I'm not here for discussions on what "wholesome" means or the limits of its definition when applied to video games. What I am here for is to list every single PC game that was shown at this year's Wholesome Direct at E3 2021. There were a lot of great looking games this year, from bee conservation sims to beautiful puzzle games about putting things in order, to loads of games about witches for some reason.
There were 75 games announced in total, and in order to be somewhat useful, I've grouped them roughly by genre. And while you're here, don't forget to check out our news and other E3 round-ups to stay up to date with this year's big video games Christmas. We've got round-ups for Microsoft's Xbox and Bethesda showcase, the Summer Game Fest, Ubisoft Forward, Square Enix's show, the PC Gaming Show, and Day Of The Devs. Phew. I think that's everything. For all of this year's most wholesome of games, though, read on below.
Puzzle games from Wholesome Direct 2021
- A Little To The Left is a game all about rearranging things into a precise order. Oh my. How could you not be interested in this?? Head to the Steam page if you're undecided.
- Letters is that super nice game about being a pen pal and puzzle-platforming through the messages you send. It's out later this year! Check out the demo on Steam.
- In Behind The Frame, you solve interactive puzzles while guiding an artist's brush. It looks very neat and sweet. Wishlist on Steam.
- Hoa got a new trailer and release date this year. This really cute side scrolling puzzle-platformer has beautiful art and lighting, and will be hitting stores on August 21st. Strong insect and insect-related content to be found on its Steam page.
- A reminder that KeyWe, that co-op puzzle platformer about kiwi birds running a post office, is still coming out (on August 31st, no less!). Looks heaps of fun, if also no way to run an efficient post office. See more on Steam.
- The Gecko Gods is 3D puzzle game where you are a handsome lizard exploring the sort of ruins that will later be almost certainly absolutely fucking destroyed by a PlayStation exclusive protagonist. Confirm I am right via Steam.
- How do I love thee, Unpacking? A puzzle game about unpacking boxes and putting stuff away, but also seeing one person's life change and grow through the house moves they make. You'd be silly not to take a look, via Steam.
- Cloud Jumper is a puzzle game where you embody some kind of monstrously adorable flying tug boat. Coming soon, with a Steam page already.
- LEGO Builder's Journey is a geometric puzzle game published by LEGO (so like, kind of feels like cheating to be in Wholesome Direct? IDK). It does look very authentic and satisfying, though. Catch them bricks on Steam.
- Clawfish is sort-of-a-puzzle game that's out now. You're hanging out at a lonely train station that has a fishing arcade. Reel 'em in!
- In Toodee And Topdee, Toodee can do 2D platforming and Topdee can push blocks around in the top down view. With their powers combined you can solve puzzles! Demo on Steam now.
- A retired palaeontologist collects fossils and solves puzzles in their old garage in Fossil Corner, out now on Steam.
- Build conveyor belts in the right places to run an efficient and problem-free automated donut factory in Freshly Frosted. There's a demo on Steam now!
- RoboCo provides a wholesome sandbox to design and build robots to help humans perform everyday tasks, because we are useless. Coming soon to Steam (presumably delivered by robot).
- The two protagonists in Fire Tonight are trying to find one another while their city is, you guessed it, on fire. Extinguishers at the ready for August 12th, via Steam.
- Shout out to Woodo, a truly beautiful puzzle game about fitting wooden toy blocks into place in a domestic scene. It looks great - I'm just not sure it's coming to PC!
Sims and Stardewlikes from Wholesome Direct 2021
- Snacko plops you into a sweet little town full of 2D cat sprites, as you (a city cat) start a new life in the country. Stardew Valley but all cats doesn't seem like a bad pitch, right? The Steam page is live now.
- Kokopa's Atlas is a new game, a life sim RPG about forging a new home after crash landing on a really nice looking 3D planet. I really like the landscape on this one - see for yourself via Steam.
- Ooblets - The Port Forward Update has just landed in the unbearably wholesome creature collecting/town life game (in early access via the Epic Games Store). It adds a new area, new shops and - gasp - new ooblets!
- Hot Pot For One is a short experience about making way too much food for yourself when you're feeling a bit sad. Big mood. It's out now!
- Still no new release date for Paralives, an upcoming life sim game, but it's coming for The Sims and coming hard - no matter how many popular mods Maxis might remake and release as official DLC. Prepare to be impressed via. Steam.
