Donut County Review (PS4)
I’m guessing we are never going to get those donuts, are we?
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Donut County opens up with Mira hanging out on her bed and feeding her dog some bread. She quickly gets a text from a raccoon named BK asking when she’s coming in for work and when she mentions that she hasn’t gotten much sleep due to someone honking nonstop since the rise of dawn, BK promises revenge. By sending some donuts of course! And we’re not talking about the sweet snack. Afterwards, BK reveals that there is a leveling system in the donut business and he just reached level 9 and he’s excited to reach level 10 as he can finally get a quadcopter. So he takes on some more orders.
However, it doesn’t take long for some dread to kick in. We flash forward to a little bit over a month later deep below the surface and while BK did get his quadcopter, Mira destroyed it. The donuts, or holes as they actually are, are also revealed to be the reason why everyone and, I’m assuming, most of their stuff is all the way down here. Effectively ruining everyone’s lives as there’s no way back up and even if there was someone that can climb no one has infinite stamina (and there’s still a risk of the walls not being secure or not have any footholds). BK is adamant that he isn’t the one to blame, despite that not really being the case. And this leads to everyone else to recount the day that they and their stuff got swallowed up after ordering a donut. Having most of the levels you’ll be doing technically being flashbacks.
Gameplay here is pretty simple and easy. You start with a small hole in a section of the level. At the start you really can only swallow up grass tuffs and rocks. But with swallowing these small objects it lets the hole grow. Letting you pick up slightly bigger objects until you’re able to swallow tables, then buildings, then the very mountains and trees that may surround the area. While each level is divided into sections to make it more bite-sized and gives you a clear path to what to swallow up next, the level ends when everything is gone and the only thing left is a big hole.
There are some light puzzles here other than figuring out what you need to swallow up. Occasionally, you’ll come across situations where you need to cause something to happen to continue on or to get more stuff in the hole. These are easy to figure out as you’re eating more and bumping into part of the solution. Like the early snake puzzle where you need to somehow have the snake alert system be in full panic mode and when you swallow up a particular snake, learn that some things interact with the hole differently. Which brings you to using it to your advantage in freaking out the character there. There are different ways the game shows how the hole interacts with certain objects, and tying them into puzzles, as well as introducing a new mechanic before it gets too stale (though, I never thought it did as it did a good job in variety despite how simple it was).
After you complete most levels, you’ll get to see just how close BK is to leveling up now, the character that ordered donuts falling down the hole to where they currently at, and a little Trashopedia button that you can check out before continuing. I really do recommend checking it out every time you get the option to. While this just shows what you swallowed up in the level, it gives some funny descriptions for the objects. Both giving you insight on how BK, and maybe other raccoons in this universe, view all these different objects, characterizing BK as he does sprinkle in some of his conspiracies, thoughts, or wishes, and a reason to actually check it out. I’m not checking it out to confirm yes I did pick up that huge rock, but to see what BK had to say about it.
I won’t spoil the story for you, as hard as it is, but you do eventually find out what really has been going on and get a chance to do something about it.
The only complaint I have, which is minor, is that you have a cursor to work as I always tried switching between options out of habit. Aside from that, some objects are pretty finicky in getting them to move and start to tip over. Even when the hole was big enough to fit it through, some are pretty stubborn and can make it annoying trying to find that one sweet spot. I also did run into a situation where I couldn’t continue, as the next small item I needed flipped onto a platform I couldn’t get to until I was bigger, which caused me to restart the level. Thankfully, it was at the beginning, but it was one that had an aforementioned finicky object.
Donut County is a nice little game that surprisingly surprised me with the story. I actually managed to not spoil myself, as I only knew the basic premise, and I recommend the same for those that haven’t played it already. If you’re someone that is looking for a charming and easy game, whether it’s because you’re not that great with puzzle games or just want a break from hard puzzles, and don’t mind if this only takes about 2-ish hours to complete, this is the perfect one to choose.