Magnificent Disillusion

HIGH Metal detecting is strangely satisfying.  

LOW The plot is far lower stakes than advertised. 

WTF The walkie talkie seems to recharge itself.

Playing a slow-paced, story-driven game is a wonderful way to break up the monotony of constant combat in other genres. The Magnificent Trufflepigs offers no gunplay, but instead a leisurely experience revolving around using a metal detector and digging up rare trinkets. Though it offers a heartfelt story, I was expecting to unearth a narrative jewel. Instead, my excavation left me with only a bit of tin.

Trufflepigs’s story centers around Beth, a woman returning to her childhood farm to recover a long-lost earring. The player takes first-person control of Adam, Beth’s ex-boyfriend, and scours the countryside for the earring using a metal detector. As Adam unearths buried items from Beth’s past, the player learns more about their relationship, why it failed, and what their future might bring.

The presentation in Trufflepigs is solid. The rolling countryside fields are a sight to behold, as are the intricate details of the excavated artifacts. The music, though scarce, perfectly sets the mood. Though the grass and trees are untextured when under a magnifying glass, that lack of detail was not enough to ruin the strong ambience.

Metal detecting, though at times slow and monotonous, is strangely satisfying. While roaming the fields, the detector will beep faster and in a higher pitch when approaching a buried knickknack, coupled with a meter which will grow increasingly red. Adam is also provided with a map to note his findings, which is immensely helpful, though he can’t hold the map and the detector simultaneously — disappointing. Adam’s walk speed is sluggish (sometimes to a frustrating degree) so it’s confusing as to why the player must go through the additional step of putting away the detector to open the map.

Every item recovered triggers a text or walkie-talkie conversation between Adam and Beth. Discovering the particulars of their relationship — mostly Beth’s side of things — via stellar voice acting performances is engrossing. However, I didn’t get to know much about Adam outside of this. Most of the time he simply plays ‘therapist’ for Beth, and I wish we got to know him more as his own person, rather than through the lens of their past.

The farm’s fields are quite spacious, and there are many items to uncover. However, Adam’s metal detector does run out of batteries after a time, which automatically progresses the story. Weirdly, there were multiple occasions where I still had plenty of ground to cover but was forced to move on to the next field, leaving unrecovered trinkets behind. Though recovering every item is not necessary, it’s possible to miss out on factoids that flesh the duo out. Since I was invested in them, it was disappointing to know that there story points I didn’t get to see, though it does add some potential replay value.

While it’s enjoyable enough, my biggest qualm with Trufflepigs is the arc of its story. Though it starts modestly with Beth and Adam’s relationship, there are signs the player is onto something much more terrifying. Early in the experience, Beth offhandedly mentions a murderer who used to roam the area. As the plot progresses, the topic is discussed more frequently, evidence connecting the farm to the killer is discovered, and Adam grows increasingly perturbed about what he might dig up. The payoff, however, is nonexistent.

Both the trailers and the plot’s escalation led me to believe I might dig up something grotesque, and Trufflepigs would mutate from a romance story to a detective-based thriller. However, this plotline is simply abandoned, and the script’s conclusion arrives abruptly. I’m fine with leaving some things up to the player’s conjecture, but the elements surrounding the killer felt too integral to both the plot and the marketing to simply be abandoned like it is. It is immensely disappointing and feels like false advertisement.

Though Trufflepigs is not the game I was expecting, it’s still a generally pleasant and engaging experience. I loved getting to know Beth and Adam, but the plot is incredibly uneven and feels unfinished. Had I gone into the game thinking it was centered only around Beth and Adam, I would have enjoyed it far more. Sadly, the missed opportunities of the heavily-advertised ‘murderer’ plotline left a sour taste in my mouth.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Thunkd and published by AMC Games. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher2 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: At the time of review, this game is not rated. Aside from some light discussion about a serial killer who used to roam the area, there are no adult themes discussed, making this game appropriate for all ages.         

 Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All the game’s dialogue is game is subtitled, which can be resized. When metal detecting, the detector starts beeping when close to an item, but there is also a colored meter to determine proximity, making audio cues not necessary for progression. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Yes, this game’s controls are remappable.

Alex Prakken
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