The Magnificent Trufflepigs Review – Not as magnificent as you’d expect

Gare – Tuesday, June 15, 2021 5:28 PM
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The Magnificent Trufflepigs, a narrative adventure game from developer Thunkd, starts off with an innocent enough premise – a friend asks you to help find a buried earring of great sentimental value, so you travel down to the English countryside with metal detector in hand, and get to… well, metal-detecting. The two of you would then chat along the way, and the story would unfold, hopefully filled with interesting revelations, twists and meaningful messages – at least that’s how I imagined it. And yes, there is kind of a story, and it does ultimately unfold, as stories so often do. But I’d be lying if I said it’s left a particularly strong impression on me.

Not all that glitters is gold

First off, let’s talk gameplay. I’ve got issues with the storytelling as well, but I figured we’d get this out of the way first. So, the game is about metal-detecting. Big surprise, I know. As an idea, I think this could’ve worked in a more well-executed title, but here, you only get the bare minimum. Press a button to start detecting as you walk across the field. When you find something, press another button to dig it up. Then a final click to snap a photo and send it to your partner via your smartphone, and that’s it. This is what you’ll be repeating for the duration of roughly 2-ish hours. Slowly walking across a field and pressing the same buttons over and over again. Okay, I get it, narrative adventure games are supposed to focus on the story. Fine. But the stuff you unearth is largely just junk with no interesting stories attached, so most of the time you really do feel like you’re wasting your time digging up old nails and cheap toy cars. And no, you never find a dead body, either. Part of me wished the game had done a bit of a genre shift into horror/thriller halfway through, but alas, the story does pretty much what it says on the tin – or more specifically, it doesn’t even quite do that well enough. There is a bit of a twist at the very end, but it honestly doesn’t affect much, nor does it make you re-evaluate what you’ve just experienced. It’s not particularly well-executed.

Hollow revelations

So, to reiterate: yes, the storyline sadly never quite goes in an interesting direction; instead, you’re forced into the role of a guy called Adam who listens to his friend’s fears and worries and occasionally replies to them. Despite the game being labeled as a romance, there’s not much of that, either: the narrative largely focuses on the female main character – Beth – coming to terms with the fact that she’s unhappy with her current life and how she ultimately manages to find a new purpose for herself. The characterization of the two leads leaves a lot to be desired, though, and while some of the dialogue can be charming and the game touches upon some potentially interesting ideas concerning dreams and personal happiness, it never explores them with a satisfying level of depth. I get the feeling this game would’ve been better off as a short story or a novella – then the major themes might’ve gotten the attention they deserved, and we would’ve been spared from the mind-numbing tedium of having to repeatedly dig up trash with a metal detector.

Final thoughts

Do I recommend The Magnificent Trufflepigs? Well, no. And not necessarily because the experience was wholly abysmal (there are brief glimpses of heart here and there), but because it’s the video game equivalent of a disinterested shrug, and I’m genuinely not sure what it can offer to audiences that hasn’t been done better elsewhere. Gameplay-wise, it’s repetitive and monotonous, even by “walking sim” standards. There’s nothing fun about the metal detecting mechanic since it literally consists of pressing the same buttons over and over again, which causes it to wear out its welcome within minutes of starting the adventure. Things don’t look particularly great on the narrative front, either: I had hoped the storyline would help make up for the lackluster metal-detecting mechanics, but that never quite happened. Instead, what we get is a well-intentioned but woefully unremarkable tale that I'll probably forget about in a matter of weeks, if not days.


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