The Wholesome Direct showcase had a whole lotta games once again, but one that really stood out to me was Paper Trail, because it looked and felt quite different. I've already elaborated on the key wholesome themes this year being witches and plants, and Paper Trail is neither of those. It is origami and puzzles. There's a very cool free demo out now too, so you can see for yourself.
Paper Trail's world is a 2D one of separate pieces of paper. You're able to "see the other side", and can fold each sheet in from its sides or corners to make new paths or reveal secrets. It is firstly very lovely to look at, and secondly very tactile to play - you can almost feel the paper slipping as you pull at the world.
It is thirdly pretty blood difficult, actually - at least, way more so than you'd expect from the nice colours and round little people of the world. The first puzzles are teaching you how you can fold locations back on themselves to find new routes through or around obastacles. But then you find pressure plates that you need to roll a rock onto, and the rock is all the way over there on an inaccessible cliff. Or stones with domino markings that you can walk on only if they're connected to another stone with the same marking. Or doors that need a key to open. Where is the key?? Oh god this stage is made of five different bits of paper that all sort of connect!
In the trailer you can see later levels have a sort of M. C. Escher approach to physics and gravity, which won't make any of this any easier...
All this 2D origami puzzling is in service of a story. The main character, Paige, is trying to get to university to start her first semester. Apparently the route there involves magic caves and weird castles and stuff. I just had to get a train.
Paper Trail is out next year, and Wishlistable on Steam right now. The demo won't be kicking about forever, though, so give it a gander while you can.
Not E3 2022 is in full-swing - see everything in our E3 2022 hub, as well as our complete round-up of everything announced at Summer Game Fest 2022. Many more big game showcases and streams are still to come this summer, so make sure you stay up to date with our summer games stream schedule.