BB Reviews: Donut County
How does this indie Katamari-esque game fare? Our favorite flying fox weighs in.
As someone fond of the batty fun of games like Katamari — where you consume stuff, enabling you to consume even bigger stuff, and so on and so forth —the indie darling Donut County interested me. It takes that capitalism-critiquing concept (which this game acknowledges on the nose) and turns it into something far more hole-y, and I don’t mean that in a religious way. The player can create holes in the ground that move around and consume things, upon which they get bigger
The game tells a story of a mischievous raccoon and the town that he destroys and helps rebuild, with absurdly irreverent dialog and story exposition that largely takes place “Nine- Hundred Ninety Nine Feet Below Donut County.” Some occurs through simulated text conversations on a phone that, much to my delight as a duck-raising fruit bat, has a button that quacks.
Later levels in the story add complexities to the gameplay, including being able to catapult certain items back out of the hole. This adds a layer of gameplay complexity not present in the Katamari series. That said, the design of each level is relatively straightforward and short, which often left me wanting more complexity with these mechanics.
Part of this design decision is undoubtedly because it is an indie game made with limited resources. Additionally, it was released on mobile platforms, which often benefit from having shorter, bite-sized bits of content. But I cannot help but feel slightly frustrated by how much it left me yearning for more to each area — admittedly a sign that the gameplay is strong, even if a criticism of level design.
Furthermore, it only took two hours for me to beat the game entirely, rather short for something $12.99 on Steam. The conclusion is satisfying, but the whole experience feels so short for the ambition of the game’s concept.
Nonetheless, the art direction and music are superb and helped do a good job of setting the ambiance of the game. The screen at the end of levels almost reminds me of the mission complete screen in the Saints Row series, complete with crunchy hip hop riffs. The game’s ambiance helps it feel compelling.
All in all, it’s a fun game that certainly felt worth the couple of hours I spent playing it, and being able to enjoy it with my Twitch followers! I find myself rooting for a sequel in hopes that we can see the vision of the game realized on the scale that it deserves.
Can You Eat the Fruit?
Among the items you can consume with the hole are a few pieces of fruit. Whether or not scooping fruit into this strange, moveable hole in the ground counts as “eating” sparks a philosophical debate about what “eating” truly means. Is it simply being engulfed? Or does it require digestion?
B — which is still a good grade. I mean, there are two in my name, after all!
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