I have never played a game like Donut County. It’s undoubtedly inspired by the antics of Katamari Damacy, yet the game blazes a path that the inspiration never even thought to cross.
In the world of Donut County, raccoons reign supreme as the undisputed kings of all things trash. In this dystopian nightmare only one lazy trash panda has the sliver of sympathy needed to save humanity from certain despair in the pit.
That’s no Donut…
Here’s the quick gist of what Donut County is all about. Anti-hero BK is a careless raccoon who is friends with the protagonist Mira. Throughout the game BK sends “Donuts” to different citizens of Donut County. These donuts are the holes that raccoons use to collect garbage from the citizens of Donut County. However, BK decides to use these holes to level up high enough to earn a quadcopter. It’s a goofy story, but it’s about on par with the king of the cosmos destroying all the stars and needing to rebuild them.
…and it’s Certainly not a Katamari
There are clear parallels to Katamari Damacy in this game in the fact that each item you pull down into your hole expands the diameter. Even creator, Ben Esposito, has acknowledged in an interview with Polygon that the PS2 classic is his inspiration in creating Kachina — the essential proof of concept for Donut County. However, the core of the gameplay is not just to grow bigger and collect more objects
Where Donut County sets itself apart from Katamari is in its puzzles. Absorbing cats, dogs, humans, the occasional office building, and thunder gods is all good and well, but what does it matter if it’s all mindless? Donut County gives you a reason to swallow up specific items or animals in order to complete certain tasks in a level. This takes a classic puzzle game mechanic and make it work seamlessly in this absurd world of sentient animals.
Have a Garbage Day
I got what I needed from the gameplay to be satisfied, but the wit of the writing caught me by surprise. The mix of face to face conversations and text messages combine to create one of the funniest video game scripts in 2018. There are times that the jokes are a bit sophomoric and the writing voice sounds like that of a high school student. However, it works astonishingly well considering Mira is a young character and BK is a freaking gluttonous oaf of a raccoon. Even each individual item you suck up into your hole has a hilariously written description that you eventually find out was done by one of the raccoons working for the Raccoon King. Combine this with the post-level reminders from Donut County Raccoon Company to “Have a Garbage Day!”, and you have a couple hours long trip of hilarity.
Brief, Yet Filling
Donut County is one of the shortest games I’ve played on my Switch, and I love it for that. It’s a hilarious and fun experience that can be completed before the jokes run their course. This is all tied together with a graphical style that is fun to look at momentarily, but like other aspects of the game, is bolstered by the briefness of the story.
Despite enjoying the ability to quickly make it through the story, I wish there was a free roam of sorts. As much as I enjoyed the puzzles, I still yearn for the mindlessness of Katamari Damacy. I just want to move through a massive open world, sucking up boats, oceans, continents, and planets.
Most of all, I wish the soundtrack would never end. It’s a decently big track list for how short the game is, but every song is so good I just wish it went on forever. Each track is the maximum amount of chill legally allowed in a song mixed with super up-beat melodies that nearly put you into a relaxing trance.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Donut County was provided by fortyseven communications.