Every ‘Wholesome’ Video Game From E3 We’re Most Excited For

E3, one of the biggest gaming events of the year, can be a bit overwhelming

E3, one of the biggest gaming events of the year, can be a bit overwhelming to take in. Gaming powerhouses come together in an attempt to entice us with announcements that will, hopefully, make us react like this:

Basically, everyone wants you to go to Prom with them, and they all have a strong case for you to say yes. 

It’s exciting, but PHEW, it can be a lot to process all at once when the main theme is exciting and high energy. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to see a presentation whose entire brand was wholesome

Sure, E3 has its share of games that slip into a presentation for the sole purpose of making you go awwwww, but to have an entire lineup full of quiet, heartwarming titles? What an absolutely charming idea! According to the website, “Wholesome Games is a community that started on Twitter when indie game developer Matthew Taylor began curating games according to their feelings of comfort, compassion, and coziness. Since then, the community has grown to more than 200k members across Twitter, Discord, TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.” 

This energy was brought to Wholesome Direct on Saturday. Everyone taking part was an indie developer and the entire vibe of the presentation was, as the name said, “wholesome.” 

“Wholesome Direct is an independent, volunteer-run showcase organized by Wholesome Games to spotlight uplifting and thoughtful indie games. Tune in for an hour of exclusive footage, new game reveals, developer interviews, and announcements from 75 wholesome titles.” – Wholesome Games.

While I am absolutely going to list the games I am most excited for (I’m narrowing it down to 20, a daunting task when there are over 70), I highly recommend watching the entire Wholesome Direct video. The games showcased are so creative, the kind of titles that make you feel like you’re getting a warm hug as you play through the game. From soothing cooking games to unpacking memories, walking around the neighborhood with your grandma, and working at a cat cafe, these are games that are certain to put you in a good mood.

Oh, and make you feel things. A lot of things. If you need a good cry there is definitely a game in this lineup for you.

Synopsis: Cast spells, be queer, & crash the biggest concert of the year! Spirit Swap is an action-puzzle game set in a lush, narrative-driven world of witchy demons.

My thoughts: I’ve already sung this game’s praises over here when they knocked that Kickstarter out of the park!

Where to check it out: Website and Steam

  • Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery

Synopsis: Guide brush strokes and solve a variety of puzzles to help an aspiring artist complete her masterpiece amid her brusque neighbor’s gaze and his pesky cat. As her painting starts to take shape, uncover an emotional tale of chance and artistry revealed behind unrelated yet familiar moments.

My thoughts: An art game meant to tug at the heartstrings sounds right up my alley. I’m ready with my paintbrush and Kleenex.

Where to check it out: Steam

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsSfUIzTAlA

Synopsis: You are forced to take shelter in an abandoned inn, and the place springs to life with otherworldly patrons as soon as the sun sets! Yokai Inn is a slice-of-life sim game, inspired by titles such as Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, that is currently in the early stages of development.

My thoughts: I am here for all the otherworldy patrons and daily activities inside the inn and throughout the village.

Where to check it out: Website

Synopsis: Button City is a colorful low poly narrative adventure game about a fox and his friends banding together to save their local arcade! Explore a diorama world, play exciting arcade games, complete quirky quests, and meet cute animal friends.

My thoughts: Saving an arcade with cute animals and one of the arcade games is a clear love letter to DDR (Dance Dance Revolution)? Yes, please.

Where to check it out: Website and Steam (will also be on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 5, and XBOX Series X|S)

  • Letters: A Written Adventure

Synopsis: Letters is a fun word puzzle game about friendship, growing up, and finding your place in life. Follow Sarah, a shy girl from Switzerland, by moving through her pen pal letters and chat messages. Use the power of words to solve riddles, interact with her friends and decide who she will grow up to be.

My thoughts: I can’t get over how charming this gameplay is. Literally moving around words to create pen pal letters? This is such a clever idea!

Where to check it out: Website and Steam

Synopsis: You are alone on a cold, Christmas night, stuck at home, in a foreign country. You get through it by cooking a hot dish intended for six people.

My thoughts: I’m gonna cry over this hot pot, aren’t I?

Where to check it out: Steam

Synopsis: Tracks of Thought is a (self) exploration RPG shaped by your own personality. Confront your fellow passengers in card-based conversations to discover more about yourself and your mysterious destination!

My thoughts: I’m not the best at card-based games but this art style and the characters have me hooked. Also a big fan of games that have you “face yourself.”

Where to check it out: Steam

  • Beasts of Maravilla Island

Synopsis: Beasts of Maravilla Island is a 3D adventure game where you take on the role of a young wildlife photographer who traverses Maravilla Island’s magical ecosystems to discover extraordinary creatures, learn their behaviors, and, most importantly, photograph their majesty.

My thoughts: I know I’m supposed to take pictures, and I will after I get over my initial reaction of “everything around me is beautiful and I’d live here if I could.”

Where to check it out: Website, Steam, and Nintendo Switch

Synopsis: Hoa is a beautiful puzzle-platforming game that features breathtaking hand-painted art, lovely music, and a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere. Experience the magic of nature and imagination as you play the main character, Hoa, on her journey through breathtaking environments back to where it all began.

My thoughts: Beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe this art style. This looks to be one of those games you play when you’re having a bad day and you need something to put your heart at ease.

