When all you really want is a donut and instead you get sucked into a hole in the ground, then you know your day isn’t off to a good start.
In Donut County, you play as, well, a hole in the ground. And because great things start from small beginnings, you start out as a teeny tiny hole, barely able to swallow anything but scraps and pebbles. But with each new consumption, you get bigger and bigger and bigger, until you’re able to swallow cars, houses, and whole mountains - because hard work always pays off, right?
Now, you might think that there’s really no point in being a hole and that there are better things to do with your time, but Donut County isn’t actually just about that. What I really appreciated about this game is that there’s an actual story to it, even if it doesn’t always make sense. As a narrative-driven gamer, I’ve always put story over gameplay first, and Donut County surprisingly ticked all the right boxes in that respect.
The hole on the ground is actually controlled by a crafty, super-chill, totally likable raccoon named BK, and his job of delivering donuts to the anthropomorphic animals in the land led everyone to fall 999 feet beneath the hollow earth. The dialogue is quippy, the characters are snazzy, and the scenes are hilarious—the game will really sell the idea of this whole thing and make you forget that nothing makes sense.
As for the physics aspect of the puzzle game, you don’t just swallow objects willy-nilly - you have to strategize not only on how to make yourself bigger, but also on how you can tip certain objects to the side so that they can slide into the hole or fit an otherwise smaller gap. There’s some water manipulation too, as well as making use of the environment around you like bunnies biting off a too-huge pumpkin or cranes sipping water out of a plugged hole. You’ll eventually gain the skill of launching stuff out of the hole every so often, making for a more interesting gameplay experience with each new level.
Playing the game on Android is particularly effortless for me, since I really appreciated the fact that you didn’t have to hit a specific button or place your finger in a particular area to move the hole around—all you have to do is drag your finger anywhere on the screen to manipulate the hole.
I also loved how funny the dialogue and the scenes are, and I couldn’t help but giggle to myself like a madwoman each time my hole swallowed an unwitting citizen. In one particular level, I successfully launched a carnival water ride in which the poor innocent raccoon riding the thing slid right down into the hole, but not before having his picture taken like you normally would on rollercoaster rides. I really, really wish I could get a copy of that photo taken moments before that raccoon plummeted to his hole-y demise.
It took me about two hours to finish all levels, and I was left yearning for more when the game ended (there’s even a huge boss fight toward the end, so stick around for that). Underneath all the ridiculousness, Donut County is actually a game about friendship and learning to do the right thing, even if it isn’t always easy. It’s a roundabout way to get the message of being unselfish across. Coupled with the vivid, colourful artwork, funky soundtrack, and simple gameplay mechanics, it’s definitely worth the price of admission.
By the way, each time you finish a level, make sure that you take the time to read the collection of stuff in your Trashopedia, because there are real laugh-out-loud gems in there (e.g. “Chicken: it’s one thing to own a chicken, but two chickens...that’s two things.”).
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