Most games condition us to win at all costs. So it says much for 80 Days that in the end, I was more than happy to lose Phileas Fogg’s £20,000 wager. Rarely has that old cliché ‘it’s not about the destination, but the journey’ fit a game better than this. As Fogg’s trusty valet Passepartout, I was enjoying seeing the world, visiting new cities, experiencing the local customs and enjoying the company of fascinating strangers to worry too much about getting back to London in time.
On a single trip you might see around one-seventh of the possible destinations, and even if you were to take the same journey on your next attempt, you’d likely have a very different experience. Your choices aren’t just about where to go next, when and how to get there, and what items to pack in Fogg’s luggage. It’s not simply about picking the destination for your nightly excursions, nor choosing responses in conversation. Crucially, you get to determine Passepartout’s emotional response to events: you can be curious or worldly-wise, open or guarded, trusting or suspicious. You can reminisce about the past, focus on the present or ruminate on the future. It’s a role-playing game in the true sense of the term, in that you assume a role. It’s one I enjoyed playing immensely.