“Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne is a classic piece of literature that has received one of Hollywood’s highest honors in 2004: A mediocre film adaptation starring Jackie Chan as Phileas Fogg’s manservant Passepartout. Hoping to stop Jules Verne from spinning in his grave just as Jackie Chan spun and flipped around during “Around the World in 80 Days,” Inkle Studios has just released their mobile video game adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic with the shortened title “80 Days.”
After their excellent interactive video game adaptations of Stever Jackson’s “Sorcery!” gamebooks with “Steve Jackson’s Sorcery!” volumes 1 and 2, Inkle considered the idea of turning the Jules Verne classic into a side scrolling beat-em-up with Jackie Chan providing the lead’s voice and motion capture. But they quickly realized what a dumb idea that would be so Inkle decided to keep to their comfort zone and adapt “Around the World in 80 Days” into their own gamebook. The result is an experience that’s part Choose Your Own Adventure; part “Oregon Trail” travel resource management; part e-book of “Around the World in 80 Days,” and all in all a sublime video game to immerse yourself in.
Following the plot of “Around the World in 80 Days” and just as it says on the tin, your task is to guide Phileas Fogg around the world in 80 days during the Victorian era. And it’s the Victorian era where amphibious trains and steam-powered mechanical elephants are viable modes of transportation. The artists that Inkle hired paint a picturesque alternate history setting where steam-power rules but it’s not being a punk about it.
Throughout your 80 in-game journey, you are in charge Fogg’s trip as you take on the role of Passepartout. With this choice in player protagonist, Inkle’s “80 Days” is a front-runner for my “Best Jackie Chan Simulator of 2014” award (deadline for entries is September 30). Ideally, you’ll be a more competent Passeparout than Jackie Chan as you manage Fogg’s money and inventory while keeping to the travel itinerary as best as you can. Throughout the journey, you will select a mode of transportation like a train or aforementioned mechanical elephant, decide on a course of action when events pop up, convince (read: bribe) locals to make things right when things go wrong, and come up with alternatives when you miss your connecting transport.
“80 Days” boasts a real-time multiplayer video game experience. It delivers by showing off the schedule other players are taking and their selected routes as you play. It’s easy to immerse yourself in a race against other players and see how they play their own game while you concentrate on yours.
With impressive visuals, a simple yet elegant game design, and a story to tell based on classic literature, Inkle’s video game “80 Days” is an excellent addition to your mobile game library. It can even liven up your personal travel whether by train, airplane, or mechanical elephant if they ever get the handling fixed on those things.
“80 Days” is available at the Apple App Store for $4.99 and hopefully will be out on other mobile devices soon.