What makes Donut County so satisfying? Is it controlling a hole in the ground and moving it around to consume unsuspecting objects and animals, leading them down a vast pit? Is it watching the hole get progressively bigger until it’s swallowing vehicles, buildings, and mountains? That’s literally the bulk of its gameplay, but it doesn’t matter: with its simple mechanics and cartoony graphics, Donut County is greater than the sum of its parts.
We got our first look at Donut County last year, when creator Ben Esposito described it both as a “joke” and a “physics experiment.” Even in the game’s early stages, we could tell that Donut County was oddly satisfying. This week, Annapurna Interactive had some later levels on display, so we got to see more of the story and, more importantly, consume some donut-eating animals into the gaping maw.
It appears that the connecting factor among those trapped below the surface is that they all ordered a donut from a raccoon-run shop in Los Angeles. There’s some bad blood between the raccoons and other townsfolk, but the connection between the trash-eaters and the free-range hole is still unclear. There’s clearly more to this story than we originally thought, and the scenes in between levels are full of funny dialogue and charming characters.
We found new ways to have fun with physics in these levels, too. For instance, if you consume a fire pit and a few ears of corn, you know what you get? Popcorn! The snack attracts birds, which gives you more to swallow into the Earth, which means the hole gets bigger and can devour even more objects until the level is completely barren. You can also play with fireworks, watching them launch out of the hole to bring more fodder crashing to the ground. No shrub, bird, vegetable, trailer, or unsuspecting resident is safe; the hole will find a way to get every last one.
It’s silly as heck, but who cares when it’s so damn satisfying? Is it a puzzle game? A goofy experiment? It doesn’t matter. Playing Donut County is a soothing experience, perfect for downtime at the end of a long day or accompanying a Sunday morning breakfast of coffee and, perhaps, a donut. Thankfully, you won’t have to worry about meeting the same fate as Donut County’s residents… unless raccoons deliver your pastry. Then you might have a problem.
Donut County is due out later this year for PC, Mac, iOS, and PS4.
Images: Annapurna Interactive