10th Alakajam!: Around The World

“Around The World” by Thomas ten Cate.

“[The] world is actually a cylinder, with the poles at its top and bottom ends. The monarch demands that you prove this by taking your ship around the world and returning safely to the port of origin. Unfortunately, your ship is barely seaworthy[.] […] You will need to find nearby ports to trade with, so that you earn enough to make the necessary improvements and buy the maps you need for a safe voyage.”

Creating an entry for a game jam always comes with one very difficult task: To find the golden amount of gameplay elements and mechanics that you want and actually are able to create in a short timeframe – the perfect scope, so to speak. For me, “Around The World” is a jam submission that absolutely nailed this endeavor. Here you step into the role of an explorer who has to figure out if the world really is a cylinder as their royal rulers state. You are equipped only with a simple ship and some money, but nothing more. That is hardly a proper preparation for such an expedition, but luckily for you, the port cities can help you out by putting provisions, certain commodities, special upgrades for your ocean vessel as well as single parts of the world map for sale. Each of these item categories serves its own special purpose for the gameplay.

Let us take a look on the trade goods – items like spices, porcelain and gemstones – first: Each city has an individual demand and supply for those. The buying price for you is always and everywhere the same, but the selling price can differ: Whenever you have an item that represents a cities’ demand, you can sell it for double the buying price. While that economic structure is of course unrealistically oversimplified, it does not make the game an easy one. You will still struggle with your financial situation every now and then, as the cargo size of your ship and the supply of the cities is limited. Thereby, finding infinitely profitable trading routes between two seaports is not possible.

For a neat sum of money you can also purchase upgrades for your ship like speed boosts, new cargo slots or nautic telescopes which will enlarge your field of vision. Other places will offer you single fragments of the world map. Collecting as many as possible of them to create a complete representation of the cylinder is your main quest in “Around The World”. But even an experienced captain like you cannot live on salty sea air alone, so you will always need some provisions on board. However, your ship can contain only nine portions at the maximum, so you will have to make regular stops at the coastal towns to replenish your stock. So give this fantastic exploration game with its fascinating economy design, where each buying and selling option comes with its own consequences, a try. [PLAY]