Donut County | game review
Simple and silly.
Game summary: Raccoons have taken over Donut County with remote-controlled trash-stealing holes. You play as BK, a hole-driving raccoon who swallows up his friends and their homes to earn idiotic prizes. (Xbox.com)
I have to admit that there are a lot of visual styles that don't appeal to me at all, with the omni-present, overly-cartoony style that seems prevalent these days putting me off a lot of animated shows, many of which I'm sure have great stories and characters - I just don't want to watch them because the visuals will put me off. It was a similar case with Donut County, which took me a long while to want to try, even with it being 'free' on Game Pass.
Fortunately, I was in the mood for something simple and silly recently, which fits this game to a tee - seriously, "simple and silly" could easily be a subtitle for the game. That game summary up top isn't entirely accurate, but I think it's about as close as you can reasonably get with a summary for a game with a story this surreal - it would probably take just writing out the plot to fully explain what the hell's going and you can easily find that elsewhere.
What I will say about the summary is that it does leave out another gameplay mechanic - other than swallowing things with a hole - which is spitting stuff back out again. You do this to interact with the environment and solve simple 'puzzles', which is pretty much always just breaking larger objects down so the hole can swallow them along with what you ejected out in the first place.
And that really is it in terms of gameplay for Donut County: you move from location to location and swallow everything with a hole, occasionally shooting stuff back out so you can swallow even more. It's not the most complex game in the world, but there is something pleasingly satisfying about trying to position a larger object just right so you can swallow it up and finish off a location.
On its own, this simplicity could make the game feel somewhat repetitive, but I really enjoyed the characters and the sense of humour the game has. It's all very silly, but the game seems to be aware of that and plays up to it without ever crossing the line into annoying - for me, at least. There's some jokes that will probably make you groan, but everything's all so good-natured, that you probably won't care all that much.
Donut County's biggest flaw isn't just the simplicity, which means its not much of a challenge to beat, but also just how short it is - making said challenge of beating the game even easier. In one sense, the short length is a positive as it doesn't outstay its welcome and means the very silly humour doesn't drag on and become grating.
On the other hand, I don't feel like I'm ever going to want to play this game again - certainly not for years anyway. It's so short and so simple that I think it would get very boring, very fast unless the humour really works for you - it's definitely the sort of game that you need to forget about almost entirely before playing it again, so it can be a pleasant surprise rather than a boring repeat.
Donut County is a short, silly game that's a lot of fun to play unless you're the kind of person who takes yourself far too seriously. It's really simple for anyone to pick up and play too, with only two real gameplay mechanics to speak of, so it's not like it's a difficult game to finish either. Saying that, the simplicity does almost work against it, as there isn't any real reason to go back once you've finished it.