Donut County is a game about how ignorance and avarice swallow everything in their path.
Specifically, it is about a hole that opens up in the middle of a charmingly stylized pastel Los Angeles, its circumference growing larger with each person, palm tree, and building that falls into its gaping maw. Donut County has often been described as a reverse Katamari Damacy — the charmingly bizarre game about incrementally rolling up a ball of ephemera until it’s large enough to collect land masses and clouds — but creator Ben Esposito disagrees. “I think it’s more like Katamari,” he says. “It’s about ordering stuff and pathfinding. Your scale defines what objects can go next.”
Also like Katamari, which in later incarnations ends with rolling up a ball so large that it consumes the solar system and devours the sun, Donut County’s central mechanic is destruction. “The only properties of the hole is that it moves and it gets bigger when something falls into it. The hole is made to destroy everything every single time.”
The hole is being controlled by mischievous raccoons that are hungry for trash (and by the player). Their cupidity quickly becomes an existential threat to all of the people and things that define the city, condemning them to a subterranean life at the bottom of the void. It’s not hard to get from there to a gentrification analogy, but Esposito makes it clear there’s a lot more going on in this sweet, savage little game.
While it’s always had a hole at the center, Donut County began its life as a different kind of lacuna: an absence of knowledge. Its original name…