Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Donut County (Switch)

As with many games I had played I was intrigued by the premise of Donut County from a teaser trailer, due in part to its art style and interesting gameplay involving controlling a hole. Though the game had been on my radar, I got more serious about playing it once physical copies for PS4 and Switch began to be distributed via iam8bit. I missed my chance to snag a copy through them, however a local Best Buy in my area still had copies for the Switch, so I obtained a copy in the interest of having some form of entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic. After finally getting to play it, the game met my expectations, though there was a bit more to it than I initially thought.

BK, a raccoon, runs a donut shop in Donut County with his friend Mira. BK makes donut deliveries with a mobile app, with the goal of reaching Level 10 in the app in order to obtain a quadcopter. The story then cuts to various residents of Donut County, alongside Mira and BK, stuck underground as they share stories about how they ended up there, the main culprit being BK.

While short, the story has enough depth to it that you get to learn a lot about Donut County and its various residents. Each character feels unique from each other in terms of their personality and relationships, allowing them to stand out from one another. This also works its way into the level design, themed to the character and their place within the story.

The main form of gameplay is a bit reminiscent of the Katamari Damacy series. In this case though, you are controlling a hole that sucks up objects, with each object increasing its size. Some things increase the hole’s size faster than others, such as sucking up a pair of rabbit in a few levels. There’s also a small puzzle element in some later stages, often involving filling up the hole with a liquid or taking advantage of a catapult upgrade later in the game. Objects you suck up are also entered in the Trashopedia at the end of each stage, with humorous descriptions written from the perspective of a raccoon. One thing that bothered me a little though was that, in the transition from PC to console, you still have to navigate menus by way of a cursor, which felt a little awkward at times.

How the troubles begin.

While there is some amount of challenge to the game, one part where there wasn’t much of a challenge for me was the final boss, though it’s not necessarily the fault of the game designers. While I’m not an avid viewer, this section of the game was featured in an episode of the Disney XD series Player Select (a series based around badly-edited clips of YouTube Let’s Players and Twitch game streamers, most predominantly jacksepticeye), played by the YouTuber Markiplier. Because I happened to see this a while before getting around to actually playing the game, whatever challenge there might have been was sort of robbed from me, though otherwise that section was well-designed.

The art style of the game is very graphic and stylized. The more minimalist direction is utilized such that characters still retain a unique silhouette and can be recognized from any angle. While this approach allows the various characters to pop out more, this sort of backfires a little bit with the plot-important raccoons. While the two most prominent ones are BK and the Trash King, the only thing that distinguishes them is that Trash King wears a crown, while other raccoons are seen wearing different types of hats or none at all. This was handled in a way that you still knew which one was BK, however this was something I couldn’t help but notice.

The music is also good in fitting with the art style, with one of the more memorable tracks being the end-of-level music. In lieu of voice acting, dialogue is represented with a set of noises different for each character, done in a way that didn’t become annoying.

While short, Donut County is an interesting game in terms of both visuals and gameplay. The hole mechanic is utilized in a way that it doesn’t stagnate at any point and displays a lot of potential with said mechanic. The game probably isn’t for everyone, though it’s very easy to pick up and play and is worth giving a chance. It may also make you want to eat donuts shortly afterwards.

No comments:

Post a Comment