Report: Wholesome Direct reveals key "wholesome" themes this year are plants, witches
Wholesome animals trending towards bears and frogs, away from cats
This year's Wholesome Direct featured around a hundred games, and from that, just as bloggers at Paris Fashion Week are able to look at what Versace is slanging down the runway to predict key highstreet colour themes 12 months in advance, we can look at what his wholesome hot and what is wholesome not. Get your wholesome discourse takes prepared, because in 2022 and beyond it's all about plants and witches.
Just like pastels, plants are often a feature of wholesome games, but this year the trend is going all out, and it's giving ecology. While things like Strange Horticulture, or even something like Among Trees were early indicators of this, the combination of everything being on fire and everyone being inside for years has caused a latent interest in nature - and reconnecting with it - to bloom. Games that people started making like two years ago are coming out now, and they've all got plants in 'em.
Slow-burn real time plantventure The Garden Path, due later this year, made sure to check in, and we're seeing a resurging interest in Stardew-likes where growing is the day. But note how we're leaning towards gardening rather than farming, specifically, with Critter Crops, Garden In, or the theme-straddling Garden Witch Life (which looks gorge). Wholesome - Out And About is really doing what it says on the tin, while Snufkin: Melody Of Moominvalley is about finding harmony with nature again. Perhaps the purest expressions of the planty trend comse from Terra Nil (rebuilding a ravaged wasteland) and Lumbearjack (beating the shit out of human-made rubbish, wholesomely).
As for the witches? I have no logical explanation for that, but they're fucking everywhere. I'm super excited for Spirit Swap, as readers of my ramblings last year will note, and we can add Tiny Witch, the very Kiki's-Delivery-Service-looking Mika And The Witch's Mountain, Harmony's Odyssey, Kitori Academy, and Spells & Secrets, along with many others. Basically, if you claim you can't find an unproblematic witch game then you are a liar.
Other trends worthy of note are that our anthropomorphic animals are showing signs of moving away from birds, cats and dogs and towards less domesticated critters. We're looking at bears (possibly for the large pun potential) and frogs, people. Get your cats out of here! It's too easy to make them cute! Go exotic! We're also seeing a fewer food games and more hints of music on the horizon, so watch out for that over the coming months...
To get a proper look at all the games and judge for yourself, mosey on over to the Wholesome Games Steam showcase, where you can find the lineup alongside the Guerrilla Collective games.
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.