80 Days



Genre:   Adventure

Developer:    Frogwares Game Development Studios

Publisher:    dtp and TriSynergy

Released:  October & December 2005

PC Requirements:   see review




Additional Screenshots




by gremlin


What is it?

80 Days…? 80 days of what? 80 days of rain? 80 days of mystery? 80 days of chocolate? No, it's 80 days of running around international cities, fetching and carrying, promoting the wearing of the Scottish kilt and tracing Uncle Lavisheart’s patent claims! 

Here we are again, reviewing a game based upon a Jules Verne story. I don't know whether it's just coincidence, but it seems to me that it's a real fad just now for people to make Verne's stories into games. Still, they're works of great fiction (OK, my opinion only, but this is my review, so it's my opinion that counts) and they make for interesting games, even if they have to be twisted away from the original plot to meet modern publishers' expectations.

Frogware’s 80 Days is, at heart, an adventure game about an attempt to duplicate the famous (some would say infamous) journey of one Phileas Fogg around the globe in 80 days. However, the reality is much more complex.

Is there a plot?

I feel that, in the past, most people would have written a game that attempted to duplicate much more faithfully the original story. For a start, they would have included the original protagonists, Fogg and Passepartout in particular. Not to mention the other major plot elements such as the bank robbery that inspires the detective Fix to chase Fogg throughout the story, the rescue of Mrs Aouda, the arrest, trial and imprisonment of Passepartout, the attack of the Indians upon the transcontinental train, and the hot air balloon race to London at the end.

The current fashion for ‘translating’ or ‘retelling’ Verne’s stories has hit this plot outline hard, however. So, instead of Fogg and Passepartout, we have Oliver, the nephew of Matthew Lavisheart, who must traverse the globe in the requisite 80 days, retrieving evidence of Lavisheart’s four greatest inventions.

So much for the easy bit, now for the twist; a number of the other characters have made it into the modern story. Though I’m not going to reveal their roles any further, a new Fix, Aouda, and the Indians are still there, furthermore Fogg, Passepartout and Detective Fix are mentioned, and of course, there are many more characters who don’t come from the original story. There’s more; in a particularly weird choice of plot elements, Frogwares have asked Oliver to perform that seemingly impossible task of persuading the men of the world that the Scottish kilt is the next big fashion statement. Now, I’ve nothing at all against the kilt – I own and wear my own at least two or three times a year – but putting this mission into the confines of an adventure seems to me to be skirting (sic!) rather close to the borders of insanity.

All this aside, however, the plot of 80 Days is full-some to say the least. There are twists and turns all over the world, and the result is a plot that keeps going and going without getting stale. I like Frogware’s version of this story.

How do you play?

Let me be clear right away; this game is about time, it is the raison d’être of the game, therefore the whole game is one gigantic timed sequence. If you don’t like timed sequences, don’t bother with anything more than Tourist mode. Mind you, even Tourist mode keeps up the comparison between your progress and that of Fogg’s in the original story.

Now, we have an odd, twisted plot from minds that are clearly twisted too, so what does this mean for the gameplay of this game? More oddities, that’s what. Once you’ve decided upon the level of difficulty from Tourist (easy), through Globe-Trotter, to Adventurer (difficult), and waited for the loooong level loading screen to pass (I’ll come back to this later), we begin with the inevitable exposition of the plot – Oliver is set his mission: to save the old man’s credibility, house and fortune by retrieving the patents for his four greatest inventions. Nothing out of the ordinary there then.

I chose to play on ‘Adventurer’ level, to get a full-blooded flavour of the pressures of completing the game to the timetable and within the budget. Unlike almost every computer software project I’ve ever seen. ;-)

Now we’re into the game proper, we have a fully 3D environment, in the third person view (over the shoulder of our hero, Oliver) where the movements of Oliver are controlled from the keyboard (ASDW by default) with ‘inventory’, ‘timeline’, ‘run’, ‘crouch’, ‘jump’ and ‘action’ buttons in a reasonably easy layout (of course, you can change these in the Options panel), and the camera position is controlled from the mouse. Left click is also the ‘action’ button, and right click the ‘inventory’ button, with the scroll wheel (if you have one) doing double duty as a simple zoom on the camera, or next/previous inventory item control when the inventory is visible.

Unlike the Verne-ian games by Kheops Studios (‘Return to Mysterious Island’ and ‘Voyage’), where the game is very static, though nicely animated, 80 Days is much more dynamic. For example, your inventory can be accessed and scrolled at almost any time with the mouse, whilst Oliver is running around a location, whilst the camera is moving and plenty of other characters and objects are moving in the environment too.

Now, some people will prefer the first person, pure point-and-click-ness of the former games, but I am finding that, as I get older, I am enjoying these faster-paced hybrid action adventures more and more. To get a little more personal, I have recently damaged my right shoulder through bad-posture at the computer and over-use/mis-use of the mouse (it’s OK, no need for sympathy; it’s entirely self-induced), and so I’ve switched hands – left hand mousing, right hand on the keys. Despite this, I found I could still play 80 Days by simple control changes in the Options menu.

I was most surprised that this game is so linear. The plot goes from one mini-task to the next one; you’ve rarely got more than one or two objectives at any given moment. And yet this doesn’t result in a forced plot, because you’re always busy looking for the next objective. Perhaps this was connected with playing to a tight time constraint on the Adventurer difficulty level.

Notable Features

I really like the environments in 80 Days. The colours and textures are vivid and detailed; there are little jokes hidden in various pictures and billboards around the cities.  All the cities are large and complex, and what’s more, you don’t explore every nook and cranny of each location. This leads to a very good sense of a larger world context. This is also true of the mega-vehicles that Oliver employs to travel between cities. There’s a gargantuan steam train, an enormous airship (or rather, several airships) and an extensive luxury cruise ship.

Not only are there the mega-vehicles, but there are also vehicles for getting around the cities. There are some that are common to all locations; the monocycle seen on the 80 Days logo, a flying carpet (with patterns appropriate to the specific cities), and a steam tricycle that I found quite tricky to drive. The monocycle is a real vehicle, by the way - Google it if you’re in doubt! Then there are the city-specific vehicles; a camel for Cairo, an elephant in Bombay, and a racing car for San Francisco. I must admit I used the racing car in San Francisco, but the monocycle is my personal favourite overall.

80 Days has one of the nicest user interfaces I’ve seen in a long time. Elegant clockwork-themed controls overlay the screen in a discreet manner that manages never to get in the way of the main screen. There’s a very useful mini-map that guides you from objective to objective. If there’s no objective showing, it’s usually because you haven’t fully completed a character interaction at the end of the previous objective.

As we’re racing around the world, we have a clock in the interface. The rate of progress of this multi-function timepiece is determined by your choice of the level of difficulty. The harder the level, the faster the clock moves. Since we have a clock to tell us what time it is, we also get puzzles that require your attendance at a particular time of day – clothes shops in San Francisco are only open (apparently) from 9AM to 5PM, whilst the harem in Cairo is left unguarded during the hours of darkness! Not only that, but we have weather effects (sun and rain mostly) and the visible passage of night and day. Not entirely novel, but nicely done!

The Adventurer level places you under considerable time pressures, and this means that Oliver has to run and drive fast everywhere to keep up with Fogg’s schedule (the benchmark against which you perform) and you rarely have time to get things wrong. I often found myself doing a given section of the game twice; once (or more, on several occasions) to explore and figure out what to do, and then again to fit the challenge within a sensible timeframe so as not to get behind Fogg’s schedule. A comparative timeline is available to you at the touch of a button, though it’s no more helpful than the red or green light next to the clock that indicates ‘late’ or ‘okay’ relative to Fogg.

The Adventurer level also places limits upon the amount of money you have available for your global circumnavigation, but I never found this aspect to be at all limiting.

