Donut County Review

Raccoons getting themselves into a spot of danger.

Donut county is a physics-based puzzle game published by Annapurna Interactive and created by Ben Esposito. The premise is simple you control a hole with the goal of swallowing the world… well, not the world but the whole of Donut County! The main attraction to this game is how surprisingly relaxing and satisfying that it is, there is no better feeling than going from a small hole swallowing a can, to a huge hole swallowing buildings and mountains! There is even a level in which you can swallow an entire group cars on a highway, whilst they are trying to flee from you. A game in which you can either switch off and enjoy the satisfaction of destruction or concentrate and enjoy the short but sweet story that is presented.

Getting yourself into a Hole-lot-of trouble!

The story within Donut county presents itself through cut scenes that are separated from the game play, once you complete a mission you are then introduced to a bit of dialogue. There is a lot of charm and character added to these cut scenes, the humour is not intrusive and is sprinkles in for those who are paying attention. One thing that I loved was the struggle with tone of the main protagonists BK, his struggle with gaining what he wanted or helping the friends he had endangered.

The artwork is simplistic, but full fo life.

Instead of simply wanting to experience each new level and the challenge it presents, you find yourself invested in what the developers could have easily just made a throw-away-story. Many puzzle games forget the story and almost add it as if it was a criteria, but that is not the case with Donut County, it has had some thought put into it and it shows. Yes, it is a simple story, but that is not a bad thing. We are introduced to Bk’s motivation to earn his quad-copter, costs him his friends and the people he cares about, leaving him to question. Is a quad-copter worth loosing your friends? I would answer yes, and so would BK, I mean, a Quad-copter just sounds cool!

We learn quickly that the Trash King is using the holes to take over Donut County. The genius is using a video game system (yes those evil video games), to entices his raccoon subjects, like BK to control holes and swallow the town. Targeting all his friends and their belongings, BK is forced to face everything he has done once he is swallowed by the very hole that he/we have been controlling. After almost collecting enough points to unlock his Quad-Copter, Bk realises the damage that he has caused. He then has a choice, does he help the people he has hurt? or does he continue to aim for his ultimate goal?

The characters are charming and add some life to what would be a simple puzzle game, without being just filler, they add weight to the game. What is great about Donut County however, is that even if you remove the story and the characters, it would still work as a charming and relaxing physic-puzzle game. Many puzzle games fail to grab my attention when it comes to the story, probably because the main focus of the game is based on the puzzles. Donut County blends the two aspects together for a rich and fun experience. But nothing is stopping you from completely skipping the story and becoming the biggest hole you can become… That sounds weird.

Grab all the trash (And people) you can!

The game play is simple and more than probably something similar to what you have played before, snake is a classic example, eat more items and get bigger. The difference here is that instead of the challenge (With snake), being that when you get big, you risk damaging yourself. The challenge with Donut County is that, whilst your small, you have to figure out how to grow and then destroy the map. Starting by picking up small blades of grass and moving your way up to the bigger items on the map. With some challenges and puzzles, the game does keep you thinking slightly on how to actually beat the level. Although there was never a moment where I felt stuck, I do not think that is what the game was aiming for, it was never designed to make a person scratch their heads for hours on end. The simplicity and satisfaction is easily gained and that is not always a bad thing. Games do not have to be difficult to be good, sometimes a satisfying and easy game can be really enjoyable!

The music and the visuals are both pleasing also and only add to the experience, the game really hones in on a relaxed environment. Which is contrasted to what you are actually doing within the game, destroying peoples homes and lives. The artwork is beautiful and is complimented by fun maps, that actually make you want to replay them.

Swallowing the achievements

For those on Xbox One the game offers 1,000 gamer score to be earned and it is not that hard to do, with one full play through required and a potential return to certain levels, it is one for the achievement hunters. Like previously mentioned the game is not that long, taking roughly 2-3 hours to beat the entire game and return to previous levels to mop up the remaining achievements. There is a collect-athon achievement that requires you to collect all the items in the game, but if you consider you have to pick up (almost) every item to finish the level, it is easy to do! I unfortunately cannot comment fully on the trophies for PlayStation, but from what I have read they are the same, so the experience should be the same.

The loading screen always got a chuckle from me.

Overall I really enjoyed the blend of story and puzzle presented by Ben Esposito, Donuts County is a game that will give you a few laughs, head scratching moments and satisfactions that could only be found in a Snapchat/Youtube complication titled ‘Satisfying things’. You know the ones!

Donut County is an experience that i would highly recommend, it was enjoyable and the story/visual style really impressed me. The game is fairly cheap, sitting at around £10.47 for Xbox One and is available on all consoles and steam. The game is even available on both the apple and android store, I can see this being a decent game to play on the bus or as you are out doing your thing.

Did i mention the game was satisfying yet? yes? Okay, just checking!

7 Comments

  1. “Many puzzle games forget the story and almost add it as if it was a criteria”
    So it’s not only me who is bothered by this. Good to know 🙂

    I prefer games with good stories, but if the game doesn’t need one, I’m all for omitting it. Give me something that someone has thought through or nothing at all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy you agree, I wrote that line and wondered whether people would just disagree! 😁

      I’m the same, I love a good story, it’s the main reason I game. If the sole reason its there is to check the box, you can always feel it, never works out well. I loose interest quickly in games that do it! 😶

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In my opinion a game needs some sort of narrative, but that doesn’t always mean that it tells a story.

        There are a lot of cool puzzle games out there that tell no story, but still deliver a satisfying narrative. Baba is You comes to my mind. It has a cute artstyle and the world itself could count as a small narrative on its own, but there is no story to speak of. The Witness hints at a hidden story the whole time, but deliberatly forgoes it, which – again – is a narrative element on its own.

        We don’t need stories, we need a good narrative!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You know, I very much agree. I find sometimes i do get hung up about whether the story is any good, without considering if the narrative is good. I suppose personally I can get narrative and story mixed up too much, but it can be easy to do!

        I have not played the witness, I do own it, but its fallen deep into the depths of my backlog. Baba is you is another game that was on my radar but I never got around to it. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      3. To be fair, I do not even know if the distinction between narrative and story can be made from the vocabulary. But the way I see it, the story is what you are told, the in-game reason you’re doing stuff, and the (hi)story of the game.
        Narrative on the other hand is the preamble, it’s how (and if) everything works together. Does the music lend itself to the storytelling? Are the enemies behaving like the game tells you they should? Does the voice acting fit the characters and are the dialogues written like actual humans would say them or are they just here to give you your next objective?

        It’s the stuff I would love writing more about but I find it extremely hard to do, other than such snippets…but apparently other people think the same way, because not many seem to write extensively about it. It’s a shame, really 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s actually a very good way of breaking it down, narrative is something that I aswell only mention in snippets. When it’s actually, like you say, an interesting topic! I would love to read more about narrative design and the choices made within games (the reason devs have made the game the way they have). It would be an interesting topic to consider, let alone read! 😁

        Liked by 1 person

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