Where to check it out: Website, Steam, and Nintendo Switch

Synopsis: From indie-pop band OFK: We Are OFK is the story of how four friends came together to release their debut music without throwing their phones at walls in frustration. A making-of-the-band series & Interactive EP about dreaming, dating, and paying rent in Los Angeles.

My thoughts: I’ve been anticipating this game since I saw the band perform during The Video Game Awards last year. I’m ready for a musically, and visually, charged story of a band following their dreams – Black Trans Lives Matter shirt and all.

Where to check it out: Website and Steam

Synopsis: You live and then you die. But at least do it in a nice house! Paralives is an upcoming life simulation game. Build your dream house, create some characters, and manage their lives the way you want!

My thoughts: Yes please give me all of the home decorating games that’ll inevitably touch my heart as I create characters and watch them live their lives.

Where to check it out: Patreon and Steam

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOFIt9JF7B4

Synopsis: Explore a mysterious island as a tiny lizard. Complete ancient puzzles, effortlessly climb cliffs and eat bugs as you make your way across an island civilization lost to time.

My thoughts: Exploring this gorgeous landscape as nature’s unsung hero is all I’ve ever wanted. I feel like I’m going to spend a lot of time crawling around just so I can take in the scenery. I’ll get to the gameplay eventually.

Where to check it out: Steam

  • Tasomachi: Behind the Twilight

Synopsis: Yukumo is a young girl traversing the world in her beloved airship. Upon arriving at a certain town, her airship breaks down. She decides to explore the town to search for parts for repair; however, the town has fallen silent, with no trace of its inhabitants…

My thoughts: Breathtaking landscapes that you get to traverse around via airship? Granted, the ship breaks down at some point, but the areas our protagonist explores look spectacular… even with the somewhat foreboding description about the lack of inhabitants.

Where to check it out: Steam

Synopsis: Indulge in a delicious adventure as you choose to battle or befriend your enemies to save the day your way! Personalize your cupcake hero and meet charming friends along the way. Leave the world better off than you found it in this turn-based RPG.

My thoughts: It’s a turn-based RPG. With cupcakes. No further questions, your honor.

Where to check it out: Steam (will also be on XBOX)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3OWseygAl4

Synopsis: Bear and Breakfast is a laid-back management adventure game where you play as a well-meaning bear trying to run a B+B in the woods. Hank and his friends find an abandoned shack and, equipped with their teenage ingenuity, turn it into a money-making bed and breakfast scheme for unsuspecting tourists. As your business expands so do the mysteries of the forest, and Hank soon finds himself uncovering a plot deeper than the wilderness itself.

My thoughts: I’m a sucker for cute titles and management games where you run your own business. I look forward to turning a shack into a destination spot… as a bear.

Where to check it out: Website, Steam, and Nintendo Switch

  • Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan

 Synopsis: Save whimsical creatures with the power of kindness in order to recolor a black-and-white world in Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan, a wholesome 2.5D Adventure-RPG!

My thoughts: I am immediately in love with this cartoonish art style with a premise that has us recoloring the world with “the power of kindness.” I adore games where your superpower is 100% wholesome.

Where to check it out: Website and Steam (will also be on Nintendo Switch, XBOX ONE, and PS4)

Synopsis: Unpacking is a zen puzzle game about the familiar experience of pulling possessions out of boxes and fitting them into a new home. Part “item Tetris,” part home decoration, you are invited to create a satisfying living space while learning clues about the life you’re unpacking.

My thoughts: A decorating puzzle game where I most definitely spotted some in-progress cosplay? Sold. Also very ready for the onslaught of feels when we unpack for college, for our first home, and other milestones in our lives.

Where to check it out: Website, Steam, and Humble (will also be on Nintendo Switch)

Synopsis: Cook freely with Soup Pot! Make food with a wide range of locally sourced or supermarket ingredients in traditional kitchens. Discover and learn about more than 100 recipes while streaming your cooking on Cookbook, the in-game social media platform.

My thoughts: My tummy is ready. Show me the ways.

Where to check it out: Website and Steam (will also be on XBOX Series X|S)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do9WD_8jkYE

Synopsis: Welcome to Amber Isle – a quaint, friendly village of prehistoric residents who are in need of a new shopkeep. That’s you! Craft and sell items, upgrade your shop, befriend your Paleofolk neighbors and customize the island to bring the village back to life and welcome even more prehistoric pals!

My thoughts: I get to live in a village with DINOSAURS?! Is this the prehistoric Animal Crossing game of my dreams?!

Where to check it out: Website, Steam, and Patreon

Synopsis: Woodo is an upcoming puzzle game with a striking art style inspired by wooden construction toys. “With imaginary friend Woodo, we build tiny things bit by bit, immersed in a calm, peaceful world where time stands still.”

My thoughts: This game is touching my childhood in a way I haven’t thought about in a while. The very definition of a wholesome game, I immediately want to sit and play with these little wooden keepsakes.

Where to check it out: Website and Twitter

Are any of these games on your list? What “Wholesome Games” are you wanting to add to your collection? If you want a nifty list of all of the games that were featured in the Direct you can head over to the website, which has all the games and where to find them!

Yes, I slide in one more, I had to, Venba is literally a homecooked, wholesome meal.

(Image: Wholesome Games)

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