William and Sly is a game about a fox in a pseudo fantasy world, on a task from your friend to activate a number of teleporting runes, spread over a large world, and to banish some evil creatures with light magic while you’re at it. The narrative, such as it is, is not particularly amazing or important. It merely sets up a reason for you to explore this world, not that I needed any more incentive than a pretty place with things to discover.
Oddly enough, I had this game all written up in one of my compilation posts, with the general gist being “I should like this, but it’s just not grabbing me.” Then I opened it up one last time to refresh my memory about the music or the plot or something, when it happened - it grabbed me. Once I slowed down, relaxed, and let the game unfurl how it should, I got sucked in by the atmosphere, the exploration gameplay and the slick animations. If you can sit back and take your time with it, there is a lot to enjoy about William and Sly.
The “main” goal of the game is to find and activate 13 “rune stones” spread throughout the world. You do so by collecting magical “fairy flies” that are everywhere. Once you have enough of them (which is not difficult to get) their magical power will allow you to turn on the rune stones, which then become active teleport points you can use from then on. When you’ve turned on all the stones, you are allowed access to the final boss fight, which was surprisingly difficult until I figured out the pattern.
But there’s more to do than just the main goal. Activating the runes gives you a brief jolt of white magic that you can use to destroy these little demons that hang around. There’s no real incentive to do so, apart from the game telling you it’s good (and maybe there’s a “completionist” itch it scratches), but it’s still pretty satisfying when you make it work. You can also spend some time hunting mushrooms, which are everywhere, both in plain sight and hidden in caves and on hard-to-reach ledges. Again, there’s no real in-game incentive to do this.
But I rarely need a good reason to explore. There are tons of collectibles off the beaten path, but for me, going off the beaten path is its own reward. If you give me an interesting world with lots of nooks and crannies that can be missed, I’m glad to go poking around. It’s one of my favorite things to do in games, and William and Sly gives you plenty of reason and opportunity to do so. It’s easily the most enjoyable part of the game for me, but there are plenty of other reasons (the art, platforming, atmosphere, and animation) to like the game.
Wanting to play William and Sly like your standard quick, twitchy flash platformer nearly killed it for me. But once I slowed down and tried to enjoy myself, I found a lot to love about this game, and I recommend doing the same. You can play it for free in your browser at Kongregate, and visit the developer, Lucas Paakh, at his site.