On Twitter, I've been eagerly watching the development of two different raccoon-themed games. One of these, Wreckoons, still has a while to go before it sees the light of day. The other one I've been keeping an eye on is Donut County, which I finally have in my hands. The goofy puzzle game features a raccoon making holes to steal trash. Does this amazing concept hold up, or should Donut County be tossed into the hole as well?
The game follows a raccoon named BK and his best friend Mira. The two work at a donut shop called Donut County in, well... Donut County. Mysterious holes have been opening up around the county recently and people have been falling into them. The game begins in medias res, with all the characters talking about how they ended up in the hole and their suspicions on what caused it. It's not a very deep mystery, but the great characters and writing really spice the game up. I found myself bursting out in laughter more than once because of one of BK's dumb jokes or a conspiracy theorist's insistence that the world is both flat and hollow. These are some of the most fun characters I've encountered in a while, and I'd love to spend more time with each of them.
At the start of every level, you control a small hole. Each time you swallow an object, the hole gets a little bigger. Your goal is to get big enough to consume a specific object in the level. It's quite simple, and all you have to do is move the hole around to eat things. Sometimes you may have to find angles to cause objects to tip into the hole, or wiggle them around so they fall in. Considering the physics-based gameplay, you can expect some fiddling. There's a real joy in watching something elude you for a while before finally joining the rest of the trash in the hole.
About halfway through, you're given a catapult that allows you to fling objects back out of the hole. Levels will task you with knocking things over or hitting switches so you open up new parts of the level. It's a simple mechanic, but I appreciate that Donut County lets me fling a rooster into a hen house so I can then collect the mass of eggs that pop out.
Each level usually has a gimmick involved with it, something that changes things up for a bit. In one early level, you start a fire in the hole and use the smoke to lift objects into the sky. Another level has a snake sticking out of your hole, and you can use to smack objects around. Quite a few of these are fun and serve as nice ways to change up the game and add more puzzles to it.
Unfortunately, Donut County hits one massive snag. By the end of the game, I never felt like it utilized any of these elements very well. Puzzles are so absurdly easy that I could coast through them without even thinking. Many of the gimmick elements never really blossom out into anything substantial, and you only really get a peek at the puzzle potential behind Donut County. Only the last couple of levels really require any sort of critical thinking, but by then the game is already over.
It really makes Donut County feel like a style over substance sort of game. On one hand, it's a hilarious and pretty zen-styled game where you can zone out for a few hours to just watch objects fall into a hole. On the other hand, there's just not much to really do. None of the attempts to bolster the gameplay go far enough. It really makes too much of Donut County scream "missed opportunity."
At least I enjoyed the sights and sounds. All of Donut County has a super simple art style that just works so well with the game. Each character is lovingly designed and just oozes personality. The game's environments are full of cute little objects, and there's a solid soundtrack that backs the whole thing up. I particularly want to give a shout out to the "mission complete" song. I'm nearly positive it's composed entirely of ducks quacking and dogs barking. It cracked me up every time.
Donut County Review | Final Thoughts
In the end, I'm still happy to have played Donut County. Any game that makes me laugh is a solid game in my book. I enjoyed watching objects fall into holes, even if I wished the game did more with the concept. Each time I saw a quadcopter designed like a raccoon I laughed, then wished the gameplay elements were as good as the visual ones. Still, if you're ready for a creative idea that you can a zone out to, Donut County is a solid choice.
Donut County was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the developer. The game is also available on PC via Steam and GOG and mobile devices.
- Great Characters
- Some Initial Fun Ideas
- Doesn't Expand on its Ideas Enough
- Too Easy