- It seems the starving artist did not starve, and is here to paint terrible paintings once again in Passpartout 2. I mean, my paintings were terrible. Yours might be good. Nothing else to share yet, apart from that this exists.
- Sally, which is still early in development, is a life sim set on a big airship where you care for the guests and crew. Stardew meets Howl's Moving Castle.
- Soup Pot is described as a "creative cooking game" where you can cook freely using local ingredients in traditional kitchens. Get hungry just looking at it on Steam.
- In Moonglow Bay you're a "rookie angler" and work to grow your fishing skills, relationships, and the fortunes of the titular seaside town. It's planned to release on Steam later this year.
- Luna's Fishing Garden is a really cute 2D fishing game, out on Steam on June 16th. You trade your fish and gradually plant and improve the archipelago you live on. This one looks suuuuuper lovely.
- Amber Island is your make-a-home-in-a-cute-village-that-needs-improvement sim, but the twist is that all the other inhabitants are cool dinosaurs. I wish I was a dinosaur. Similar dino-fans can wishlist on Steam now.
- PowerWash Simulator is out now in Steam early access and really stretches the limits of "wholesome" if you ask me.
- The Garden Path is a slice-of-life sim about the small pleasures of gardening - with a dollop of chill exploration on the side. Out on Steam later this year.
- I'm going to pitch Lonefarm to you as a 3D, first-person Stardew Valley. Also you can drive a nice farm truck. Wishlist on Steam now.
- In Co-Open you head to the local co-op shop on your own for the first time. You can stay on task, or wander around making some new memories. Out now on Itch!
- Loddles are lovely little axolotl-esque creatures, and a Loddlenaut is what you are when you go to clean up the pollution in the sea they inhabit, and look after them. TBD release, but wishlistable on Steam.
Management games from Wholesome Direct 2021
- In Pekoe you run a tea house and make tea for cats. I love both tea and cats so this is a big win for me. Head to Steam for lovely cat pics.
- Yokai Inn is a really cute management sim with a whole host of nice little details. It's about running an inn for spirits and monsters, inspired by games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing - and, I guess, Spirited Away? No platforms or store pages yet.
- In Bear And Breakfast you build and run a forest bed and breakfast, but you are a bear. I genuinely do not need to hear anymore; sign me the fuck up (to wishlist it on Steam).
- Apico is a laid back game where you breed, collect and conserve bees. It looks really cool, and there's a free demo on Steam.
- Cat Cafe Manager is a game where you manage a cat cafe, from humble beginnings with just one feline pal, to cat cafe domination! Coming soon, via Steam.
- Game Director Story is an "unflinching and satirical" take on running development on a big-budget AAA game. It's based on "first-hand accounts from industry veterans" although I'm not sure how many devs are animals in real life. Check out the demo on Steam.
Visual novels and story driven games from Wholesome Direct 2021
- Bird Problems is some kind of story-driven bird-themed sitcom about an anxious canary trying to make friends. I keep singing the title to the tune of Carly Rae Jepson's Boy Problems. Bird fans can head to Steam now.
- We got a new trailer and release date for Lake, that nice game where you run away from your high pressure city job to be a postie in your hometown. Head to Steam in advance of the September 1st launch.
- A new game reveal for We Are OFK, an episodic story game and "interactive EP" about LA millennials forming the named band and texting each other about song lyrics. Take a look at the Steam page to see/hear more.
- Listen, visual novel about friendship and love and connecting with community that is called Please Be Happy... You can't tell me what to do. Demo on Steam.
- Teacup is a "narrative adventure with a focus on exploration". This little frog is having a tea party, and she needs the ingredients for it! Why wouldn't you want to help!? Coming later this year, via Steam.
- I've had my eye on Venba for a while, a narrative-heavy 2D cooking game about an Indian mum and her family, who emigrated to Canada in the 80s. You cook, uncover recipes, and talk. Head to the Steam page for more delicious info.
- The Magnificent Trufflepigs is a game about friendship and self-discovery framed around metal detecting, on a gorgeous sunny day. It's out now on Steam (and we've reviewed it!).
- Princess Farmer is a visual novel meets match-3 puzzles, where you are a magical bunny and farmer. I am not entirely sure where the princess bit comes in. I think you are also one of those. Perhaps the free Steam demo will clear things up.
