***I recommend not looking up videos about this game. Go into the game fresh and open-minded. I have avoided a lot of detail in this review, with the exception of some minor spoilers for the beginning of the game, so as to leave a majority of the experience as a surprise for new players and those who are interested.***
When I decided that I was going to start writing reviews, I knew I wanted my first review to be a super positive one. And I also wanted it to be an intensely personal one. After all, I only get one chance at a first review. So without further ado…
Donut County is an indie video game developed by Ben Esposito and published by Annapurna Interactive. It was released in August 2018 for iOS, macOS, Playstation 4, and Windows. I played the Windows version of the game through the Steam platform. It took me 2.5 hours the first time around to beat the game and unlock every achievement. That being said, I am at approximately 10 hours now. I have played it quite a few times when I am feeling stressed or anxious, because it really helps me to relax and calm myself down.
The premise of the game is that the players control a hole in the ground. The player can move the hole around the playing area to make objects fall into the hole. As objects fall into the hole, the hole gets bigger. To beat a level, the player must clear the playing area of all objects. Sometimes there are things to figure out. For example, the order in which you choose to sink objects and interactions between certain objects are necessary to complete a level. They act like a little puzzle that requires you to solve the problem at hand. But nothing too challenging. While the game is fairly easy and requires very little actual skill (mechanical or timing), it is a simple premise that works great.
The story is absurd and amusing at the same time. It concerns the raccoons of Donut County, who get an app on their mobile devices which can create a hole in the ground (a hole you play as). They use these holes to steal people’s trash (a raccoon’s treasure). But things get out of hand and BK (our lead raccoon protagonist) destroys the entire town, by sinking it into a place called “Nine Hundred Ninety Nine Ft. Below Donut County”. The plot revolves around Mira (BK’s best friend) and the other citizens of Donut County who are stuck far underground as a result of BK’s actions.
There are 24 levels in the game which are re-playable through the level select screen in the menu. Each level tells a story. They are handcrafted experiences that personally relate to how each citizen of Donut County ended up in this sticky situation. The game meshes story, characters, and gameplay into one thing. The game makes me buy into the idea that Donut County is a “real” place because I have no choice but to believe in it and in it’s characters. It’s consistent with itself and nothing feels out of place. Going through each of the 24 levels, I am pulled deeper into this experience. This game has a flow and personality to it that few other games manage to achieve. There are many small things that this game does which make it feel lived in and real.
To further illustrate my point, I would like to talk about one small addition to the game that leaves a huge impact on the overall experience: the Trashopedia. As you play through the game, the Trashopedia fills up with all of the things that fell into the hole. So if you are playing a level and a cardboard box falls into the hole, there will be a new entry for the cardboard box in the Trashopedia. Each item in the Trashopedia has a description. These descriptions are often humourous as they come from the point of view of a raccoon (a trash can is described as the “gold standard”; a picket fence is “usually a good sign there’s trash nearby”).
And that brings me to something else that this game does SO well. Humour. It is incredibly funny. There were several points throughout the game where I laughed out loud. Near the beginning of the game, BK and Mira are texting each other. BK tells Mira to stop feeding bread to her dog. Mira responds by saying that her dog NEEDS bread to live because he is a “certified loaf”. Get it? He’s a LOAF?! It’s quirky and witty. There are many moments like these throughout the game. And I can’t get enough of it. I love it. And while this game is 100% appropriate for kids of any age, there is a bit of adult humour subtly hidden throughout as well.
This game is really something special.
Donut County makes you feel like it’s creators poured their hearts into it. And they did. It is a passionate little game full of life. It’s characters are charming, loveable, and funny. The art-style is simple but gorgeous and fitting. The soundtrack digs into your soul and suits every moment of the game perfectly (“Bird of Paradise” is one of my favourite video game songs EVER). It is a wholly unique and incredible game that must be played to be truly experienced.
BK Squad Forever
Have a garbage day!
9/10 – Amazing