Wholesome Direct: Our favorites from the Cozy Games Showcase
Sometimes you just need a game to be a comforting little refuge from the stress of, you know, everything. Enter the genre of cozy games, sometimes called wholesome games. These low-stress experiences are meant to be relaxing and friendly escapes. And that’s what the Wholesome Direct storefront celebrates. It’s like herbal tea is a video game. This year’s Wholesome Direct introduced dozens of new games, including four you can play or try right now:
- Freshly frosted
- Melodyssey (demo)
- Mind Swap (demo)
But there were a lot of exciting games besides those. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite and most anticipated games from this year’s Wholesome Direct. Find out why we can’t wait to get cozy with these cozy games.
I’m not particularly good at platforming, which means there has to be something really special to get me excited about playing it. That said, I’m incredibly excited to try Chicken Journey. The sweet and silly game follows a hen as she searches for the answer to a question as old as time itself: which came first, the chicken or the egg? Needless to say, I’m very curious to find out the truth and solve all the cute little puzzles in this game. –Jessica Howard
The abundance of “E3” offshoots such as Wholesome Direct is a great opportunity to stumble upon new games you didn’t even know existed. For me, Fall of Porcupine is one of those games. It’s immediately reminiscent of Night In The Woods with its 2D art and autumnal palette, and while it seems to deal in the same way with drama and dark humor as its predecessor, it replaces quarter-life crisis and storylines. urban dead ends with a comment. on a failing health system. I have no idea what actual health system he may be criticizing, but I’m glad to find out. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a stack of medical bills flickering like late-game Jenga on my microwave. -Marc Delaney
I’m simply mesmerized by Melatonin’s whimsical, minimalist art style – which is probably the point since the game is all about dreams. In Melatonin, the fun begins when your character falls asleep and is then greeted by quirky fantasies and funky, chiptune music. You then engage in your dreams – whether they’re eating hamburgers or hitting alarm valves with a baseball bat – timing your actions to the beat of the music. With each dream featured in the trailer very different from the one before it, it looks like Melatonin will be filled with mini-games guided by fun music, and I’m really excited to try it out. Melatonin is coming to PC and Nintendo Switch on September 16, 2022. –Jessica Howard
As one of the most hyped games shown during the Wholesome Direct, you may not need an introduction to Ooblets, but just in case – and, admittedly, because I can’t m I can’t deal with it anyway – here’s why Ooblets is so great. Think of it as part Animal Crossing, part Pokemon, but after cleaning up the occasional clunky violence from those big series. It replaces creature-vs-creature fights with adorable dance battles. It replaces the genre’s ubiquitous fishing mini-game with “the hanging sea” where you snatch craft items out of the water, not living things. From top to bottom, Ooblets scratches all the itch that comfortable gamers would expect to find, but it does all that by recontextualizing problematic bits and pieces from similar games into something universally commendable. -Marc Delaney
Paper animal RPG
“Roguelike” has become shorthand for a certain set of game features, usually for run-based games that let you keep certain upgrades permanent between attempts. Old-school grid-based roguelikes are rare outside of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, and this cute take on the genre seems like another entry. After the monarch of an animal kingdom disappears, brave animal adventurers set out to find him. The trailer teased chicks, turtles, and even a small dinosaur, all rendered in a stylized fashion reminiscent of the Paper Mario series. I definitely have my eye on this one. –Steve Watts
I love games where it feels like there’s some kind of cohesion to what you’re doing, and Potion Permit is one of those games. While just playing town healer would have been quite fun, in Potion Permit you’re also tasked with going out into the wilderness to find the ingredients needed to craft your elixirs, brew them, explore the town of Moonbury, and bond. with its inhabitants. There also seems to be an overarching story where you have to be the one to heal the mayor’s daughter, which adds an “interesting narrative” to the little checklist of everything this game seems to have going for it. Potion Permit is set to release on PC and consoles later this year. –Jessica Howard
Puff Pals: Island Skies
Look, I’m a simple woman. You give me a farming simulator with a soft color palette and character customization, and I’ll give you two big glowing eyes and my whole wallet. Puff Pals: Island Skies offers all of that and more, and honestly feels like the kind of cute Animal Crossing-esque game I was expecting. With pristine “cottagecore” vibes (you can live in a pumpkin house, y’all), tons to do, and coziness that radiates both from the critters you encounter and the cozy farmhouse you can create, it’s one of my most anticipated games from this show – although I’ll be waiting until 2025 to play it. –Jessica Howard
Remember what I said about adorable farming simulators? All this also applies to Snacko. The pixel cat adventure game looks perfect (okay, I’ll stop) if you like games like Stardew Valley, as it lets you explore a new town, build relationships,… attending festivals, fishing, mining, farming and turning an ordinary plot of land into a real home. Snacko is slated for release on PC and Nintendo Switch later this year. –Jessica Howard
Spirit Swap: Lofi bat for match-3 at
Minds have been exchanged and a new demo (limited time!) is now available on Steam
This version has a first look at the story mode of the game: it’s time to meet Mo and Leon!
Play it from June 11-19 and add the game to your wishlist if you like it! https://t.co/I31BO7s1DM pic.twitter.com/YZ3tQCZ0sW
– SNW 💻✨ Spirit Swap: LoFi Beats to Match-3 to (@SoftNotWeak) June 11, 2022
Is it time we admit that match-3 games? They are incredibly fun. While an influx of mobile games may have soured the genre for some people, many of the issues with these games stem from how they’re monetized and, to be honest, their blandness. Spirit Swap: Lofi Beats To Match-3 To, however, seems like a perfect example of how studios can elevate the match-3 genre. With a vibrant color palette, chill beats, a diverse cast of characters, and an eerie narrative that ties it all together, there’s a lot to look forward to with this game. –Jessica Howard
Inspired by the real island of Ōkunoshima (affectionately called “Usagi Shima” or “Rabbit Island” by locals), Usagi Shima combines Japanese culture with developer Jess Yu’s love of soothing simulation games to create a truly lovely experience. The game sees you tasked with being the caretaker of an abandoned island, however, as you start tending and decorating the island, curious bunnies start moving into their home. With over 30 bunnies to befriend (and pet!), hundreds of items to decorate your island with, and real-time idle gameplay that adapts to any playstyle, this game seems perfect for anyone who needs rest, relaxation and bunnies. –Jessica Howard
The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you purchase something featured on our site.