I set myself a New Year’s Resolution to play at least thirty games on my backlog this year, not necessarily to 100% completion, but certainly to finish off the main story. The first of the games I chose was one that I’ve been itching to play since it released – and that I didn’t even realise I had until I went to buy it again in the Steam sale: Donut County. It’s a quirky looking game, and that always appeals to me, especially with the absurd humour that the game promised.
I’ve developed a taste for games that are a little off the wall lately. Donut County sits well within that category, as I don’t think I’ve ever come across a game that sees you play as a ravenous, ever-expanding hole that gobbles up everything in its path. You get a couple of upgrades, which include a catapult which allows you to toss certain items back up and interact with the environment that way, but other than that, gameplay is pretty straight forward. It’s fun though, as you’ll always try to find the largest item you could potentially devour, with a little jiggery-pokery to make it fit, and then end up destroying half the level by smashing that object into everything else as it doesn’t sink down to the cavernous void below.
To go with the fun mechanics, there are fun characters as well. Humans, foxes, bears and more all feature and all have tremendous personalities and are extremely lovable. They are quite modern with their speech patterns, occasionally talking in text-speak, which always makes me cringe a little, but the cringe-factor is far outweighed by the wonderful humour in every message. In what other game could you possibly find such a lovable raccoon, who is at fault for the demise of a town? Nearly everything the little almost-hero says will have you chuckling away, especially when he manages to justify just what he’s done.
Graphically, the game is fairly average. I wouldn’t say it’s ugly, but neither would I say it’s gorgeous. It’s clean, bright and vibrant though, and the areas you get to explore and destroy are always extremely well made, littered with scores of fabulously designed items for you to swallow up and enjoy. Each item comes with it’s own description too, and some even have hints for things you can do later on in the game, which makes it really worthwhile going back through the Trashopedia to learn everything you can about the game and it’s contents.
Donut County has a lot of positives, but I did, on two occasions, hit snags. Both of these snags were oddities that were down to strange physics, leaving the game in an unplayable state. It was somewhat understandable with the unpredictable movement of the hole, and with items that don’t quite fit so you end up jiggling the hole and items tend to end up flying all over the place. Despite that, I did get almost to the end of a level – and even the end of a boss fight – and the game stopped because I couldn’t move any items or drop any down the ever-increasing maw of the underworld. When that happens, there is a handy dandy restart level option, but with no checkpoints, it did mean starting from scratch. The levels aren’t overly long but some have a couple of fiddly bits so it can be a bit of a pain to redo everything.
When I mentioned that Donut County has short levels, that wasn’t an understatement. It does feel like, with the mechanics in place, the levels are adequately sized and paced, however you can complete the game – with all the achievements – in under three hours. The game is extremely enjoyable still, but I know that some people will feel particularly aggrieved at paying over a tenner for a game that is on the short side. A few extra levels thrown in, or some post-game that isn’t just an extremely limited exploration level, would definitely enhance the offering though.
The Final Word
There’s a lot in Donut County to enjoy, but it does come at a hefty price tag for what you’ll find in the game. I do still think it’s worth it overall, as it’s a tremendously fun experience. You’ll be hard pushed to find characters more lovable than the ones you find in this game, and swallowing towns whole does make for some weird and wonderful gameplay too. For me, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives – one of which could potentially be put down to user error rather than a flaw – so it’s definitely worth a peek.