Forgive, me, because we’re about to “dive into” some game material from the past. All the way back to the year 2018. Which isn’t really that long ago, making the sentiment of that sentence nearly arbitrary actually. Donut County is on its fourth year after release, and I’ve been meaning to play it for about half of that time. Why did I wait so long? I have no idea, but anything that was offsetting about it has vanished from any of my pre-conceptions. Donut County is a hilarious, strategy-based game from Annapurna Interactive, a publisher of some really good indie games.
It’s simple. You live in a city ruled by raccoons. As a plotline, the raccoon king has enabled his followers, including the main character named BK, the ability to create portable holes on any patch of ground–to capture anything sitting around to supplement trash scarcity. Each level provides a puzzle and a contribution to the plot. Today I played through the whole game and enjoyed what’s possibly one of the most clever indie ideas out there.
So with this new experience, this new knowledge, it’s time to look beneath the surface of one of my new all-time faves, Donut County.
Platforms: “PlayStation 4, Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Macintosh operating systems” according to Google.
What the Heck is Donut County?
So, everything in Donut County progresses like a flashback. After a brief intro and the first level, you find yourself trapped in a cavern beneath the surface with characters from all across your neighborhood. It seems that BK had taken it upon himself to destroy everyone’s houses and consume them along with it. Although BK ends up redeeming himself, he’s pretty much guilty of utter impulsive carelessness and is eventually tasked to right the wrongs he’s committed. Overall though, he’s not as bad as you’d think, and I enjoyed his character.
The way the game works involves moving a hole around the level and collecting more and more low-poly three-dimensional items. (Think of the old black circle gags bugs bunny would slap on a surface to jump into. Same idea here.) Each time you capture an object the hole grows and you can move onto a bigger object. Eventually, the hole grows so big that you are able to collect buildings, boulders, and mountains (more-or-less.) If you’re having trouble picturing this, I recommend watching the video below.
While you’re working on this objective, the game goes back to the neighbors in the cave between levels. Each character shares their part of the story with everyone so that they can try to piece things together to escape. BK is incredulous about all of this blame but is eventually revealed as the culprit. This back and forth banter is actually quite amusing and encourages the enjoyment the silliness of the characters in the game. No soggy britches in this game, despite the seriousness of the plot. Everybody is pretty calm actually, except for BK’s best friend, the human girl Mira.
Some Thoughts on Coziness in Donut County
I love the low-poly, colorful, cozy art. This game might very well be considered a cozy title actually. Combat is very limited to a silly–but not unchallenging–boss fight at the end with the very “stinky” Trash King, however, it’s based on a cartoonish premise. There’s no real hard reality that Donut County is based on. This is pretty obvious when a fly-by of the city shows “Raccoon” in big Hollywood Letters on the mountainside. I really didn’t want to deal with anything too serious when I played it, so I really enjoyed it. It also means there’s nothing to get nervous about here, no existential metaphors or anything (although you could probably find some on materialism if you wanted to). Personally, I think Donut County is best enjoyed by taking your time and enjoying the puzzles. There is tons of strategy involved though, especially toward the end. If you get stuck, you can always restart the level.
As a writer, I spent a lot of time admiring the dialogue in this game. It takes some gumption to write something funny in a totally new type of context and then cast it into the critique of the gaming community. The conversation in Donut County are rock solid though, and if you don’t at least smirk, your heart is cold and empty. No offense.
Features of Donut County
- A unique mechanic involving… holes.
- Delightful color scheme and kick-butt art style.
- Hilarious dialogue.
- Compelling storyline with a great ending.
- Cast of cute, mostly-animal, characters, and a human too, Mira.
- Puzzles that encourage creativity and satisfying gameplay.
- 6-Years of focused game development before release.
- Index of all the objects collected with picture, name, and hilarious descriptions.
- At least 2 hours of rewarding playtime, depending on your strategy.
How This Game Makes Me Feel
There’s something to be said for pre-2020 games. Yeah, the ironic narrative of the last decade’s light-hearted peril is still gasping for air in this culture. But c’mon: donuts, animals, campy dialogue, and ragdoll physics making pastel stuff fly all over the place. This is my motivation for playing games.
So, in conclusion, if you’re looking for a fun, light-hearted, indie game, check out Donut County. If you need to, it’s currently found on PC Game Pass and virtually every platform on the market. I always try to remind myself that there’s not really an actual “indie” category of game theme, but there are quirky, funny, and overall good games. See how far the rabbit hole goes. You deserve some donuts. There’s plenty in this one.
Thank you once again for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. Dang, this was a fun one. Every once in a while I throw a forecast out there for how many reviews I’m doing each week, and the answer here is around 3 a week right now. Whether or not I can follow through is debatable, but I’m super motivated for this kind of thing right now. So, stay tuned, stop back, read some more, leave a comment, just have fun and enjoy the game. There are many.