All I wanted was a laid-back metal detecting game on the backdrop of the peaceful British countryside with a sprinkle of flirty walkie-talkie banter. Instead, I got a commentary on life choices, broken ambitions, and small-town UFO folklore.
First-person adventure The Magnificent Trufflepigs (opens in new tab) is all those things and more. Its story focuses on Adam and Beth as they metal-detect their way through a farmer's fields searching for a missing earring. Beth found its counterpart as a child, and has roped in Adam twenty years later to complete the pair.
Playing as Adam, you need to scour a group of fields over the course of a week to find this hidden treasure before the farm gets knocked down. You walk around each field waving the metal detector along the ground and patiently waiting for the machine to start loudly beeping. Not surprisingly, there are lots of random things buried in the farm's grounds. You use a shovel and trowel to dig up treasure like a rusty nail, broken compass, or if you're really lucky, an old coin.
Methodically walking up and down each field might sound dull to some, but Adam and Beth's commentary keeps things lively. Speaking over walkie-talkie, the duo crack jokes about the junk they find, talking about village life and when they were younger. It's very akin to Firewatch in the intimacy between the two old friends, with Arthur Darvil and Luci Fish giving wonderful performances as the duo. The two make conversation out of the most boring pieces of trash and it's endearing.
After a couple of days treasure hunting, the earring is still missing and Beth's frustrations begin to surface. She's in line to take over the family outdoor equipment business (a company that has outgrown its humble beginnings in a small village), she's planning her upcoming wedding, and drives a flashy car.
But still, something's missing. Beth's fixation on finding this earring hides something deeper. There will always be missed opportunities—hidden treasures that will never get unearthed—and Beth can't seem to shake that feeling.
It's a story that sounds awfully twee. But dispersed over the reflective nature of quietly metal-detecting, it's not trying to be profound. The story is as quiet and gentle as its surroundings. England's countryside gets the same romantic treatment as it did in Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, as you'd indeed expect from ex-The Chinese Room lead designer turned Trufflepigs creative director Andrew Crawshaw. The farm is in the middle of rolling hills covered in wildflowers, stone walls, and well-trodden footpaths. It's complete bliss.
If you're a fan of story-driven adventures like Firewatch, What Remains of Edith Finch, and the aforementioned Everybody's Gone to the Rapture then I highly recommend checking out The Magnificent Trufflepigs. Now that my heart has recovered from the story, I'm playing it through a second time in hopes of devising the most efficient methodology to reach my metal-detecting potential.