When I was a kid I went down to the river in the hopes of finding treasure along the shore. Despite never digging up anything of note, the allure of what may have been under my fingers at any given moment never died away. That’s the feeling that Bilkins’ Folly aims to give us, but does it hit pay dirt?
In Bilkins’ Folly we take control of Percy Bilkins and his dog in their quest to be reunited with relatives long since disappeared, and hopefully finding some treasure along the way. It’s a simple story on paper, but like the best stories it’s the journey itself that matters, and developer Webbysoft did not disappoint. Before too long we’re building our own pirate crew, getting tricked into marriage, breaking free of prison, and more. At multiple intervals in the game we are given options that drastically change what happens to the crew and how they might react to us. It’s a very open-ended experience for a game of this nature.
To become the world’s best treasure hunter not only do we need wits, but also the tools of the trade. Just like a traditional Zelda title, there are many items to obtain to help solve puzzles and discover loot. Over the course of the game Percy will obtain a shovel and pickaxe, fishing gear, bombs, telescopes, rulers and dividers for maps, and more. Along for the ride is Drayton, Percy’s beloved family dog, who we can pet and hug to teach new tricks that aid us in solving certain puzzles, such as sitting on a pressure-sensitive tile or playing tug-of-war with a church bell rope.
However, while there are many brilliant puzzles and obstacles to overcome, there are also a tad too many obtuse or poorly telegraphed ones. At times Bilkins’ Folly feels like an old point and click game, where the logic doesn’t quite add up or requires pixel perfect accuracy. Perhaps that’s fitting, considering the game has some definite Secret of Monkey Island vibes, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying. Fortunately, the highs outweigh those lows that pop up from time to time.
Presentation-wise, Bilkins’ Folly excels aesthetically with cute, charming visuals and an excellent soundtrack. Unfortunately the game can be a technical mess at times, with several areas prone to massive slowdown; there are also quite a few glitches throughout, the most annoying of the bunch being quests not completing as they should, preventing one from getting every trophy. I played on the PS5 and would’ve gotten the Platinum if everything worked as it was supposed to. These issues are by no means a dealbreaker for us, especially considering the developer continues to support the game with considerable updates that have addressed some of them.
With plenty of cryptic riddles and treasure maps to solve, locks to pick, tombs and dungeons to raid, the sense of treasure being right under your fingernails was ever-present. But like most endeavors to seek out treasure you just might get lost in the obtuse and cryptic logic, or the long bouts of coming up empty. For that reason Bilkins’ Folly encapsulates what it means to a treasure hunter and puzzle solver more than any game I’ve played before, where it’s not always high sailing but still a damn good time nevertheless. If you have the patience to bear with it, you’ll experience a hidden gem that can easily last over 30 hours.
This review is based on a PS5 copy of the game purchased by the reviewer.