For a game reviewer, games fall into three basic categories: there are games that are fun to write about because they’re good, there are games that are fun to write about because they’re bad, and there are games that are just meh and aren’t much fun to write about. This last category is the one Truffle Saga falls into. It does too many things well and has too many cool ideas to be shovel-ware, but it also has too many issues to be a lot of fun.
Truffle Saga puts you in control of a dog named Truffle who must destroy mushrooms by throwing acorns at them. You throw acorns the same way you slingshot fowl in Angry Birds, except you don’t control how hard you throw them. You even get a white dotted line showing the path of your most recent throw. Unlike Angry Birds, which gives you multiple airborne critters to shoot your enemies into green bacon, Truffle Saga only gives you one acorn per level.
At first the only obstacles are sticks and leaves, so all you need to make your shot count is good aim. After a few easy levels bouncing nuts off leaves, you’ll have to learn more tricks. There are flowers that eat your acorn and spit it out, bees that act as trampolines, and monsters that swallow your acorn, ending the level. Those of you who want games to make sense are not going to have a good time. These challenges add depth to the game, but unfortunately they also cause it to fall apart. Some of these extra elements require you to use awkward touch controls, especially the bouncy bees. To make matters worse, Truffle Saga suffers from a common AAA game trap and forgets what kind of game it is. There are a few levels that are solved by moving a bouncy bee around the bottom of the screen like in Breakout. Fortunately, you can skip levels by tapping an onion icon in the corner of the screen.
My other major problem with Truffle Saga is that its ads are really annoying. Paid versions on other platforms may not have them, but I played the Android version on my Droid Razr HD. There were many times when a new level had just loaded and I tapped the screen to throw my acorn, only to be thwarted by an ad that popped up just before I touched the screen. I eventually got sick of this and turned off my WiFi, but then the game kindly informed me that it had also fallen into the AAA trap of requiring a constant Internet connection.
Like most mobile games, Truffle Saga has a three-star ranking system to increase its replay value but with an interesting twist. Each level has three gems to collect in addition to the mushrooms, but after finishing the game you’ll be challenged to play each level four times, collecting a different number of gems each time for a crown. It’s a great design choice because avoiding gems is often trickier than collecting them.
Truffle Saga has some interesting puzzles and a clever way to add replay value, but I can’t recommend it because of its awkward controls, intrusive ads, and genre amnesia. If you can live with those things, you can get it on Steam, Google Play or the App Store.
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