80 Days wins our 2015 award for Best Writing, and we've written all about its many journeys and mysteries below. We'll be posting the rest of our awards and personal picks daily as we approach the end of the year, which we're collecting on our main GOTY page.
Andy Kelly: The quality of the writing in 80 Days is so far beyond any game I can think of. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever read, in any medium, painting a vivid picture of a Victorian, technologically advanced alternate history. Not only are the descriptions of the places you visit rich and evocative, but it has heart too. Passepartout’s journey isn’t just a physical one: how he grows as a character, from humble valet to seasoned traveller, is as important as making it around the globe. And those rare moments when the otherwise inscrutable Phileas Fogg lets his gentlemanly mask slip are just beautiful.
Wes Fenlon: I marvel at the ways 80 Days so often defies the simplicity of its form. At first I made decisions purely to get from one city to another as quickly as possible. Slowly I began to discover how to a chain of those decisions could lead to an encounter with an international jewel thief, or a living airship that would fly me halfway across the world, or put me in the clutches of literature’s most famous submarine captain. Once an item in my suitcase, which I only carried with me to sell, embroiled me in a murder mystery interlude that would make Agatha Christie proud. The simple choose-your-own adventure structure of 80 Days masks how much is going on beneath the surface.
I found some of 80 Days’ longer storylines so affecting, I just had to play through them again, deliberately traveling the same path to read the same words and see a slightly different outcome. 80 Days is often a game about love, but the romance is only occasionally between characters. It’s a game in love with writing and with the world, written with a passion for history and travel that permeates every line of description and dialogue. I can’t help but love it back.
Chris Thursten: After you’ve played it through a few times, go directly north. Don’t ask questions, just go north and don’t stop. That’s the joy of 80 Days, for me—it conceals secrets and sideplots like no other interactive fiction I’ve played. Every run through it really is a journey into the unknown.
Samuel Roberts: It’s the quality of writing that holds everything together in interactive fiction, and to anyone who plays 80 Days, they swear this is as good as it gets in games right now—Meg Jayanth’s script and well-considered characterisation makes each journey unexpected and exciting.
Phil Savage: 80 Days is a game that rewards you for travelling off the beaten path. Circumnavigate the globe with rigorous efficiency, and you'll get a brief taste of the politics and wonder of its fantastical, colonial world. The real joy lurks in the sidelines, where following an unlikely lead to some isolated part of the world results in amazing, impossible adventure.