Bilkins' Folly popped up on my radar, err, sea charts, earlier this year when developer Webbysoft and Publisher Armor Games Studios announced the PC-only title was actually going to launch on PlayStation and Switch now as well. I watched the console announcement trailer and knew I needed to check this game out – old-school adventure gameplay, a fun and whimsical pixel art style, and pirates, of course. It’s been months since that announcement, but I’ve finally played a few hours of Bilkins' Folly, and that small taste indicates a jolly adventure is on the way when the game releases next month on October 2.
My time with Bilkins' Folly starts hours into the game’s story, so I’ll keep details vague. But I control Percy, a makeshift pirate, and his pup companion, Drayton, who not only loves a good pet but also helps me find treasures buried in the ground and more.
Drayton often barked at something on the ground, and after using a shovel at that exact spot, I'd find something, like an eye patch that Percy remarks is nothing he hasn't seen before. I like Drayton's role as Percy’s companion, as having someone else on the lookout for buried treasure is nice. Drayton also explores the environment – an island called Remy's Loot during this preview – as much as me, barking with excitement at things as we walk by. It's a nice touch that makes Drayton feel like more than just a mechanical element of gameplay, and considering how vital companions often are in pirate narratives, I'm excited to spend more time with him.
The more I play, the more I learn what Drayton can do using a wheel of commands. He can bring items and carry them for you, push heavy objects, and "sit," which I can see being used strategically for puzzles. These commands are unlocked on an experience page for Drayton, which includes some I didn’t unlock like "Howlin' Dog," which teaches Drayton to howl at the moon.
On Remy's Loot, I speak to boss Mila, which highlights Webbysoft's take on voiceover as Bilkins' Folly characters talk in an almost Simlish-like way from EA's The Sims series. It's a cute touch and adds some dynamism to a text-heavy adventure game I appreciate. Mila sits on a makeshift throne, but a dozen other pirates fill the surrounding village. Most are drunk, with rum bottles in each hand, even while throwing up. Others are face down in the sand or leaning on nearby shacks.
I'm looking for someone named Bron, who is in exile after destroying the island's alcohol supply. Mila, fortunately, gives me her blessing to speak to Bron, but first I repair the distillery he broke by solving a Tetris-like puzzle where I fit specific pieces into holes to repair a breach. From there, I head to the small island where Bron is exiled using a map. The map has a starting "X" and precise directions to Bron: down 13, right 6, down 6, left 5, down 10, and left 8. I’m confused by this map at first; I try to walk its path but considering it's over water, Percy falls in a few times and I see it's not the correct way to go about this. But then I discover a ruler and can map out my steps along the right path. I like using this ruler on the map as it’s clear using Percy's arsenal of tools is required to solve puzzles.
Elsewhere during my time with Bilkins' Folly, I use maps to find treasure but not before completing a few other unique mysteries. I like the variety of puzzles in this hands-on preview and I hope it speaks to even more in the full release. They speak to the handcrafted nature of everything in Bilkins' Folly. It’s a love letter to the adventure games of old – I’d be remiss not to mention the Monkey Island series considering Bilkins' Folly is also about pirates – but features the resources, tools, and variety of something more modern.
Webbysoft has, so far, crafted a fun pirate world, great pixel art, some interesting characters (not to mention a great dog), and engaging mechanics that make Bilkins' Folly more 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 me hopeful the full release is an adventure worth charting.
Bilkins' Folly hits PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC on October 2.