Donut County is a unique game. The idea behind it is a raccoon is using a tablet to control a hole on the ground that swallows objects in the environment, with the hole growing in size after each object swallowed. Its unique idea has seen the game featured at various video game conventions over the years, and its developer Ben Esposito was even asked to talk about the game’s development at the 2015 Game Developers Conference. Unfortunately, a unique idea isn’t enough to carry an entire game.
Before we get into the problems Donut County has, it’s worth mentioning the things the game does well. First and foremost, it has a great look to it, using a colorful, cartoonish art style that perfectly matches the tone. Secondly, the game is legitimately hilarious, and arguably the main driving force that will keep people playing the game is the funny banter between the characters. Each cut-scene feels like a reward because of this, and while having to click through all the dialogue options when going back through the game is a little annoying, at least the writing is top-notch.
Donut County‘s core gameplay is another positive. It may not be quite enough to carry the whole game, but there’s just something relaxing about swallowing increasingly larger objects with a hole. Players are also able to interact with other characters through an in-game messaging app and while they can’t actually choose what’s being said, there is still some player agency to how those conversations play out.
But as we said earlier, Donut County‘s unique gameplay isn’t enough to carry an entire game. Yes, the concept is a fun idea and the game does provide some entertainment, but the gameplay feels shallow. It also has some technical issues, including at least one game-breaking bug that we ran into.
There was one occasion where an object we needed to swallow to continue the game flew out of bounds, and we were unable to get to it. After moving the hole around the area for a few minutes, we realized that it was impossible to continue the level and had to restart the stage from the beginning. This particular technical issue only reared its ugly head once, but running into a game-breaking bug in a game this short and small in scope sticks out even worse than experiencing similar problems in larger games.
Donut County is too short for its own good. We were able to get the Platinum trophy in roughly two hours, and after that’s done, there’s really no reason to return to the game. From what we could tell, there aren’t any unlockable modes or anything like that, so players are stuck with repeating the same stages endlessly if they want to keep playing it.
Donut County‘s short length is a problem beyond how quickly the story can be completed and how little replay value there is. Its short length prevents it from really expanding on any of the ideas it presents in any meaningful way, making the game feel underdeveloped. Later stages introduce some new mechanics like catapulting objects from the hole into the air and manipulating objects in the environment for puzzle-solving purposes, but the game ends before anything truly interesting is done with any of it.
Speaking of puzzle-solving, Donut County is almost devoid of any kind of puzzles or challenge until the very last stages. Almost every stage simply consists of swallowing increasingly larger objects until the hole is big enough to move on to the next stage, and there is no challenge to that at all. The lack of challenge makes it difficult to become invested in anything that’s happening on the screen, as players can usually just move the left stick around aimlessly until everything has been swallowed. Sometimes there are certain objects that players have to swallow first to manipulate other objects in the environment, but this is usually so obvious that it still doesn’t add any challenge or require extra brainpower.
Donut County gets points for its great art style, hilarious writing, and its truly unique gameplay. Unfortunately, as a game, it feels woefully underdeveloped, lacks any kind of challenge, and is far too short. People who are really into relaxing games like Flower may get their money’s worth, but Donut County is likely to disappoint everyone else.
Donut County is out now for iOS, PC, and PS4. Game Rant was provided a PS4 code for this review.