When life seems to move too fast, looking back to your childhood seems to be the best way to slow down. Jaded adults hope to get back their lust for life by returning to the things they loved when they were young. Such is the case in The Magnificent Trufflepigs, where you dig around – quite literally – to relive your salad days.
The Magnificent Trufflepigs is developed by Thunkd, a studio focused on creating “evening-sized” and “human-shaped” games. Headed by Andrew Cranshaw, the lead designer of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, and under the label of AMC Games, the game promises a cinematic experience delivered in a fresh medium. The exploration and narrative aspects of the game have drawn comparisons to Firewatch.
The Magnificent Trufflepigs is available for PC on Steam and soon on the Nintendo Switch, for your regional pricing.
Story – Digging up Secrets
The Magnificent Trufflepigs starts off with a young woman, Beth, who returns to her metal-detecting hobby from childhood. The old Stanning Farm from her youth was sold and ready to be flipped. This is where she once found the valuable earring that made her famous. In a bid to reclaim the spark of her childhood, she scrambles for company to help her dig up the matching pair before it’s too late. You play as Adam, a long-suffering friend who helps divide and conquer the farm.
It’s a story that starts off in the fashion of many a Hallmark movie. The story is a simple, slice-of-life game that involves very human characters. Digging up certain pieces and looking at interesting sights around the farm gets special dialogue. These sections let you in more about our characters and their small town. It gave hints of more interesting plotlines, such as the sightings of a UFO and rumors of a serial killer. These get resolved rather quickly in the dialogues you have with Beth, however. I feel like these questions about Stanning could have been fleshed out even further through environmental storytelling.
As Adam, you speak to your childhood friend Beth and try to untangle her situation and understand where she is coming from. The dialogue feels like something out of a TV series, but still natural. I found that the responses you do choose make very minimal changes in dialogue, and it would have been more interesting if they changed anything within the gameplay, or how Beth reacts to you in the long run or cutscenes. It does work well, sufficiently revealing the details of the story while having moments of levity, awkwardness, and friendship. Adam’s relationship with Beth is both sides intimate and cold, and the nature of the connection builds up to the ending.
Overall, this is a slice-of-life story about self-discovery that is a tight narrative experience, if a little straightforward. I wish that Adam’s dialogue would have more interesting effects on the story, and for the in-game events to be a bit more dynamic to allow the player to feel a progression.
Gameplay – Easygoing Treasure Hunting
The main gameplay experience is the use of the metal detector throughout wider and wider scopes of land in each succeeding level. The challenge is to find as many “treasures” as possible before your detector’s battery goes out. Trying and calculating the best strategy for going through the fields is the main task. Or, you could go gung-ho and wave your detector wherever you feel like it.
The use of the metal detector is straightforward – you simply wave it around, walking slowly around the field as you go. You are prompted when you’ve found something, cutting straight to digging up the metal treasure. As far as simulators go, this one is pretty simplified, but it’s sufficiently relaxing. With the nature of the narrative, there are key findings that seem to be automated to make sure the story moves forward, but the rest is pure hard work and good instinct detecting experience.
The Magnificent Trufflepigs clearly champions the narrative aspect of the experience over the interactive parts. This is fine because I found the metal detecting without the sun and the dirt to be quite peaceful and meditative busywork. The game could be a very interesting narrative experience to play in VR.
Audio and Graphics – Raw and Romantic
The Stanning Farm is beautifully rendered into a wide and bright landscape. You hear people on paragliders shout out and the helicopters roaring overhead. In especially tender and tense moments, soft piano music plays that makes you pay more attention to the dialogue. The graphics and sound design work together to create a touching narrative.
The script was definitely brought to life by its two stars. Arthur Darvill and Luci Fish have great chemistry, playing off each other like two old friends. They perfectly balanced a happy homecoming and their uncomfortably strained past. It feels like eavesdropping on a reunion in a coffee shop!
While the stages look great and offer a little variety from time to time, it would have been nice to get some more variety about what we’re looking at. After a while, the wondrous buildings and wind turbines off to the distance become a little boring to see. It loses its magic after a while.
The Magnificent Trufflepigs was reviewed on PC with a key provided by Evolve PR.