Ben Esposito’s latest game is Donut County, which combines an adorable aesthetic with zany gameplay in which you’re a hole in the ground. With the help of publisher Annapurna Interactive, it launches on PC, PlayStation 4, and iOS on August 28.
Donut County is playful, featuring nonplussed raccoons on scooters and a friendly sherbet color palette. Underneath its benign exterior, it’s also about gentrification and an us-vs.-them mentality. In each level, you control a hole in the ground, swallowing up pastoral small-town America and growing ever larger. First you might inhale some small potted plants, then you move on to an enormous tractor, until finally you’ve consumed everything. The unlucky denizens who fall victim to the hole gather in a cave underground, discussing their misfortune and pointing fingers at protagonist Mira, who works at the local donut shop.
The narrative puzzler seems like a perfect fit for publisher Annapurna Interactive, which has a portfolio filled with creative oddities. It released the award-winning What Remains of Edith Finch and Jason Roberts’ stunning puzzler Gorogoa, and it has Keita Takahashi’s quirky Wattam and Mobius Digital’s time-bending space adventure Outer Wilds coming up.
Esposito has worked on a number of well-known games, including Giant Sparrow’s What Remains of Edith Finch and The Unfinished Swan and the indie horror title Tattletail, which spoofs the ’90s toy Furbies.
Ahead of launch, Donut County’s main mechanic was copied by developer Voodoo.io, which released a mobile game Hole.io where players take control of holes in the ground and swallow up their surroundings. The developer has aped other indie games before, but unfortunately, Esposito and other indies don’t have much legal recourse against it.