Donut County

Submitted by b on Mon, 09/03/2018 - 12:47

I don't really follow the video games media much any more for a lot of reasons, none of which are worth going into here. But I was surprised to be inundated with a weird little game called 'Donut County' the other day that looked interesting to me, partly because it resembled a dream I had a long time ago (hey, I've had worse excuses to buy a video game).

The game is about... well, it's kind of hard to say what the game's about without spoiling the whole thing (such as it is), but the gist of it is that you have control of a hole that you can move around the playfields, and anything smaller than the hole gets dropped in. Gather enough things and the hole gets bigger. Gather all the things and the level ends. Then you get a cutscene. Then you play the next level. Seems pretty intriguing on the surface.

But once I got into it, I had some problems.

For instance, it's hard to know when you're done with the level. Sometimes you have to collect everything in a level, sometimes you just have to collect the plot coupon, which is incidental to collecting enough stuff to get your hole big enough in the first place. It's never really made clear when you get into a level.

In between levels you get some cutscenes that are passable, and I'm probably showing my age here, but the characters talk to each other over some kind of tablet application and in person. When they are in their tablet application, they have the required IDK, LOL, and et cetera in their chat boxes. That doesn't bother me much. But they also say IDK and LOL when they're talking face-to-face with each other, which seems out of place and didn't make much sense to me (maybe kids do talk that way to each other when adults aren't around).

The characters in the levels (there are usually only a handful) don't do much of anything except maybe avert their eyes when the hole comes near them, and usually they don't even do that. They just sit there motionless while their world is slowly devoured by an insatiable and ever-growing hole in the ground. Even when the hole comes to get them, but isn't quite big enough to swallow them, and they just end up falling over and laying on the ground patiently awaiting their fate.

Additionally, the levels are really short, and the game is over pretty quickly. I bought the game, downloaded it, and finished all of the levels in the span of about two hours and change, and I was able to get all the trophies in about another half hour. I would have probably been able to do that quicker, but there's no way to skip the dialog boxes once you've read them before, so you have to slog through them every time you want to attempt a level. Oh, and since there's no 'retry' option, you have to quit out to the main menu and pick your level again if you want to start the level over again if you screwed something up, or (more likely) that your current level is unbeatable for some reason.

I ran into a few bugs, and a couple of them made levels unbeatable. One level gave one of the plot coupons wonky physics and it zipped off the map somewhere I couldn't get to and was uncollectable. In another instance, I was playing around with the catapult and managed to get a plot coupon on the other side of a screen transition where it was uncollectable. And in yet another instance, I quit while the game was in a loading screen, and after sitting at the title screen for a few seconds, I was taken into the next level anyway.

Since my free time is increasingly limited as time goes by, I can appreciate any game that can be played in short bursts, especially if that game is fun. And this one is short. But it's kind of bland. For a game that has such a good idea, it stops before it has a chance to get going. I'd say that I wanted 'more', and that's true in a sense, but what I really want is 'better'. There's the germ of a good game here, but it's so boring and short that it feels more like a demo than a full fledged game. At least it's cheap, I guess.