Thursday, August 30, 2018

Donut County Review (PS4)

Donut County is a game where you control a hole that is terrorizing a community and dropping everything and everyone 999-feet below the surface of the Earth. Simply put, the concept is amazing. The execution is spot-on as well as controlling the hole feels great and solving the various puzzles the game throws at you is very satisfying. Unfortunately, there just isn't enough to Donut County to really keep you hooked. It isn't funny enough, clever enough, or big enough in scale to ever really wow you the way you keep expecting it to, which is disappointing because the potential for it to really be something special is very easy to see. For all of the details continue reading our full PS4 Donut County review.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
  • Developer: Ben Esposito
  • ESRB Rating: "E" for Everyone
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Pros: Art style; sense of humor; some neat puzzles; great concept
  • Cons: Not as funny as it could be; too short; too simple
  • MSRP: $13

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As I mentioned above, Donut County is a game about a hole. Or, really, it's a game about raccoons using holes to steal trash. The remote control holes swallow anything and everything and over the course of the roughly 90-minute game you destroy an entire community of anthropomorphic animals in what appears to be the USA Southwest. The concept is brilliant and the writing and sense of humor on display is absolutely wonderful in Donut County.

The gameplay itself is sharp as well. It is very simple - you just move the hole around with the left stick and the hole gets bigger and can swallow bigger stuff as you gobble up bigger and bigger objects (kind of like Katamari Damacy) - and it is just really enjoyable. It feels good to play and the physics of maneuvering different size and shaped objects to get them to go down the hole is well done. There are also puzzles to solve in some levels as well, such as swallowing a campfire to light other things on fire, mixing soup (with a hole, yes), capturing two rabbits in your hole (which then turns into lots more rabbits that make your hole grow exponentially), and other things are all very, very cool. Your hole doesn't just suck, however, as you can also catapult items out of it to solve certain puzzles as well.

My problem with Donut County is that it never goes crazy enough with the humor, or clever enough with the puzzles, or big enough with the scale of the levels to really put it over the top. I kept expecting things to ramp up and more puzzle elements to be introduced or the scale of the world (and, thus, your hole) to increase, but it never does. It is a very casual and subdued experience overall both to its benefit and detriment. The humor, likewise, is delightfully quirky, but not particularly funny. The jokes are like Internet memes if they were written by grandmas.

The presentation, at least, doesn't disappoint. The environments are made up of simple polygons and the colors are bright pastels and it looks great. The world is simple and clean and sharp and you can always tell exactly what you're looking at. The various animal characters are cute and well designed as well. The whole game is very charming and instantly appealing. Donut County's sound is also fantastic with catchy music and cute Simslish mumbling for dialogue.

When you put it all together, Donut County is a very enjoyable, very well put together experience, but one that doesn't quite reach its full potential. I wanted it to ramp up with better puzzles and more interesting and complex levels but it never does. It is all very simple and subdued and too short and I just wanted it to be more than it ultimately is. With that said, I can still say that I enjoyed it overall and I recommend that folks give it a try, but don't expect it to hit a climax because it hits a plateau early on and just sort of stays there.