It is almost too tempting to go down a hole of bad puns in order to explain what Donut County is all about, but I will most definitely try my best to keep these words as wholesome and informative as possible. After all, this is a game that at its core is a whole lot of fun.
(pause for artistic break)
Ben Esposito’s six-year-in-development physics puzzler will immediately feel familiar to fans of Katamari Damacy, but it’s a leaner and more deliberate one of those. Instead of pushing a ball around, you are remote controlling a hole which increases in size for every piece of trash, tree or unsuspecting animal it encounters. You, as a Racoon, do this for a reason of course, but touching on more of this poses a huge risk of spoiling the fun. Suffice to say that you end up in the hole yourself, and there are confrontations to be had.
Combining the act of solving each scene with amusing intermissions of story-telling reveals a 2 hour experience that has literally more under the surface than you would perhaps assume. Though simple, Donut County is a game that has things to say about stuff. The conversations and texts that pushes the story forward are all well written and pretty funny at times. It’s easy to mess up texts in particular, but nothing here feels strained or forced.
The act of controlling the hole is pretty straight forward. You guide the hole with your thumbstick, and common sense along with a big dash of physics takes care of the rest. Minor puzzle elements are added in later scenes where you can catapult objects out of the hole to further manipulate the environment, and occasionally set fire to things. I don’ think the game would a suffered a lot by either using these more, or adding a couple of similar mechanics to lightly spice up a couple of more levels.
Donut County does not in any way overstay its welcome, it might even dip a toe into the short side of things, but what you get is pretty great. The cartoony art oozes of witty charm and the style lends itself well to the concept and characters. The soundtrack composed by Daniel Koestner and Ben Esposito is absolutely terrific (and avaiable on your favorite streaming service).
All in all, I’d say that Donut County is not just another hole in the ground. Get it? Hello?
This copy was bought by yours sincerely. The game was played through to completion and later platinumed.