Donut County Review
I’ve always got a soft spot for one person teams that end up creating a product all on their own, and Donut County is no exception to that. Helmed solely by Ben Esposito, Donut County is available now on PS4, Steam and mobile devices, and it is something that is worth checking out if truly unique experiences are your thing. Just don’t expect to go through this journey more than once, as Donut County doesn’t offer much after completion.
Donut County is certainly one of the most interesting concepts I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing this year. You play as a hole in the ground, and in true Katamari fashion, it’s your goal to make everything on the screen disappear. It’s oddly satisfying seeing a cluttered mess of a plot of land turn into an empty space thanks to your shenanigans, and Donut County doesn’t simply boil down to “make things go in hole”. Sometimes, things go out of the hole, or sit in the hole for a little bit until you move it to another point. Sometimes you’ll even season the hole with various spices. The point is, Donut County takes it’s concept and builds on it in ways you wouldn’t expect. Later levels posed the challenges of using a catapult to launch items out of the hole to hit a switch or to weigh things down, and one level, in particular, involved using a frog to interact with the environment in a whole slew of ways, and its here where Ben Esposito shows creativity as a developer. Coming up with such a seemingly simple idea and turning it on its head it something to be lauded, for sure, yet I did find that as I completed the game that I was left wanting.
No Holes In This Concept
Donut County’s plot boils down to the wacky adventures of Mira and BK, the raccoon responsible for controlling all of the holes. The game plays out in a sort-of flashback, with each resident regaling the group on how they ended up underground, eventually snapping forth into a very entertaining climax. Across each level, new variables get added into the mix that help pose new challenges, but it’s only in the final level that I felt things get fully realized, with you taking down a massive compound room by room, using all of the concepts Donut County taught you. It’s a shame that the concept only really comes to fruition in the final level, as Donut County seems to fly by. In less than two hours after I had started, I was already at said final stage, and the credits rolled a little further after that. Obviously you can’t gripe too much when it’s a sole person doing all the work, and Ben Esposito definitely didn’t overextend with this title, but it’s clear that he had such a command over the concept that I’m disappointed there’s no real reason to go back to the game, outside of some achievements which are reasonably well hidden. Fortunately, at the price point it’s listed for, Donut County is definitely enjoyable enough to warrant at least one playthrough, but don’t expect to get hours and hours out of this one.
Creativity in this industry definitely feels like it’s rarer than you think it should be, especially with how many games come out on a daily basis. It’s why I can recommend Donut County, because it is such a fresh concept that is executed so well. The games aesthetic is super charming as well, reminding me of a mishmash between Night in The Woods and Katamari Damacy, two equally unique games in their own right. The music also gives off a sort of vapor-wave vibe, and is definitely an excellent backdrop to the chaos that BK lets loose in each level. Ben Esposito’s also got one hell of a sense of humor, as the Trashopedia was a joy to go through after each level. All entries are written from the perspective of BK, helping flesh out his character a little bit further than you’d get just through the story events as they unfold. Thanks to Ben, I now look at tents as houses that just easier to steal from, or how popcorn is just corn that got punished. Donut County is a wholly enjoyable romp that can be powered through in an afternoon, but it’s worth going back to try and find some of it’s hidden or not so hidden secrets, even if there are only a few of them to begin with.
***PS4 Code was provided by the publisher***
- Genuinely funny.
- Art-style pops visually.
- Excellent soundtrack
- Unique idea executed well.
- Short, very short.
- Not much in terms of replay value.