80 Days: The Song of Scheherezade

What kind of game is 80 Days? I’ll tell you what kind of game it is. It is the kind of game that contains song-and-dance routines.

Most of the game’s Cairo chapter is spent on a quest chain to locate Uncle Mathew’s lost patent papers. I imagine the other chapters will be similar; the patent-hunt gives the game the excuse it needs to make you stick around in each city for a while rather than immediately dashing off to the next spot on the itinerary in an effort to meet the 80-day deadline. The first patent turns out to be encased, for some reason, in a bauble of smash-proof glass. The only way to break in to retrieve it is through the resonating screeches of a cantankerous local diva, stage-named Scheherezade. Once you have the document, you have no more reason to stick around Cairo, but just before you leave, Scheherezade puts on a production number, singing a summary of what’s happened so far to a pop tune used previously in the background music, with a chorus line of random NPCs doing a campy walk-like-an-Egyptian dance in CGI unison.

At this point, I suspect that each chapter — there seem to be four — will end in a similar musical number. And I’m warming to the notion as I write this, but it was honestly a little painful to sit through the first time. I’m reminded a little of the banal doggerel scattered through The Bard’s Tale (2004) and a little of the bizarre little French music video that turns up without warning at the end of MDK. The former is cheese, the latter is camp, and 80 Days lies somewhere between them.

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