By Chris Picone, 07 October 2023
Bilkins' Folly's an isometric 2d adventure game featuring a narrative and a stack of puzzles and mini-games. It plays an awful lot like a point and click adventure, so if you're into those I suspect you'll enjoy this, except that it does make excellent use of its perspective, adding a nice element of exploration that suits the game's "treasure hunting" theme wonderfully.
The majority of the game comes in the form of an isometric 2d platform game; the graphics are bright, colourful, cartoony, and really beautiful. Perfect for kids but I find them adorable too, especially Drayton (the gorgeous dog that follows you around). There are tons of overlays as you find lots of codes, ciphers, scribble maps, and other puzzles and clues throughout the game. It also features a few cutscenes - few and far between as the majority of the narrative's told through dialogue or as you progress through the puzzles - but they're really high quality too.
Bilkin's Folly starts out like any point and click; after a short cutscene you're left stranded on an island. There's a treasure chest, but you lack the means to break into it. There's also a lone pine which seems important but you're not sure why yet. You can't get off the island - yet, at least - so you wander around looking for clues and meet a friendly ghost with a sword sticking into his spine. While searching for his body you learn a little about the story, find a way to cut the tree down to make a boat, and find a few other random items and unsolveable puzzles along the way. The treasure hunting theme is strong with this one; you'll spend a lot of time just exploring the islands, digging where your pet Drayton catches a scent, and otherwise trying to identify parts of the island that match scribble maps you find along the way, then trying to walk 6 steps north, 5 steps east, and 3 steps south where X hopefully marks the spot. There's a good range of puzzle variety though, and plenty of quirky characters to meet as you dig into the story.
I went in expecting to like Bilkin's Folly, but I was surprised by just how much. I really enjoyed sniffing around the islands with Drayton and in between the treasure hunts, I love a puzzle, and I got a real kick out of breaking all the cipher codes.