Have you ever jumped into a game sight unseen, knowing absolutely nothing about it beforehand? In today’s day and age with information and videos just a click away, I almost always know at least a little of what I’m getting myself into before diving in. With Donut County I had no idea what to expect. A code showed up in my inbox and I had a few days of downtime so I figured I’d give it a shot. Much to my surprise it’s a wholly unique experience with some funny writing and creative gameplay to boot. I can see some gamers really taking a liking to this one!
The idea behind Donut County is rather simple, and in some ways reminded me of Katamari Damacy, which also just released earlier this month on the Nintendo Switch. You play as a raccoon named BK who can remotely control a hole in the ground. It starts off relatively small, but as you place the hole under different objects it sort of eats them to make the hole grow larger and larger. At first you might only be able to swallow a soda can or pieces of rolled up paper, but before long you’ll devour vehicles, trees, and even huge boulders and houses! Since some of these objects are strangely shaped, they may not go in without a fuss, and that’s where the game’s physic engine kicks in to make the levels even more interesting. Sometimes you’ll have to finagle the object just right to have it begin to tilt and then quickly move the hole to capture the entire thing.
Later on in the game you get the ability to catapult objects back out of the hole. This is where the game really takes on a more puzzle-like approach. You’ll need to experiment to figure out the various stages and how to proceed through to the end. Now, you might wonder why in the world would a raccoon want to swallow up the entire county? Well, there’s an entertaining story behind it all, and you’ll find out all of the sordid details one townsperson at a time. Between each level you’ll read a conversation between the different inhabitants and these are both funny and charming – and sometimes a little long-winded. Still, without the story I feel the game would hold less sentimental value, so I’m glad it’s there, even if it’s a zany rollercoaster of a tale that makes little to no sense.
Playing through Donut County was rather easy, and in fact I only got stuck maybe twice during the entire game where I had to really sit back and think about how to proceed. There’s really no way to die or “Game Over” and the lack of challenge may turn some people away. The gameplay mechanics are simple – maybe too simple. Except for the aforementioned catapult feature, there’s very little in the way of unlocking new abilities and the game is rather straightforward to get through. I beat it in probably two hours, which might be a bit on the short side for some as well.
One of the areas the game excels is in the presentation department. The graphics are rather simplistic, but stylistic nonetheless. They have an almost cel-shaded look to them, with lots of solid colors. The soundtrack is fantastic and is really fun to jam to as you make your way through the stages. On more than one occasion I found myself tapping my foot to the beat and the music simply fits perfectly with the craziness on-screen.
With a simple, but effective gameplay hook and unique audio-visuals, Donut County is something special to experience on the Nintendo Switch. It might be too easy and too short for some gamers out there, but I still think it’s worth the asking price. I had a great deal of fun and it’s one of those “sit back and chill out” games that are so rare these days. If you liked What Remains of Edith Finch or The Unfinished Swan, the same designer is behind this one!
Donut County Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 9/109/10
- Gameplay - 7/107/10
- Lasting Appeal - 6/106/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Donut County is a surreal experience featuring a town filled with talking animals. The gameplay hook is swallowing up objects to increase the size of your hole until you can devour everything in sight! If you liked Katamari Damacy, this one will probably be a must-have.