It’s not totally surprising that people haven’t thought to make metal detecting a full game. It has a few bit-parts in games, like the bolt finder in Ratchet and Clank, or the item finder in the Pokémon series, but they’re mostly optional. The Magnificent Trufflepigs has one aim. To create an absorbing experience where you spend the majority of the game walking up and down fields with a beeping wand.
It’s a big ask. Especially when you move significantly slower when you’ve got the metal detector out. In order to keep players engaged, the devs have employed the old tactic of having plenty of random treasures to dig up, as well as an intriguing story to go along with it. As a dungeon-crawling fan, this definitely works out quite nicely for me. Admittedly there’s not as much treasure as I’d like to dig up, but fifty pieces is definitely more than enough and if you want to see them all in one play-through, you need to be quite adept at knowing how to maximise the battery on your metal detector. Generally speaking, you’ll find plenty of pretty standard garbage that you’d expect to find in a field. Things like tent pegs, old screws, bottlecaps and the like are all very much in abundance, but occasionally you’ll find something a bit more interesting and that always makes the loot-hoarder in me want to keep digging!
The point of The Magnificent Trufflepigs is to try to dig up a missing earring. The game starts with Beth, a lady who once found an expensive earring in a farmer’s land when she was a child. The farm is due to be sold off in a week to be turned into a solar farm, so she wants to spend as much time as she can digging it all up to try to find the earring’s pair. Unfortuantely, none of her friends want to help out, so she’s forced to contact a long-lost friend whom none of her friends seem to like, named Adam. He is who you’ll be playing as through the game, chatting to Beth through an old walkie-talkie and text messages about all your finds.
You’re given a single part of the farm each day to work through, and each of them overlook a magnificent vista into the nearby village. As well as digging up untold treasures, there are a few different landmarks scattered around that you can photograph and chat to Beth about too, which really adds depth to what is a relatively short experience. It would be a shame to try to speedrun this game, as looking around and finding all the points of interest is definitely one of the parts that I enjoyed most, and it was extremely relaxing to do it.
There’s only two characters in The Magnificent Trufflepigs, and they’re both voice acted extremely well and sound like people that genuinely know eachother quite well. There’s a lot to enjoy about their relationship, although I did find Adam was a bit “nice guy”-ish which was difficult to enjoy at times with the weirdly intimate conversations that people that haven’t chatted for several years probably wouldn’t go into – although this is explained later on in the game, so I won’t spoil that for you. Between the two of them though, they tell a lovely story of self-discovery and you are left with an impression of things that have been left untouched on the farm – including the fate of the farmer’s wife.
The Magnificent Trufflepigs does suffer from an exceptionally dull gameplay loop, sadly. It is probably the one thing that I really didn’t enjoy in the game. You can’t run around with a metal detector, granted, but you move around extremely slowly, and when you find something you’re always given the same prompts. Hit one key to use your shovel, then hit another three times to dig it up using your trowel, which leaves identical patterns and suggests that everything is buried at exactly the same depth throughout the farm. I’m not saying I’d like to be hammering away several dozen times to dig up a bottle cap, but a bit of variety would have been interesting and it took me out of the game at times.
Although there’s only fifty treasures to find, it does feel like a bit of a missed opportunity to not have an “endless” mode with several hundred other items to find. I do understand this is more of a feature request than a problem with the game, but if you enjoy finding things and digging them up – which you would do if you bought this game – you’d leave it feeling a bit disappointed if you were only able to dig in the fixed time that Beth gives you to dig on the farm. I would’ve loved to just dig around on the farm and try to find as much as possible, even try to uncover story points that I felt weren’t explored fully due to them being tangential to the main storyline.
Overall though, The Magnificent Trufflepigs is a fun game that doesn’t outstay its welcome. You’ll find around three to four hours of gameplay in it if you want to get all the achievements and hunt down all the treasures. I’m going to keep an eye on it in case there is an endless mode added, because that would certainly boost play times into the double figures of hours, despite my dislike of the mundaneity of the actual digging. It’s a lovely game that has a nice, relaxing vibe to it with you being out in nature, so it’s definitely one that I’d recommend.