Today, Wholesome Games streamed Wholesome Direct 2022 (the third of their annual showcases), which included looks at a massive slate of upcoming indie games. With over 90 games shown back to back, it might feel a little overwhelming to some viewers. If you need a focused refresher (or missed the stream altogether), here’s a list of the 14 most promising games from Wholesome Direct 2022.
In LumbearJack, you play a bear with an ax on a quest for revenge. Jack is on a mission to destroy industrial giant Evil Works and return the land to its natural state. It’s not wholesome in the traditional sense, but I can’t deny that the idea of taking an ax to a massive corporation makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. LumbearJack is being released today.
Paper Animal RPG
Paper Animal RPG is a roguelike inspired by the Paper Mario and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series. The trailer mainly shows off the game’s real-time, grid-based combat system, but also offers glimpses into other mechanics, like cooking and dino breeding. Its Kickstarter is set to launch later this summer.
Soulitaire is a roguelike story game where you play solitaire to read people’s fortunes. As you play, you’ll encounter soul cards with ambiguous illustrations. Your interpretation of them changes the way other characters approach their problems. It has no release window as of yet, but it’s available to wishlist on Steam.
The Spirit and the Mouse
This adventure game stars Lila, a mouse with electricity powers she uses to solve puzzles and traverse the French town of Saint-et-Claire. I’ll just say it: Lila is the best electric mouse in games since Pikachu. I mean, I can’t really think of a lot of electric mice in the first place, but Lila is cute and deserves an award. There’s a demo on Steam that’s available now, and the full game will launch later this year.
A Walk with Yiayia
Returning from last year’s Wholesome Direct, A Walk with Yiayia is a walking simulator about taking your Greek grandmother on a walk. The Steam page promises no fail states, low stress, and micro quests to complete throughout the neighborhood. The story feels very personal, partially because of the contemplative vibe of the trailer, and partly because developer Trent Garlipp heartwarmingly brought his actual grandmother to the reveal. A Walk with Yiayia comes out on Nintendo Switch and Steam on August 20. You can wishlist it here.
There were a lot of games with rhythm elements shown today at Wholesome Direct 2022, but this is the one I’m most excited for. Melatonin is a rhythm game about dreams and reality merging together. It has over 20 different rhythm-based mini-games, each of which takes place in a different dreamy environment. The game also allows players to script levels in a level editor and turn on assists if they have difficulties finding the rhythm. It launches September 16, but you can download a demo from Steam today.
In Freeride, your choices don’t just affect the world around you — they also affect the results of a personality test. Armed with physics-based telekinetic powers, the decisions you make assign you a personality type, and only certain personalities can unlock certain storylines. My urge to play this game comes from the same part of my brain that makes me want to take stupid BuzzFeed quizzes about which One Direction member I am; the difference is that Freeride might actually be an enjoyable experience. It’s set to be released in 2023, and you can wishlist it here.
The trailer said it all — in Frogun, your grappling gun is a frog, and that frog is your best friend. Frogun is a low poly 3D platformer inspired by the aesthetics of the PlayStation and N64 era. A lot of upcoming indie games have frogs in them, but this is the only one where that frog is also a gun. The game will be released on all platforms in 2022. You can wishlist it here.
How to Say Goodbye
Also shown during Day of the Devs, How to Say Goodbye is a narrative puzzle game about processing grief. The player will help a series of ghosts solve their problems by sliding them around a set of tiled levels. One of the developers, Florian Veltman, also worked on Monument Valley 2, and it’s easy to see the ties between the two games. It launches on Steam and mobile devices later this year, but there’s a demo available now.
In SCHiM, you play as a shadow spirit trying to return to its human. The catch? You can only navigate the world by platforming between other existing shadows. It’s a delightfully unique concept that really captures a sense of childlike wonder. There’s no release date yet, but it’s already looking like something really special. You can wishlist it here.
Mika and the Witch’s Mountain
From the developers that made Summer in Mara comes Mika and the Witch’s Mountain, a game where you play as a young witch that delivers mail. This is the second The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker-inspired game the studio is putting out, and you’ll hear no complaints from me. It looks cute, relaxing, and will be released in early 2023. Feel free to wishlist it over on Steam.
Lil Gator Game
You wouldn’t know from the vlog-style trailer, but Lil Gator Game is a movement-based adventure game. You can climb, glide, and slide across the game’s island. On top of that, there’s no health bar, so you can explore without the looming stress of failure. Lil Gator Game comes out on Steam and Switch later this year.
A Frog’s Tale
A Frog’s Tale is basically everything you’d come to expect out of a game in a Wholesome Direct. It’s a pixel art RPG with combat that combines the mechanics of a rhythm game with Paper Mario-style attacks. It also stars a frog named Norman. It will be released on Steam some time in 2023. You can wishlist it here.
Kaichu: The Kaiju Dating Sim
If you’ve ever wanted to kiss Mothra (and who can blame you), then this is the game for you. Play as Gigachu, a kaiju that takes other kaiju on destructive dates in 24 locations around the world. Since all the kaiju are nonverbal, your dates are narrated by the reporters covering your rampages on the news. It’s got a Saturday morning cartoon art style, six eligible kaiju to date, and (I cannot stress this enough) you can kiss a giant moth. Kaichu: The Kaiju Dating Sim will be launched on PC and consoles later this year. You can wishlist it here.
Wholesome Direct 2022 is part of Fanbyte’s Hot Game Summer coverage, where we’re bringing you recaps and commentary on this summer’s game presentations like Xbox’s showcase, the PC Gaming Show, and the all-encompassing Summer Game Fest hosted by Geoff Keighley. If you’re interested in seeing all of Fanbyte’s coverage, check out our Hot Game Summer 2022 hub.