A mediocre attempt at a Firewatch clone which started to unravel from the start and just got worse. A disappointing story and a dislikeable character make this hard to enjoy.
Publisher: AMC Games
Release date: 03 June, 2021
The Magnificent Trufflepigs is a first person narrative based game surrounding two characters, Beth and Adam.
Beth has not seen Adam for years; Not since she became famous for finding a precious earring on the local farm. They shared a relationship together but after this incident she became wayward and they drifted apart. Out of the blue, Beth invites Adam to spend the week with her metal detecting on the same farm. Her life has begun to unravel and she wants to revisit better days by finding the illusive second earring.
Adam has a lot of questions to ask Beth, especially as things never quite got resolved between them. They discuss various issues about life including their relationship, whilst trying to find that second illusive earring.
Beth and Adam communicate through their walkie talkies, discussing life issues and commenting on the objects they find whilst metal detecting. Occasionally Adam has a dialogue choice to make but this hardly changes the story at all and feels like a token gesture.
They also communicate through their mobile phones, taking photos of the objects they find and conversing through text messages. Occasionally, the item will invoke a conversation over the walkie talkie and Beth will talk to you about the item, either explaining its historical value or reminiscing, if it is a familiar object.
The metal detecting scenes seem quite linear even though you do have free range of the field. There is by no means a large area to explore but there is enough room for you to feel like you are trying.
The detecting mechanism is done very well. It acts like a traffic light system. Green is warm, amber is closer and red means you are on top of the item. An audible sound of beeping directs you to the goal and it feels quite satisfying the first time you strike gold. Once you detect an item you need to dig it up and examine it by twisting it around. This never reveals anything new. It’s a bit pointless. You soon realise that items are found regardless of where you search and this takes away the enjoyment a little. Also, Beth does hardly any metal detecting at all. I’m not sure what she is doing but she isn’t metal detecting!
There are five days of metal detecting to perform and the story revolves around these activities. Each day is broken up by a lunchbreak. During the lunchtime is where most of the meaningful talk happens as they sit in the car together.
Occasionally, you can take pictures of unusual items (usually achievement based) and Beth or Adam will comment on them. A camera icon will appear and you’ll be able to take a snap.
There are fifteen relatively easy achievements to chase. The hardest achievement is finding fifty unique items. There is a counter on the pause menu to help you here. Any other achievements you’ve missed can be revisited by selecting the day after you’ve completed the game. Very handy.
Visuals are very pleasant and the art direction is sometimes beautiful and imaginative. There is a nice atmosphere in the game. It invokes summer days and wide-open spaces which is perfect for a farm location. Landmarks are rendered nicely and fit into the story well. For example, we can see Beth’s place of work in the distance which is a place providing much angst for her, and through her dialogues we get a good feeling about the small-town mentality she experiences.
The text boxes and the font of the subtitles seemed a bit amateurish to me. It’s hard to describe but they just seemed too basic.
The voice acting is clear and crisp but they have regional dialects which I didn’t enjoy. Although it may represent a northern accent, people do not speak with so much expression and vigor all the time. It just felt like Beth was over-acting constantly and there weren’t any poignant or sad moments in the story because she was always way too jovial all the time.
Adam was much better. He wasn’t so hectic in his approach, but even his dialogues didn’t seem very plausible. I felt like they were both trying to over compensate for the bad script.
There are different music tracks playing in the background. They are gentle and relaxing and sound quite charming.
What a huge disappointment.
Firewatch is one of my most favourite games and left a long and lasting impression on me. The Magnificent Trufflepigs (TMT) promised to be a kindred spirit, but it pales in comparison and left me discontented.
There are many similarities between the games; they are both narrative games with two main characters and the stories are both told whilst communicating through walkie talkies. It is obviously a Firewatch clone.
TMT has a detestable main character in Beth. What an egotistic, spoilt and ungrateful woman. Throughout the two and a half hours I played this game she shocked me on several occasions with her unbelievably selfish comments. The whole story is based around what she wants and it feels terribly unbalanced.
There are many villains in games and I don’t often dislike games because of a despicable character but she annoyed me intensely. The voice acting of the character is also aggravating with her fiercely exaggerated mannerisms and fake demeanor. The problem is that I don’t think she was intentionally meant to be portrayed like this, and I can only put it down to poor storytelling.
From the initial scenes I was asking myself questions about the story. I couldn’t understand why she was inviting him, knowing she jolted him years ago, and she showed no remorse or was apologetic in any way. This set alarm bells ringing and this flagrant disregard for Adam’s feelings continued throughout. It was painful to watch and made the whole game very unenjoyable for me. I think this was just lazy character development.
Every conversation seemed contrived and over exuberant. It just didn’t feel believable and the discussions they had seemed boring and didn’t offer much emotional content at all.
There is a frustrating conversation skip mechanic where the skip button is displayed on screen with a timer after every dialogue. It is too quick to use and just becomes annoying to look at. Even with the subtitles off it still appears.
Occasionally, there is an option to choose between a couple of replies and this often causes chaos with that. It is an absolutely bizarre mechanic to include.
In-between conversations we can do a bit of metal detecting. I was interested to see how this would materialize but it proved to be disappointing also. The detector was cleverly designed which made it easy to find items but there is no enjoyment in locating buried treasure. It became quite obvious that these items were meant to be discovered to drive the story. There is no real challenge, although I didn’t find all the items so I was either too slow or it’s designed to find more on subsequent playthroughs. There is a frustrating element where you can easily leave your metal detector lying around in another field only to realise it’s missing when you go to use it. Although it is easy to find, it is just disheartening to go looking for it when it could just be there for you to use.
The game looks nice and there is a pleasant enough generic soundtrack playing in the background but that is about the only positives I can think of.
The Magnificent Trufflepigs is not a story I enjoyed at all.
The combination of the bad script, delivered by an over zealous actor, and the mediocre metal detecting sequences left me disappointed.
For a narrative based game, with the characters and story being the main focal point, it fails completely.