By Meredith Jones Russell
Loosely based on Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel Around the World in 80 Days, Fire Hazard Games’ new immersive game 80 Days: A Real-World Adventure invites groups to race across central London solving clues, raising funds, making critical expedition purchases and deciding whether or not to trust the characters they meet along the way.
Guided by a web app, participants have 80 minutes to earn as much money as possible by answering cryptic puzzles. They must choose what equipment to spend their cash on before returning to the meeting place to put their purchases to good use in the grand finale: a battle to complete a virtual trip around the world in the quickest time possible and be crowned the winning team.
Armed with only a map and a mobile, after the briefest of briefs even the most foolhardy explorer might find themselves slightly baffled by the aims and objectives of the expedition. However, with plenty of locations to aim for to find answers to clues, it is quite easy to get stuck in quickly and simply pick up strategies as you go along. And every decision does matter; spend your hard-earned funds on the wrong equipment and you could find yourself up the Suez Canal without a paddle in the final, where points really do mean prizes.
80 Days is a feat of ingenuity and organisation. With several teams running largely unaccompanied around the city it would be easy for the experience to feel entirely self-guided and anarchic, but the tightly-plotted game design and cleverly orchestrated meetings with actors along the way keep the whole thing structured and on track. Occasional glitches with the app design are minor and do little to spoil the fun.
So don’t delay, gather your travelling companions and circumnavigate the globe, or at least a couple of square miles of Zone 1, in this superbly planned and exquisitely executed 80 minutes of high-octane excitement in the home of Phileas Fogg himself.
80 Days: A Real-World Adventure runs through 29 September in London.
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