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Jeremy Jastrzab
06 Apr, 2006

80 Days Review

PC Review | Not quite the adventure of a lifetime.
Adventure games are becoming a dying breed in the gaming world. Perhaps it's because their clunky and slow-paced attributes are being replaced by the high-speed and fluidity that is currently in demand. It’s sad, especially when you see excellent games like Fahrenheit essentially rejuvenate the genre only to fail because people prefer to buy the next version of Madden. With every new addition to the genre, comes the chance of rejuvenation. So does this latest adventure by the name of 80 Days get you around the world or do you get lost at along the way?

80 Days is very loosely based off the famous Jules Verne novel and the 1956 movie entitled Around the World in Eighty Days. It takes place some time after the journey of Phileas Fogg and you play as Oliver Lavisheart in the year 1899. Oliver accepts his uncles request of going around the world to collect four inventions patents that we’re stolen from him. He needs these back, otherwise his uncle will lose a bet and his entire life’s reputation and he needs them in 80 days. Hence, Oliver (who has issues he needs to get away from as well) gets a chance to get out and see the world.

It takes a day just to get up those stairs

It takes a day just to get up those stairs
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Well, you don’t get to see that much of the world as it’s centralised around four of the key locations that were also visited by Phileas Fogg. These being Cairo, Bombay (now known as Mumbai), Yokohama and San Francisco. Your key objective is to search out the city and find acquaintances of your uncle that will help you find the missing patent. Of course, you’re going to get sidetracked by numerous requests and tasks that take you off the main path. These requests include attempting to spread the word of kilt-wearing or becoming a Bollywood actor.

One thing to be noted about the game is that it pretty much throws out the entire literary and dramatic prowess of the original novel and movie in place for it’s own sense of humour and innuendo. There are a lot of references to the events of the book but for the most part it’s a story on its own. Things pan out fairly linearly, without any particular major developments in the story, other than the odd occasion where you’ll be asked to do something really strange. The humour and innuendo is a real hit-and-miss affair, with an apparent concentration on the later. It’s just too wrapped up in trying to refer it to things from today and often tries a little too hard; it’s bearable, but only just.

A big part of a lot of adventure games meeting new people. The only remotely interesting ones are people that you meet as part of your adventure. While not always funny (or interesting really), they’ll at least give you a reason to keep playing. However, this game probably has the most obnoxious set of NPC’s that you’re ever likely to come across. Virtually everyone you meet will turn their nose up at you and tell you things like, “I won’t tell you anything” or “I’m not going to help you” in some of the most obnoxious tones you’ll ever hear. It detracts a lot from the game, because you’ll really have no incentive to talk to them.

In terms of gameplay, 80 Days does a few things different. Some of them come off and others don’t. Your interface and display are rather different, as you really are playing through 80 days. No, it won’t take eighty days to complete the game but the game does have a dynamic day-to-night system that can be found in most open-ended adventures. However, it’s represented by a rather intricate clock in the top-right of the screen. You’ve also got little thing like a day indicator (out of 80) and a timeline that compares you to your position to that of Phileas Fogg at the same point in time. Your actions are primarly based on movement, context sensitivity and accessing the right item from your inventory.

The game attempts also to simplify things by presenting the player with rather simple sets of tasks. Find this person, these items, etc. The only twist is that sometimes you’ll often need a specific item to help with these tasks. This would have been all good and well had it not been for the fact that these are made extremely obscure by the game. It’s frustrating because you know it’s simple and the puzzles are simple enough to solve but you’re often hampered by a lack of one particular item. The game will let you go for hours on end and won't help much in these situations. You have a mini-map pointing to the direction of your objectives and people but not all of the things pointed are gettable or relevant at any one time.

Huh?!?

Huh?!?
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Even though it may take a while to get around some of these intricacies, the underlying game is not that hard. The tasks are pretty easy, even when you take into account the exploring that needs to be done. Part of this is because most will require you to point and click at an object that’s highlighted in green. This will either allow you to pick up the object or push it or maneuver it, as it seems necessary.

One big difference with 80 Days is that it doesn’t employ fixed camera angles. Instead, you walk around with W, S, A, D and use the mouse to change directions. You’ve also got a jump button (space bar) and a sprint button (shift). These are needed because some of your tasks will require you to be quite nimble with the need to climb up and jump around. That and the areas you traverse are quite vast. However, the clunkiness of the controls almost offsets their usefulness.

The walk speed is so excruciatingly slow, that you’ll almost always sprint. The jump tries to be a little too realistic and is often difficult to control or get right. Put these together with a totally unnecessary “tiredness” gauge and you have a game that is rather cumbersome to control. That is, getting from point A to B is sometimes a pain in the rear end. The tiredness basically dictates that you need to sleep and eat in order to recharge your energy, otherwise all your jumping and sprinting will tire you and if you don’t find a hotel to sleep in, you’ll lose twelve virtual hours. So not only does it suck to just walk around, you lose time through it as well.

There a few other things that have been put into the game that somewhat set it apart. You have a very odd assortment of vehicles, from elephants and camels to magic carpets and contraptions not seen outside of science fiction. They would help would it not have been for the floaty, unresponsive controls that most of them have and there are a few too many restricted areas. The game does try however, to liven things up by a few stealth and action sequences as well as the occasional necessity for a bribe but they’re few and far in between and are wholly overshadowed by the uncomfortable controls.

At least the version that we played was a stable one. There were a few bugs and hitch-ups as we played and it took a very long time to load to get into the actual game. At least there was nothing major apart from the occasional time where the game would stop for a handful of seconds but continue there after. In all, the entire adventure will last somewhere between 10 and 15 hours, depending on well you adapt to the game’s nuances.

That thing on his head epitomises the whole game

That thing on his head epitomises the whole game
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Graphically, the game is solid without being spectacular. It does some good things with the texture and environmental work to create some nice looking locales. However, the models in the game are very repetitive and could’ve used a little more work in terms of detail and animations. Not to mention that the game has a big issue with pop-ups, as sometimes people will appear out of thin air. At least the game has managed to create it’s own sense of style by mixing what you’d expect from the late nineteenth century and a lot of colour and flair. On a whole, it doesn’t always hold up technically but it gets the job done. Sound-wise, the game missed a lot of it’s potential. There are a lot of voiced characters but most of them are obnoxious or just plain stupid, regardless of how interesting are the things they say. It almost feels offensive at times. There is little by way of music in the game and the sound effects feel irrelevant.

Overall, 80 Days has a few decent ideas but it’s hampered by poor execution and some gaping design flaws. That’s not to say it isn’t serviceable, but the experience is something of a mix of ease and frustration at missing the obvious. The most unfortunate part is that it forgoes a lot of the material that made this adventure so appealing and instead tries too hard to incorporate its own brand of humour. That, and it isn’t going to convince anyone why adventure games shouldn’t be going down the gurgler.
The Score
80 Days is a serviceable adventure game that does a few things new but is unlikely to tide anyone over or bring back renown to the adventure genre.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 Comments
8 years ago
Similarities...?



8 years ago
^ lol, but you know southpark rip that off somone else.
8 years ago
Nice one Qbert... ahahaha
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Publisher:
  QV Software
Developer:
  Frogwares
Players:
  1

Extra:
System: 1 GHz or equivalent

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