I first played Ben Esposito’s Donut County at a show years ago. At the time I thought, “Wow, this game about sucking up everything into a hole in the ground is really cathartic.” Now, years later, I feel the same way — and actually a bit like the game hits very close to home.
In Donut County, it appears that a raccoon running a donut shop has no idea the kind of power he is tampering with. When his donuts are delivered to customers, they hit the ground and immediately form a seemingly bottomless hole. Players control this hole, moving it around on the ground and attempting to collect everything they can see. Rocks, trees, kilns, kiddie pools, chickens, grass, snakes — everything. Nothing is spared from falling into this despairing pit.
There is some puzzle solving to this as well. Sucking up a kiln makes the hole hot, and this heat can be used to power up and send off a hot air balloon trying to escape your destruction. A large snake that falls into the hole will stick its tail out, and you can use that tail to push buttons and knock over objects in the environment. Each area has a small puzzle to solve, but the result is always the same: total annihilation.
You learn that all objects and people that fall into the hole go somewhere around 900 feet below, where they are convening to place the blame on someone. Hence Donut County’s biggest mystery: who exactly is responsible for the entire world falling into a hole?
As I played Donut County, I was lulled by how cathartic it was to just throw everything I saw down a hole. I played the game with some amount of duress weighing on my shoulders, and it felt good to just wreck everything. But not actually wreck things, just coerce them into falling down a hole. Cleaning up — literally — felt good, and watching everything and all my troubles fall away into oblivion was satisfying. Relaxing, even.
Donut County is a certain game for a certain kind of time. And with so many games focused on killing, eliminating, building, or what have you, it was great to have an experience where you could literally wipe everything away without shedding a drop of blood. And its expanded version for the PlayStation 4 offers more puzzles, more conundrums, and much more sinister donuts,
Donut County with launch in 2018.