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There are three truths in Donut County: The world is hollow, the world is flat, and the people are relaxed and happy. It’d be a real shame if you messed that last one up for everyone.
It’s a stretch to say you’re the villain in Donut County, but as BK the raccoon, you’re definitely no hero. Hired at the local donut shop and charged with delivering donuts via specialized tablet app, it’s your job to ensure BK gets enough customer service points to unlock the corporate quadcopter he’s been working toward.
So, in pursuit of that goal, you start delivering donuts, only to learn very quickly that the donuts aren’t really donuts as much as they are gaping holes into the central void of a hollow earth.
The holes move around at BK’s command, ingesting anything small enough to fall inside. With each item consumed, the hole grows bigger and readier to destroy more of the quaint local environment. Objects, houses, and people start disappearing from Donut County at an alarming pace, connected only by donut orders.
BK’s aware, sure, but he’s not concerned. The lives of his friends and neighbors pale in comparison to the allure of a brand-new quadcopter.
From here, the central story of the game unfolds in the form of campfire tales shared by victims of BK’s reign of terror, as our raccoon protagonist himself makes a (poor) case for the good will behind his destructive actions and attempts to instead enshrine himself as a town hero.
At its heart, Donut County is a remarkably simple puzzle game in the vein of classics like Katamari. For most of the game, your job is sweeping the surface of a level for items small enough to fit into a deployed hole, allowing it to grow larger and take in bigger objects. The goal is to consume everything in the level, from the smallest blades of grass to massive rock formations.
Later levels put a spin on the game’s core eat-em-up routine through the addition of simple new mechanics, like a catapult that ejects items or a snake tail that refuses to fall to the depths, but the majority of the game is eating small things now so you can eat big things later.
Up until the very end, the challenge and time-sensitivity of Donut County is minimal to non-existent, but it fits the relaxing vibe the game seems to be going for well. The puzzles are simple and easily-solved, but they’re also fun to complete.
Where Donut County really shines is its dialogue. The game is pretty simple, and the story isn’t particularly complex, but none of that matters, because the characters and their conversations are the stars of this show. BK, his friend Mira, and all of their wronged associates communicate in the mostly-lowercase, emphatically-capitalized, acronym-heavy tongues of internet-borne Gen-Z’ers and latter millennials. Spoken sentences are punctuated with “lol”, and even serious conversations are carried out with the humorous nonchalance of your favorite group chat.
There’s a good chance that a sizable set of people will be put off by the game’s writing style, but those of us who smirk at the game’s cute communication will be reliably entertained throughout. Even the game’s otherwise-boring catalogue of items you’ve ingested is interesting to flip through, thanks to the flavor text laid out in its now-familiar style.
When I review games, I think it’s important to judge titles by how they present themselves. Donut County isn’t a mentally-challenging puzzle game, but it doesn’t pretend to be. The levels on offer are quick and easy, but they’re also relaxing, humorous, and fun. The quality of the art and dialogue remain consistent from start to finish.
A well-designed, well-drawn game that doesn’t take itself, or it’s narrative, too seriously, Donut County is the video game equivalent of your favorite cartoon, for all the right reasons.
Game: Donut County
Developer: Ben Esposito
Published by: Annapurna Interactive
Available for: Windows PC, Mac, Android, iOS, Playstation 4, Switch, Xbox One
Content: Nice 🙂
- Katamari-esque puzzle gameplay
- Relaxing, low-stakes pacing
- Simplistic graphical style
WHAT I LIKED
- Entertaining dialogue and character banter
- Mellow atmosphere
- Short: I played through the whole game one evening in a single sitting.
- Simple Puzzles: While enjoyable, Donut County’s puzzles are never particularly complex, and make use of relatively few diversifying mechanics. Don’t go in expecting head-scratchers.
WHO’S IT FOR?
If you’re a fan of simple, whimsical puzzle games looking for a distraction for an hour or two, Donut County is a worthy contender.
If you’re searching for a more challenging or atmospheric puzzle game, or if you hate puzzle games in general, this one’s probably worth skipping.