Holed on, this is filled with fun
Cleaning can be be a very satisfying thing. And what’s cleaner than destruction? The best way to avoid getting your furniture dirty at home is to have no furniture at all. At least, that’s what I tell my mum when she comes over and all she has to sit on is stacks of this very same magazine, drinking tea from papier-mâché mugs. That’s part of the buzz that feels so good in Donut County. You remote control a hole in the ground that you move around a screen, making physics objects fall into it. The more things you feed your hole, the bigger it gets, until you swallow your main target (who, generally speaking in the story, has ordered a “donut delivery”, not realising the true terror of what that entails thanks to the machinations of BK, the doughnut-dispatching raccoon), and you leave the previously cluttered environment suspiciously empty. (In case that all sounds traumatic, the animals the hole swallow end up sitting round a campfire at the bottom.)
Comparisons to Katamari Damacy, where you play a Prince making stars by rolling things up into a ball of growing sizes, are obvious. Knowing tips of the hat abound, such as in the game’s “Trashopedia”. But where Katamari relished in the interlocking environments and mad arcadey dash to grow big within a time limit, Donut County is exactly the opposite, giving you small, contained stages that require some light puzzle work to clear, but mostly require you to scoop up everything you can see.
Which doesn’t mean you’re doing the same thing over and over again. It’s variation that makes the game worth sticking with as you follow through the light-but-fun tale of a county plagued by holes. Frequently levels add new little twists that alter how your hole works – maybe it becomes filled with water that floats certain objects, spits out flames, or even gets a catapult upgrade that enables you to eject things you’ve sucked in.
Once you’ve solved every level, there’s little reason to go back to Donut County, which is a bit of a shame given a concept that could easily lend itself to joyful repetition. You’ll likely beat the game in a couple of hours, and levels quite frequently feel like they end just as they’re getting started. But it’s a joy while it lasts.