- Seasonspree's protagonist (a chubby lil' tanuki) can change time and seasons just by walking around their spherical world. Fall in love with those squishy cheeks on Steam.
Action and adventure games from Wholesome Direct 2021
- Follow trailers of light around to explore a strange town that's mostly in shadow in Recolit. By using items to ring light to dark places, you can help out the town and progress through the story. Coming soon; wishlistable on Steam already.
- Here Comes Niko! Less a cry of alarm and more a 3D adventure platformer full of animals saying "heck", aimed at "tired people". See if you're one of those by looking up the Steam page..
- In Mythic Ocean you explore the oceans, and since we know rack all about them it makes sense to say that, you know what, the sea is also full of gods and monsters. Dive into the Steam page.
- Button City has an arcade, but it is under threat from what appear to be the forces capitalism. The story in this low poly, high colour world of adventure and dioramas is about banding together to save that arcade, gosh darn it! Check out the demo on Steam.
- Restore a town in Garden Story by battling the invasive Rot - while also being a rad as fuck little grape - in this little adventure game. Become a grape of wrath via Steam.
- Skatebird, a game where you are a bird and you skate, is coming to Steam and elsewhere on August 12th. Wholesome direct showed off some of the accessibility options for controls - good stuff.
- Tracks Of Thought is tactical card game in which you are a (potentially) asshole ladybird on a train journey, ready to confront yourself and other passengers. There's a demo on Steam right now!
- BattleCakes is a turn-based RPG where your squad is a group of of different flavoured cupcakes. Like an aggressively cute Final Fantasy game where everyone is a dessert. Check out that pastel goodness on Steam.
- In Rainbow Billy: The Curse Of The Leviathan the world has gone black and white, and you recolour it with the power of kindness. The 2.5D animated style looks nice, like a more wholesome Cuphead. Wishlistable on Steam.
- I've mentioned Tasomachi: Behind The Twilight a couple of times before. It came out in April and is a pretty 3D adventure game where you explore a strange, empty town while looking for parts to repair your airship.
- In Frogsong you are a very small frog off on an RPG adventure. You can try a demo on Steam.
- Book Of Travels is a TMORPG about exploration in a chilled out, mysterious world where you're an almost lone traveller. The T stands for tiny - you're not meant to meet many other players. Check it out on Steam.
- In The Outbound Ghost you, an ghost, try to figure out how you died, and come to terms with the fact. It's got a Steam page - I love the 2D ghosties.
- Dreamland Confectionery is a surreal adventure game set in a, well, dreamland full of strange people and creatures. You solve environmental puzzles, and bake. Not planned for release until 2023, but it has a Steam page.
- KreatureKind is a card-battler where you kill 'em with kindness - helping your monster foes instead of harming Them. No store page yet, but slated for PC (and mobile).
- Floppy Knights are warriors summoned from floppy discs (teens: ask your parents, amiright?) to do turn-based strategy battle. There's a beta, and a Steam page.
Photography games from Wholesome Direct 2021
- Alekon, a first person, 3D photography game where you snap shots of big flying axolotls and extremely spherical pigs, is out right now.
- Beasts Of Maravilla Island is another photography adventure game that's out now, this time in third person and set on a mysterious, semi-magical island. You're challenged to learn about the animal species' behaviour, in a kind of Sir David Attenborough way.
- Dordogne is about taking photos of summers spent with your grandmother. Each scene is hand painted on paper, and to be fair it looks really lovely. It has a Steam page and is planned for release later this year.
- Pupperazzi is a photography game about taking pictures of dogs. They're good dogs. Many of them wear sunglasses. Wishlist on Steam.
- Shashingo is a bit different again in that it aims to help teach you Japanese as you capture images of new things. Planned to release "in the near future", via Steam.
Games about witches from Wholesome Direct 2021
- Spirit Swap has some really cool chill music, the soundtrack to match-3 puzzle games with the tagline "cast spells, be queer, & crash the biggest party of the year". Or "be gay, do magic" I guess? I love your dancing frog pal. Go check it out on Steam.
- Witchy Life Story is part being a local village with and making neat potions, part a kind of visual novel about finding a place in a community and getting a date. I love the autumnal colours. Check Steam for more.
- