This past weekend, while I was at FujoCon, Wholesome Games dropped their 2021 Direct, spotlighting over 70 amazing upcoming indie games! For those of you that don’t know, here’s a bit about Wholesome Games:
“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.
One of the goals of Wholesome Games is to change how we think about which games are taken seriously. For many years, the most critically acclaimed titles have been the ones with the darkest themes and grimmest depictions of life, but there’s also a whole world of hopeful video games with rich storytelling, innovative gameplay, and beautiful art and sound. We want to be a part of showcasing the breadth of experiences that games can have for players.”
Wholesome Games is out here adding a bit of sunshine and happiness to the world one game at a time, and that’s something I can really get behind! So, I took a bit of time between panels to check out their lineup and there were more than a few games that caught my eye… so I figured why not spotlight some of the games I’m most excited to play! Nothing fancy, just a quick little list of games from the direct that I am definitely adding to my wishlist!
I tend lean towards visual novels and otome games, but I just couldn’t ignore Yokai Inn, a cute Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon inspired slice-of life sim game being developed by Shiba Pixels. The game is still in the early development stages and I’ve never been one for the big sim games (I have enough trouble managing my own life), but I am a sucker for cute pixel art and warm cozy setting. Set in a tucked away autumnal countryside, Yokai Inn has a Ghibli-esque feel to it centering around an abandoned inn that springs to life with otherworldly patrons as soon as the sun sets and you keeping them happy by growing crops, cooking meals, and general upkeep of the grounds. Players can also interact with the various supernatural beings that make their way to your humble inn. It just seems like a cute and relaxing game, and between the hustle and bustle of everyday life I’m looking forward to giving Yokai Inn a play when it’s finally released! The game is still super early in it’s development, but you can get updates from the team over on Twitter or keep an eye on the official webpage. Coming soon to Steam!
I fell in love with Studio Élan’s fantasy yuri visual novel, Heart in the Woods so, when I saw that they were releasing another game—Please Be Happy, which appears to a urban fantasy visual novel. Follow Miho, a fox who makes the journey from her home in the forests of Korea to the much more urban, Wellington, New Zealand. There she meets librarian, Juliet and aspiring novelist, Aspen and suddenly she finds herself wanting to put an end to her drifter lifestyle and finally put down roots. Yuri isn’t really my jam, but after falling in love with Heart in the Woods, I can’t wait to give Please Be Happy a try as well. The art is absolutely gorgeous, soft colors and cute characters… the whole game just gave off warm cozy feels! There is a demo available for PC, but the game has a planned PC, Steam, and Switch release! For more details on the development check out the Studio Élan official site and Twitter page, also, don’t forget to wishlist the game on Steam!
This next game had me with it’s gorgeous visuals and the depiction of a young Black female player character with natural hair (y’all know how I love melanin in my games). Sally is the debut title of Canadian indie studio Lucide Tales, and like Yokai Inn, also draws inspiration from Ghibli, taking place on a beautifully rendored flying ship, Sally. The Wholesome Games Direct showcase only gave us a small peek at this upcoming title, but the Lucid Tales promises to offer an immersive and fun life sim experience similar to that of the super popular, Stardew Valley. Again, I’m not usually one for simulator games (though BlackBelleFlower is slowly changing my mind) but I’m definitely looking to expand my horizons a bit and Sally definitely piqued my interests.
This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about this game and trust, it won’t be the last, because lo-fi beats, melanin, and puzzles always hit juuust right! If you are looking for chill vibes and a heaping helping of melanin in your match-3 games, look no further than Soft Not Weak’s upcoming game, Spirit Swap, which blends together fun matching gameplay mechanics with some light visual novel (possibly romantic) vibes and I am here for it! The soundtrack is perfect, when I played the demo I kind just let it run so I could bask in the chill music! For updates on production definitely check out the team’s Twitter and their official site, also give the demo a playthrough!
I saw this game on steam a little while ago, and while skills in the kitchen are passable, I’m no kitchen wiz… so it’s nice to be able to live out my culinary dreams through video games (and away from fire). Venba is a narrative cooking game developed by Visai Studios, where you play as an Indian immigrant mom, who immigrates to Canada with her family in the 1980s. Players will cook various dishes and restore lost recipes, hold branching conversations and explore in this story about family, love, loss and more. Good food, wholesome family vibes, and a small peek into a culture not often explored in media… SIGN ME UP! If you wanna keep up to date on the game’s progress definitely give the team a follow over on Twitter and check out the official game site.
I’ve seen this game floating around and it is gorgeous, and the hype was even higher after seeing the game in the Wholesome Games Direct. Platformers aren’t my usual jam, but Skrollcat Studio’s Hoa is a vision, with a rich natural world to explore and fun fantasy characters to encounter. The game is pretty far along in development, so we’ll be getting this one later on this year! So definitely give the team a follow on Facebook and add the game to your Steam wishlist! It’s also going to get a Nintendo Switch release!!
There were so many great games showcased at the 2021 Wholesome Games Direct! Which ones are you most looking forward to? Do some of your faves match mine or are there titles I didn’t mention? Definitely let me know your faves down in the comments! And if you missed the Direct, check it out over on the Wholesome Games YouTube channel!