I was tempted to use the cliche ‘So close, yet so far’ for this one, as it really does come very close to being something special. What it ends up being is a just a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, relaxed and enjoying some pretty visuals with some great music. For a short while there though, I though we were looking at the next Katamari Damacy.
You might notice that I mention that classic 2004 game in the intro, but never got back around to speaking more about it’s similarities. Sadly, this ended up on the cutting room floor as I felt that it only spoke to very specific people – i.e. those who had previously played a Katamari Damacy game. Since I’m going for a slightly broader audience here, and those games were now originally released two console generations ago I felt it best to leave it to a simple name check up front. But, what I would have said is this:
If this all sounds vaguely familiar – starting small and gathering up various items to grow ever larger to gather up even larger items, in unique low poly environments, set to a great eclectic soundtrack – well congrats, you played one of the various Katamari Damacy releases. To say that the two titles share a number of traits in common is perhaps a bit underselling it. I mentioned it at the top of this video, but Donut County really does feel like the spiritual successor to the Katamari series in the way that it feels not only inspired by those titles, but in how it puts own spin on things. A quick example would be swapping out the over the top King of All Cosmos’ dialogue, which would feel out of place in any other game – for its own Twitter inspired back and forth. It’s a dramatically different vibe used to contextualize the story – but it’s just as distinct and a part of the experience as over the top absurdity was for Katamari.
There was also one other bit I had to cut, simply because I ended up not having the footage I needed to make my point around how the game has another point at which it seems to realize it made a mistake and tried to walk it back. Specifically the end of level summaries which disappeared in the last half hour because they no longer narratively made sense – return after you finish the game. Those levels get retroactively added to the game summary pages in the ‘Trashopedia’. It’s a small thing, and ultimately why I didn’t go back to recapture footage – but it just added to the sense that the developer knew what worked about this game and still went down this path for the back end of the game.