Bilkins Folly appeared on my radar, er, sea charts earlier this year when developer Websoft and publisher Armor Games Studios announced that the PC-only title would launch on PlayStation and Switch. I watched the console announcement trailer and knew I had to check this game out – old-school adventure game, fun and whimsical pixel art style and pirates, of course. It’s been months since that announcement, but I’ve finally played Bilkins’ Folly for a few hours, and a small taste suggests a fun adventure is on the way when the game releases next month on October 2nd.
My time with Bilkins Folly begins hours into the game’s story, so I’ll keep the details vague. But I control the makeshift gangster Percy and his canine companion Drayton, who not only love good pets but also help me find treasures buried in the ground and more.
Drayton often barked at something on the floor, and after using the shovel in that exact spot, Percy would find something like an eye patch that he hadn’t seen before. I like Drayton’s role as Percy’s companion, because it’s good to have someone else look for buried treasure. Drayton also explores the environment — an island called Remy’s Loot during this preview — as I do, barking excitedly at things as we walk. It’s a nice touch that makes Drayton feel more than just a mechanical aspect of gameplay, and considering how important companions are in pirate narratives, I’m excited to spend more time with them.
The more I play, the more I learn what Drayton can do using the command wheel. He can fetch things and carry them for you, push heavy things and “sit”, which I can see being used as a trick for puzzles. These commands are unlocked on the experience page for Drayton, some of which I haven’t unlocked yet, including “Howlin’ Dog,” which teaches Drayton to howl at the moon.
In Remy’s Loot, I Talk to Boss Mila, which highlights Websoft’s voiceover Bilkins’ silly characters speak in an almost simlish manner from EA’s Sims series. It’s a cute touch and adds some dynamism to a text-heavy adventure game that I appreciate. Mila sits on a makeshift throne, while a dozen other pirates fill the surrounding village. Most are drunk, bottles of rum in each hand, even thrown. Others lie face down in the sand or lean on nearby huts.
I’m looking for a man named Bran who has been exiled after destroying the island’s alcohol supply. Mila, thankfully, gives me her blessing to talk to Bran, but first I repair the broken distillery by solving Tetris-like puzzles where I match specific pieces into holes to fix the breach. From there, I use the map to go to the small island where Bran is exiled. The map has the initial “X” and exact directions to Bron: down 13, right 6, down 6, left 5, down 10, and left 8. I was confused by this map at first; I try to walk down its path but considering it’s over water, Percy falls a few times and I can see that this isn’t the right way to go about it. But then I find a ruler and can map my steps on the right path. I love using this ruler on the map as it’s obvious to use Percy’s arsenal of tools to solve the puzzles.
Elsewhere in my time with Bilkins Folly, I use the maps to find treasure but not before completing a few unique mysteries. I like the variety of puzzles in this hands-on preview, and I think it will speak even more in the full release. He talks about the handcrafted nature of everything at Bilkins Foley. It’s a love letter to old adventure games — I’d be remiss not to mention the Monkey Island series, considering Bilkins’ Folly is also about pirates — but includes resources, equipment, and a more modern variety.
So far, Websoft has created a fun pirate world, great pixel art, some interesting characters (not to mention a big dog), and charming mechanics that make Bilkins more silly than point-and-click. I’m excited to learn more about Percy’s story as I love a good pirate narrative, but mechanically speaking, Bilkins’ Folly has assured me that the full release is an adventure chart.
Bilkins Folly hits PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC on October 2nd.