GAMES COVERAGE, UNDERSTANDABLY, often focuses on a handful of big releases every year. These releases tend to be big, content-rich experiences, often in open world, produced by teams of hundreds of developers backed by a large publisher. These games, often referred to as “Triple-A” releases often get most of the press and critical attention, and understandably so; they are often graphically impressive and represent a massive investment in terms of time, money and talent. Smaller games, produced by smaller studios, “indie” games, often get less attention, but every year a handful get significantly more after receiving critical praise. But many indie games miss out on this attention, and that’s understandable, too; after all, critics only have so much time, and hundreds of games are released over the course of a year, most of them indie titles, so it can be hard to give all of these the attention they deserve.
Mobile games especially often get overlooked, especially by those elements of the gaming press or YouTube communities who cater to those perceived as “core” gamers. I have never been a fan of the concept of core gamers. I believe anyone can love any game, and the pigeon-holing of some games as for the “core” audience and others as not ultimately means some people won’t get exposed to something they may love. Not to mention the fact that “core” gamers no longer represent the majority of those who play games, with most people playing mostly “casual” titles and one or two “core” titles.
However sometimes mobile games do get some attention. Time Magazine named 80 Days their Game of the Year last year, something I didn’t realize until after starting the game, as I had never heard of the game before in any of the gaming presses or from any YouTubers. Time seems to have a good habit of picking good games, without overlooking mobile titles, something I hope to emulate by giving 80 Days some much deserved attention.
80 Days is a charming romp through a fictional steampunk world, following Phileas Fogg on his journey around the world in 80 days. This takes the form of a game of strategic planning and time management, with a number of decisions to make which will dramatically impact your progress, from what to pack in your suitcase to how to manage your funds, and even whether you make any romantic acquaintances along the way.
Most of the action comes in the form of text and conversation options. These are wonderfully written, with a new surprise or intriguing plot behind every city. You would be forgiven for thinking that a text-based game would be slow-paced, but 80 Days really isn’t. The clock is always ticking, and there is really very little downtime between tough decisions and interesting occurrences. The aforementioned ever-present clock also helps keep things tense, never for a moment letting you forget that you are in a race against time. Additionally, from time to time you will see other players on the map, so your race is not just against time, but also against them. Every time you see a person making faster progress than you, it prompts you to wonder what you did inefficiently, or how you can make up that lost time.
It’s also great value for money, for £4 on iTunes and £7 on Steam, each playthrough takes around 3 hours, with the game having plenty of scope through multiple playthroughs, as not only will your route be different, but story options and other choices will be different each time you play.
Definitely give 80 Days a try; it’s a delightful palate cleanser from action heavy Triple-A titles, and deeply entertaining in its own right.