A video game about metal detecting might not sound like the most exciting thing in the world.
It’s not, but that’s sort of the point. The Magnificent Trufflepigs is a game about Beth and her friend Adam, brought together for the first time in years on a quest to find a missing earring. An earring that could be anywhere within acres of a farm in the English countryside. And so your time with the game will be spent, yes, walking up and down fields, metal detecting.
You see, as a child Beth spent a lot of time metal detecting for fun. She’d spend summers in the farmer’s fields, trying to find treasures along with her sisters. Affectionately called a Trufflepig by her father, she once struck lucky by finding an earring worth £500. Now, some years later, Beth’s going through an upheaval in her life. And somehow, she thinks finding the matching earring will help fix everything. So she calls on Adam to help her search.
You take on the role of Adam, and although you’ll never actually see Beth, you’re constantly in communication with her via walkie-talkie and text messages. As you dig up something new – be it trash or treasure – you’ll share your find with Beth by taking a photo. Sometimes she might have a one-line comment to make about it; other times it may be the starting point for a whole conversation.
The Magnificent Trufflepigs isn’t about metal detecting. Not really. Sure, the gameplay may be framed around it – and admittedly, finding something in the dirt, even if it does turn out to be yet another bottle cap, is rather fun – but really, The Magnificent Trufflepigs is all about narrative. It’s Beth’s story, and as you wander through the luscious green fields, you’ll be regularly interrupted by her voice on your walkie-talkie. You’ll learn about her job, her family, her relationship. Eventually, she’ll open up about everything that’s going wrong.
It’s easy to quickly come to care for Beth and Adam. You may never see them, but their excellent voice acting (from Luci Fish and Arthur Darvill respectively) really helps bring them to life. Your immersion in their world is also helped by just how beautiful The Magnificent Trufflepigs looks. Your mileage may vary depending on your PC specs, but playing on a RTX 3070 paired with a Ryzen 5 3600 allowed me to play smoothly at 4K. The countryside pops out of the screen; a wash of green grass and blue skies. It captures the feel of English countryside perfectly; the fields may not quite look photorealistic but you can still almost imagine you’re there, soaking in the summer breeze.
As laborious as it may sound to begin with, you soon get sucked into the task of metal detecting, too. I was annoyed at Adam’s snail-like pace the first time I switched the detector in, but I soon got into the groove of walking up-and-down each field, feeling a pang of joy every time I came across a new piece of treasure. Sometimes, I was that invested in the task at hand that Beth’s voice over the walkie-talkie, freezing Adam in his tracks, felt like a distraction. I care about what you have to say, Beth, but let me finish going around this field first.
At only 2-3 hours long, The Magnificent Trufflepigs is the sort of experience you can finish in one sitting. Its story takes place over five days, with Adam detecting in a new field every day, and Beth opening up a little more about her life each time. To reveal too much about how the game’s narrative pans out would ruin the experience, because the story is the genuine highlight here. But let’s just say its ending may leave you with some questions, both good and bad.
The Magnificent Trufflepigs is a beautiful escape to the countryside; its slow pace lends itself to being a relaxing and almost meditative experience. Top-class voice acting and excellent writing means you’ll quickly care for its characters and their stories; and regardless of how you feel about the ending, it’s hard to disagree that the journey was worthwhile.
The Magnificent Trufflepigs Review: GameSpew’s Score