X marks the spot in this treasure hunting adventure!
Bilkins’ Folly is a title that came out of nowhere to become one of my favorite indie experiences of 2023. As it’s an excellent modern adventure title with classic influences on its sleeve, I hope more people can experience Bilkins’ Folly and discover the buried treasure it is.
Bilkins’ Folly stars Percy Bilkins, a treasure hunter who is looking for his mother and grandfather, the former trying to stop the latter from seeking a fabled treasure and potentially ruining the family in the process. Things start as Percy gets caught in a storm and loses everything but his loyal dog Drayton. Now he needs to find a ship, a crew, and track down his lost family while seeking treasure along the way.
The gameplay is pretty solid adventure game fare, where you need to accomplish a task or find an item to keep pushing the story forward. A lot of these include some form of navigation, using your map and tools - Percy is a treasure hunter, after all. You are also aided by Drayton who you train throughout the game to help find treasures and follow your command. This all leads to several fun puzzles while you unravel the story, as well as a number of optional challenges you can pursue. For the most part, the puzzles are solid and the most difficult ones are optional challenges. However, occasionally there are a few puzzles and navigation challenges that are on the obtuse end of things that are in the main questline. I occasionally asked friends for help and at one point jumped into the game’s Discord to ask for advice there. This feels par for the course for adventure titles, which are often known to have obscure puzzle solutions, and while none of these solutions rival classic adventure game moon logic I did struggle with some of these solutions. That said, figuring out these puzzles gave me a great sense of achievement.
Bilkins’ Folly has charming graphics and music, but the writing is where it shines most. There’s lots of genuinely funny moments throughout, and I was excited to meet so many funny, quirky characters. The influence of things like Monkey Island is clear but Bilkins’ Folly does its own thing in making for an enjoyable adventure game experience. There are also some moments of surprising emotionality and I found myself moved, much more than I thought I would be. In particular, I got very attached to Drayton, who is just the sweetest dog. Bilkins’ Folly threads the needle of being silly while also having the stakes be genuine.
Other than some solutions being obtuse, my other main complaint is that occasionally performance suffers. Frame rates drop significantly when lots of characters are on the screen and I noticed a handful of glitches including a game crash. For the most part this doesn’t affect gameplay or my enjoyment of Bilkins’ Folly, but it was noticeable.
Ultimately, Bilkins’ Folly is a game you should definitely pick up if you are an adventure game fan or want to dip your toes into that genre. This is a fun puzzle game with charming writing and great mechanics that feel very satisfying when you figure out. Some solutions may be difficult, so if you don’t want to feel frustration you might want to sit this one out. However, if you enjoy puzzle games and are looking for a charming adventure game, I’d recommend Bilkins’ Folly.