Imagine a world full of anthropomorphic animals living peacefully in a quiet town. Now, what if one of those animals came into contact with a game on their tablet, one that caused holes to form in the ground and suck up everything in sight? What if that animal with the tablet was also a raccoon running a donut shop? This is just a peek into the wild adventure that is Donut County.
The stage is set in a dark world, 999 feet below Donut County, where denizens including anthropomorphic rabbits, mice, geckos and more have been sucked down by a hole in the ground. You'll play as BK, the raccoon running a donut shop. You'll meet different kinds of animals in the game, and each sits around a campfire describing the events leading up to the moment they ordered a donut and were subsequently trapped in the hole.
As each citizen of Donut County begins to tell their tale, you are transported to the moment it all went down. You will play as BK himself and, using a small hole in the ground, capture any and all items until there is nothing left of the scene. Using simple controls to move an all-consuming hole around this scene, it consumes a variety of objects and grows in size. From small rocks to crows eating popcorn, or even entire buildings themselves, BK sets out to take all the trash of Donut County and send it to wherever the hole leads. This trash even includes the residents themselves!
As you progress through each scene you are met with a standard completion screen. You see the animal you have just captured, gain access to the updated Trashopedia, and see how close you are to reaching level 10. Once you reach level 10 you will unlock your quadcopter that was destroyed at the beginning of the game.
As for the Trashopedia, it is exactly what it sounds like: an encyclopedia of "trash," or the things BK sucked down into the hole. The Trashopedia is the perfect example of where this game truly shines in the writing and comedy, as every item has its own description and name written by none other than BK himself. This catalog includes many different forms of rocks--some even described to be created by aliens--bowls of soup that BK has decided are perfect for bathing, and trash cans that he deems suitable for housing.
But Donut County is more than just creating holes and sending trash to the center of the Earth. Well, okay, it’s mostly just that, but there is a bit more to it. Some levels have new mechanics to help solve the puzzle of how to get everything into the hole. At one point the game introduces rabbits which, when taken in groups of two, begin to multiply and shoot out dozens of other rabbits to break down larger trash. Or the introduction of rattlesnakes, which when sucked down they will shoot back up with their tail in the air and can be used to move objects out of the way or trigger items to become available for the hole to consume.
The art style of Donut County game is also worth noting, as it is simple and beautiful all at once. The game uses a more pastel-toned pallet for the most part, creating bright, lively scenes. Each character you speak and interact with has their own style that matches their level as well. One of the best combinations of the art style and game mechanics was on a gecko’s level. In this level, small geckos camouflaged themselves into the grass until the hole was placed under them. This is truly one of the most aesthetically pleasing games that I have played this year.
Equally wonderful is the music and sound design in this game. Donut County has a soundtrack I could listen to for hours on end and each level has its own set of songs that fully match the feeling of the environment. In addition to these tracks, there is a variety of menu music that brings together a unique feeling and vibe. In short, Donut County combines art, music, writing and gameplay mechanics to create an experience I have not had with other games.
After playing through Donut County twice in one night I have only one complaint: this game is too short. Now, I’m not saying the length of the game takes away from the experience in any way, I just want to play more of this game already. In total it took me around 4 hours, maybe less, to play the first time around. But overall, the story, characters, music and gameplay mechanics come together in a beautiful harmony to create one of the best games I have played this year. It’s not life-changing, it won’t make you cry and it isn’t the world’s hardest or most challenging experience - but it is phenomenal. If you have the chance, I cannot urge you enough to pick up and experience this hilarious, weird, and, most importantly, fun game. If cute animals, chill music and comedy are your thing then Donut County is the game for you. And if not, well then I guess your best bet is to watch out for raccoons with tablets, because they might just have a donut to deliver to you.
Michelle reviewed Donut County on PS4 with a code provided by the publisher.