10/06/2021

๐Ÿ– The Magnificent Trufflepigs | PC | Review | 6/10 | "The Pinnacle of Games About Trundling Through English Countryside" ๐Ÿ– @ThunkdGames #IndieGames #GameDev

Share This Post On Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share This Post On

Some developers have made a career of mastering a single genre: Jeff Minter and psychedelic shooters, Hideo Kojima and stealth action, Warren Spector and the immersive sim. Now you can add Andrew Crenshaw to that list, as The Magnificent Trufflepigs proves he’s at the very pinnacle of games about trundling very slowly through the English countryside.

Crenshaw’s previous game, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, was a sumptuous walking simulator in which you strolled through a picturesque hyper-detailed village trying to figure out why everyone had disappeared. As you explored you heard voice clips from the former residents, lending it a The Archers meets Doctor Who vibe.

The somewhat less dazzling Trufflepigs follows very closely in those footsteps, albeit in a way obviously designed to make development as painless as possible. At the core is the relationship between Emma and Adam, a duo on a metal detecting hunt for a missing earring that could be in one of several farmer’s fields. As your detector reassuringly beeps, you amble around waiting for a hit, zero in on the spot, and dig up the object. It’s almost always junk, but you snap a picture, send it to your partner, and get a little flavour commentary on it.

It won’t take long before you realise that the metal detecting is merely the scaffold for the narrative to rest on. Sadly this means you’re not actually doing any detecting - for example, the detector doesn’t beep when you wave it over a metal bucket. I also suspect the game tips the scales as I found the same things in the same order in different locations on separate playthroughs. So, annoyingly, those fantasies of a video game version of The Detectorists will have to be fulfilled elsewhere.

What remains is effectively a radio play between two unseen characters. Emma (Lucy Fish) is facing the breakdown of her engagement, stress at work, and general ennui with the direction of her life. To unpick this knot she’s summoned Adam (Arthur Darville), who she hasn’t spoken to in years. Adam is both a confidant and therapist, giving her gentle advice on what will make her happy.

Both performances are fine, though neither actor is particularly stretched by the material. The best moments come from Emma’s uncertainty about her decisions, especially when she contrasts her focus on her job with her friends’ lives: one has a young family and the other is a party-loving hedonist. As someone who’s kinda the latter, hearing Emma wondering whether her friend will eventually regret unnerved me a bit. But though Trufflepig’s problems are small and personal, it’s still nice to hear them expressed in a video game.

There’s a little more to the story than that, but not much. Trufflepigs is consciously lo-fi and meant to be completed in a single two-hour sitting, with pacing rigorously enforced by your detector’s minuscule battery. You can beg for a little overtime, but there’s no leeway to endlessly explore and you won’t have time to scour every inch of the field (even so I managed to get 44/50 objects on my first playthrough).

While Trufflepigs is easy to like, it doesn’t come anywhere close to its obvious inspirations like Firewatch. Throughout there’s a raft of little annoyances that get increasingly difficult to ignore, the worst being the game giving you a popup reminding you that you’ll need to dig up whatever object you’ve found. That’s fine the first time, but after 40 buried items I get it.

Then there’s the way you’re constantly being interrupted by non-interactive cutscenes: at times you cannot take more than a few steps before Adam pulls out the walkie-talkie for yet more dialogue. Just let me dig up tent pegs in peace dammit.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Like what you see in the Games Freezer?
Why not tell us what you think with a few well-chosen comments? :)

๐ŸŽฎ Featured Posts ๐ŸŽฎ