During PSX 2017, we had the chance to sit down with Annapurna Interactive to check out a slew of titles that are coming soon to PS4. By far my favorite of the group was the strangely fun Donut County. This game showed off a hilariously self-aware trailer, which gives you an idea of the tone of its main narrative.
Donut County sets you in a small country town as a hole that wants to devour everything, and I mean everything. Plants, pools, cars, houses, and even entire rock formations. Each level that I played gave the simple objective of eating everything onscreen, which is a little tougher than it may sound. Also, here's your heads up that this preview is going to sound really weird the more I describe the game.
You see, Donut County is similar in gameplay design to the free browser game Agar.io where the more you eat, the bigger you get and the bigger items you can eat. At the start of each level, your magnificent bottomless hole is very tiny and only able to consume other tiny items like plants and small rocks. As you eat more and grow in size, you can consume bigger things until you've wiped the area completely empty.
It is a surprisingly fun concept that is addictive in execution. The physics behind Donut County are realistic enough to assist in the gameplay. There were times that a pool or something was far too long to fit in my hole, but when I just slightly tilted it over the edge, it was able to fall straight down. It's impressive how such a simple concept could be utilized in smart ways to actually challenge the player to think.
There was one level, in particular, where there was an extra puzzle on top of the normal eating mechanic. Snakes were loose in the area and I had to raise the snake danger meter by releasing more of them before I could access the last few things I needed to eat. This required me to think outside the box and use the hole to complete other puzzles first like unscrewing a pole.
This preview gave me a lot of hope for Donut County even though your own real mechanic is maneuvering the hole with the left thumbstick. However, the more I previewed it, the stranger it felt on PS4 due to its simple controls and short levels. This isn't the kind of experience that I want on my TV at all. I would much rather play it on a handheld device like Switch, or my phone.
While the representative there told me that the team is exploring other platforms, PS4 is the only one confirmed at this time (though other sources say differently). Whatever the case may be, my hope is that Donut County can make it to a platform more suited to its bite-sized chunks (forgive the pun) of gameplay. Regardless, it is something really special. I found myself laughing out loud at just how bizarre it felt to play and can't wait to see more of its oddly charming characters, too.