Prior to E3 2015, I had a chance to check out a full lineup of indie games that were set to be on display at the show's IndieCade booth. One of the games that left a lasting impression was an iOS game about taking a small hole in the ground and making it bigger and bigger by dragging it underneath objects and having them fall inside. That game was called Donut County.
Over two years later, I encountered Ben Esposito's brainchild again, this time on the PlayStation Experience floor. So I sat down to play it and the same feelings started to wash over me. They were feelings of relaxation, contentment, and amusement over making things fall down a big hole.
One of the big differences between that original 2015 demo and this latest version is that there seems to be an actual narrative this time around. The story of Donut County centers around a mischievous raccoon named BK, who plays around on his tablet and is looking to earn rewards for his efforts. But the game he's playing involves controlling a "donut" on the ground. The donut is a hole that grows in size for every object that falls inside.
Pretty soon, the entire town winds up in an underground cave deep beneath the surface, all having wound up there because of BK. The story unfolds with BK also inside the hole and everyone pretty miffed over his nonsense. The demo stages recount how the town all wound up inside the donut's hole.
The idea of Donut County is relaxing, with the mechanics as simple as things get. The idea is simply to move a hole around with the left analog stick. The objective is to get everything on-screen inside the hole, so the puzzle is in finding objects that fit inside. The more objects fall into the hole, the bigger the hole gets and the more it's able to take in larger objects. It's a game that feels therapeutic, with the difficulty minimal and the chaos at its maximum level.
The stages all mostly play out the same way. There's the title screen with the delivery duck, which sees players drag the hole underneath the title screen's letter and the duck's moped. There's the neighbor's house, filled with fragile pottery that all shatters as the hole knocks things over. And there's the ranger station, where wildlife scrambles around until the hole inevitably claims them, too.
Donut County looks like its well on its way to being a complete story than it did two years ago when it looked like a standard iOS puzzle game. It comes across as a fun indie game and one that'll be a lot of fun to relax with either at home or on the go. It's set to release in 2018 on PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, and iOS. It's currently not set to come to PlayStation Vita, where this would make an ideal bite-sized experience, but hopefully publisher Annapurna Interactive will be open to the idea of bringing this game to additional platforms.