If I was to ask you to picture a generic vision of a cat burglar, what image would you have in your mind? Black woolly hat, dark mask over the eyes, a black and white stripy jumper and dark leggings? This is how I would picture it! I find it both amusing and strange that one wild creature in particular matches this in both looks and personality, and that’s the bin dipping, thieving animal known as the raccoon. This sneaky character takes a pivotal role in the amusing indie game Donut County. An odd and whacky title that will leave you confused, smiling and giddy with delight.
Developed by Ben Esposito and published by Annapurna Interactive, this unusual game looks similar to The Untitled Goose Game. This single-player experience has you reliving the moments when BK runs amuck. He digs up holes in the ground, dragging the people and their belongings to a new subterranean existence.
Donut County is weird as hell.
Whenever I switch on a game and sit for the first 10 minutes not knowing what is going on, I know I’ve either hit gold, or it’s absolutely terrible. Fortunately for me, the latter happens rarely. Donut County soon turned into an amazing gaming experience that I think everyone should try. Essentially, it’s a game all about holes! You go from stage to stage, starting each one as a small hole. As you swallow more items, your circumference increases and the objects you inhale become sizable. The aim for each level is to clear it of each object, starting from the smallest to the largest. This is it. Nothing fancy and certainly not challenging.
You may think “that sounds terrible, where is the fun in that!” Well, let me elaborate. Each stage has a back story, it explains the reason the hole is there in the first place, and as the game evolves, the stories get more extreme. Alongside this, the levels of wanton destruction soon become unimaginable. You smash up people’s yards, houses and businesses for the sheer hell of it. Its destructive shenanigans, and I loved it.
A raccoon, his best friend and a trash king.
The imaginary town of Donut County is populated by some odd characters. None more so than BK the raccoon who runs the local doughnut store, and his best friend Mira. BK has become obsessed with an app that allows him to earn points to win prizes. All he must do is deliver doughnuts to the people of Donut County. He needs to get enough points to go from level 9 to 10 and then he can afford his Quadcopter Drone. Unbeknownst to BK his actions are slowly destroying the town in which he lives, he is so unaware that he brags to Mira about his achievements on his app and shows off his new drone when it arrives. Mira snaps with rage and destroys BK’s new toy and sucks him into the new underworld city he has created.
This is where the core of the game takes place. Both Mira and BK argue with the residents of Donut County. Both are desperate to prove they are right, but who will the people side with? The story takes a twist when BK visits his boss TK (Trash King) to ask him to return the people to the surface. Will this be enough to undo his mistakes, or will this odd plot go from strange to weird in a blink of an eye?
Though the stories themselves don’t alter how the game plays out, it gives each level depth, and loosely drives the plot to its conclusion with the Trash King. It sells itself as a puzzle focussed story-driven adventure, and I’d say this is a very loose description for what is effectively a game of mindless destruction. It’s incredibly fun, but it won’t challenge you at any point.
It’s not just about swallowing rubbish.
There is a little more substance to this than just swallowing rubbish. During the latter stages, BK’s hole gains the ability to catapult items. With his new found skill, he can dislodge items and activate switches. This drives you away from simply hoovering up everything in sight, making you look for alternative methods of finishing a stage. It’s still obvious what you have to do, but this extra layer appears at the right time to freshen up the gameplay, and keep you interested for the remaining levels.
As you absorb objects and send them on their way to the trash pile, your Trashopedia is noting down everything that has been swallowed. As you flick between each document, you will chuckle at the silly statements attached to each one. This notebook only serves to emphasise the childish nature of this title and will tickle the most immature gamers out there.
Donut County, is super vibrant.
Like The Untitled Goose Game, Donut County has used a simple art style matched up with a bright and vibrant colour palette. Each world has enough detail to make each object recognisable, but sticks to its cartoon roots nicely. There is a striking difference between the underworld and over-world, and Ben Esposito has done a great job in changing both colour and tone to show the damned situation of the townsfolk. Though like most of the game, it’s presented in a jovial tongue-in-cheek- fashion. This ensures that the lighthearted nature is present at all times.
The audio continues on with the lighthearted theme and takes the weirdness to a new level. A mixture of folk, electronic and upbeat music is heard alongside over the top sound effects. Every stage has its own audio that matches its unique look. Some rely only on sound effects to show its character, and others have the music blaring out accompanied by the destructive holes. The audio does wonders to support the oddness of the story and is one of the key elements of the game.
How difficult can it be to control a hole?
As most of the game involves you being a hole in the ground, it’s unsurprisingly easy to control. The movement is smooth, easy to control, and the only complex moment comes when the catapult is added. Even with this additional mechanic, there are no issues and it’s a joy to play.
If you love destroying things, then you’ll find that Donut County has some replay value. Yet, I fear most gamers will have little to no reason to want to return. Once the game is finished, there is no NG+ mode to make you want to play, and the achievement list is earned through natural progression, mostly. You can complete this in one sitting and you will need to set around 3 hours aside if you want to have the 100% status.
Is the havoc worth it?
Is it worth ruining people’s homes for some dirty Trash King raccoon? Probably not, but it sure is enjoyable. The core concept of the game is childish, as is most of the dialogue, yet it will attract gamers from all genres. Free to play on Gamepass and only £10.74 to buy outright. This is a title that I recommend, and you can buy it here! Donut County is an excellent, albeit short game that will make you chuckle. Its mindless and destructive ways will not test you, but it’s enjoyable to lose yourself in for a few hours. Who will you side with, Mira or BK? Jump into this colourful world and help deliver some doughnuts to the people of Donut County!