No matter the medium, comedy is hard. Setting out to be funny usually ends with either a corny mess, or some hyper edgy nonsense, which is usually a hard turn off for me.
With comedy being so subjective, it’s no wonder that it is such an underserved area of gaming. Well, fear not, because Donut County is hilarious.
Donut County is a game where you play as a hole. After spawning on a map, you, as a hole, try and make everything on the map fall into you. Everything you suck up makes you a bigger hole, Katamari Damacy style, enabling you to grab bigger and bigger things until everything succumbs to your dark, cavernous depths. Certain items affect your hole, empowering you to solve some small puzzles. For instance, you might imbibe a campfire, allowing you to turn corn into popcorn and attract nearby birds for you to sentence to life within your expanding pit. Hopefully, they don’t fall into the campfire.
As far as gameplay goes, that about sums it up. Eventually, you get an upgrade to toss things out of the hole, but there really isn’t much else involved in how you move your hole around the map. You would think that’d be a major knock against the game, but Donut County thrives in its simplicity. Going through a map and eating a myriad of junk is oddly meditative in the same way that cleaning a messy room or clearing out lines in Tetris can be. It never wears out its welcome, mostly because the whole game is about two hours long.
The story goes that a group of raccoons has moved into a colourful town, mostly inhabited by anthropomorphized critters, with one taking over the local donut shop. BK, the new raccoon proprietor of this shop, starts a delivery service, because the worst thing about donuts is going out to get them. However, whenever someone orders a donut, BK sends them a hole. This is all told through clever dialogue and genuinely funny interactions between the townspeople and the troublesome raccoon as they sit far below the surface. The story explores some themes very lightly, like being a good friend and what to do about that raccoon you hang out with that keeps throwing stuff down holes, but never really preaches.
The music is phenomenal, going from soft melodies to weird indie jams that may have some funky quacking noise in it. It suits everything perfectly, and really captures the fun, carefree nature of the game. The music pairs well with the soft, colourful visuals. Colours are muted, and angles are exaggerated, giving everything a quirky, surrealist feeling, making all the ridiculousness feel right at home.
I’ve mentioned the clever dialogue already, but that is far from the only laugh players will find. Every item you throw into your mischievous hole goes into something called the Trashopedia. The Trashopedia is where BK describes these objects from his cynical, garbage loving perspective. Tires are gloves for cars, and bees are clearly hyperactive and kiss their mother’s butts. Upon capturing a series of lizards, he describes what he would do if he too had sticky feet, and it may haunt me for the rest of my life.
Donut County’s biggest downfall is its length. Two hours is extremely short, and really left me wanting more. Not because there wasn’t variety in the simplistic gameplay – there’s even a bizarre boss fight towards the end – but because I wanted to play more of it. While most games would teach you to solve a puzzle than have you solve that puzzle, again and again, Donut County is efficient with its design to a fault. I would love to see this game expanded in downloadable content, or even with player created levels just to feed my hole habit.
Additionally, it could be argued that it may be overpriced in relation to its length, but I found the experience and innovative design to be well worth the asking price. If you can find it on sale, then Donut County is a must buy. Otherwise, you may want to make sure that its brand of humour is up your alley before you make the decision to experience one night of holes, raccoons, and funky music.