with every new game, what happens next is entirely up to how you want the story to proceed. Even if occasionally you’ll stumble across the same story beats (i.e. try as I might, I always seemed to wind up on a fantastical version of the Trans-Siberian Railway), there are still enough choices to be made here that you’ll be able to play through several times without the game repeating itself too much.

Just about the only problem with 80 Days is its price: it’s $13, significantly more than the $7-8 you’d pay to get the game on your mobile device. While it’s a good enough game that I wouldn’t hesitate to pay the higher price tag, there’s nothing on the Switch version that would appear to justify the price increase.

As I said, though, it’s still probably worth the higher price. 80 Days is an inventive game with plenty of replayability, and it shows that even if an idea is well-known, there’s no reason why that doesn’t make it ripe for reinvention.

Inkle provided us with an 80 Days Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A