Now for the music in the game. When I first heard the music playing over the loading screen I thought, ‘this is going to get really annoying before too long.’ But, much to my ongoing amazement, the jazzy upbeat songs did quite the opposite – they really grew on me. Now I’m not sure if this is an indictment upon my taste in music… I think I’ll leave that one as an exercise for the reader. Still, the references to the Bangles’ ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ certainly made me pay attention. Oh dear, I really haven’t done anything positive for my credibility as a music lover!


This is a game of oddities - so many have already been covered, but there’s more! Unfortunately, these are the ones Frogwares should have left out.

There are a lot of places in 80 Days where there are fussy hotspots. There are no crosshairs, nor is there a mouse-pointer in the main game (there is in the menu screens, but that’s not relevant here), so you have to get Oliver to be looking in the right direction, sometimes very precisely, before clicking the ‘action’ button (or left click). Whilst this is not quite pixel hunting, it is but one step away from it.

The game automatically saves when Oliver completes a significant objective, and sometimes when he has completed an insignificant one if the next one might need several attempts. This save strategy is something for which I have a deep and abiding hatred. There are times when I need to be able to stop playing a game immediately. Not at some unknown point in the future – now! And I don’t want to have to throw away any progress I might have made to that point. What’s more, and beyond my personal control issues, this feature makes the gameplay experience rather console-like. I find this most odd where there’s no version available for PS2, Xbox, or anything other than a Windows PC!

Next, this game takes an excessively loooong time to load each level. Now admittedly my PC only has 512MB RAM (only?!), but that’s the only way in which it is short of the published Recommended Requirements for this game. I could literally walk away from the game and go and make a cup of coffee (starting with a cold empty kettle) whilst the game loaded a level. Couple this with checkpoint saving, and you have a recipe for player frustration.

So far I’ve only covered the things that Frogwares deliberately put into the game; now for the bugs.

I am sorry to say that 80 Days contains serious bugs. There are frequent stop-start moments when driving around the cities (particularly San Francisco), there are graphical issues with disappearing objects – in one case my entire cabin on the cruise ship vanished just when I needed to get in there. The door was replaced by blue sky and animated fluffy clouds; a most disconcerting view when you’re about 2 decks below the water line of a cruise liner!

However, the biggest repeated error I experienced was a crash-to-desktop when going back to an earlier checkpoint within San Francisco when already playing in San Francisco.


According to the 80 Days website, this game is based upon Verne’s most popular novel. In my opinion (hey, it’s my review; so sue me!), it certainly has a plot that is worthy of that ancestor, with technical innovations and features to match, but it is very sadly let down by the bugs. In the end, none of the bugs were actually complete show stoppers, as I was able to complete the whole game, allowing me to witness the denouement, where Lavisheart reveals the plot behind the plot (I’ll say no more!), but they certainly made it difficult and frustrating to get there. But for these not insignificant problems, I would have whole-heartedly awarded it an A+.

As I was finishing the game, Frogwares released a patch that “improves game stability and compatibility, fixes unspecified minor bugs, and adds a tutorial guide.”  I didn’t find that it fixed any of the issues I’ve covered above.

A quick summary of 80 Days: hybrid action/adventure, good story, varied dynamic environments, no sliders, mazes or sound puzzles, lots and lots of timed sequences, fun music, big shame about the bugs.

Grade: B-


What do you need to play it?

Minimum Requirements

Supported OS:             Windows 98/Me/2000/XP (only)

Processor:                    Pentium 1GHz and AMD Athlon

RAM:                           512MB

Video Card:                 64MB DirectX 9-compliant video card

Sound Card:                 DirectX 9-compliant sound card (DirectX 9 is on the disc)
CD-ROM:                    8x CD-ROM

Hard Drive Space:       2GB free

Peripherals:                  Windows-compatible keyboard and mouse


Recommended Requirements (where different from the Recommended)

Processor:                    Pentium 2 GHz and AMD Athlon or higher

RAM:                           1GB

Video Card:                 128MB DirectX 9-compliant 3D accelerated video card

CD-ROM:                    24x CD-ROM

(I used Win XP, AMD XP 2400+, 512 MB RAM, and ATI Radeon 9000 Pro 128 AGP)


design copyright © 2005 GameBoomers Group

 GB Reviews Index