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TOPIC: Underbaked Donut County

Underbaked Donut County 2 weeks 5 days ago #263

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Donut County is an indie game that was on my radar, I think because it was regarded as a quirky title, along the lines of Untitled Goose Story, although Donut County preceded Untitled Goose Story by a year, and then someone I know recommended it to me highly so I gave it a go. Anyway, the two games share a similar aesthetic, and a similar sense of light-hearted naughtiness. In this game you take on the role of BK, a raccoon who supposedly works for a doughnut shop, but when people order doughnuts what he actually does is uses his app to place a hole that the player can move around to swallow up objects. Like a sort of inverted Katamari Damacy, as you swallow up objects the hole gets bigger and bigger.

It's a pretty simple premise, and the first few levels are pretty fun: wreaking havoc on an area by swallowing up everything in sight is oddly satisfying. Unfortunately, there's really not much else to the game. There's an overarching story where all the townspeople are trapped at the bottom of a hole and one by one they recount how BK ruined everything with his app, which sets up each level as you play through the experience they describe. But the story is pretty thin, and the game mechanics don't really develop at all. There are occasional times where you'll have to combine objects that you put into the hole (for example, putting water in the hole first in order to move another object), but the puzzle aspect of the game is extremely basic. There are also some frustrating moments that crop up here and there where it's not clear if your logic is off or if you're just not moving an object to exactly the right position.

The construction paper-like aesthetic and the gentle background music make the game fairly relaxing, and there's some nicely humorous flavor text that comes in the form of the "Trashopedia", which lists every item you've swallowed up and updates after every stage you complete. This is a very short game and although everything is a little better than average, this is definitely a case where the game is quite a bit less than the sum of its parts. A little more puzzles and gameply mechanics and a little more in the way of a compelling story would have gone a long way. It's surprising to me that the game got so much acclaim, apparently including Apple's app store "iPhone game of the year" for 2018, but this was a game I had to play one or two levels at a time because it was so mind numbingly repetitive. As a debut game this is a pretty impressive game, but not one that I can recommend to anyone except for young children or other novice gamers.

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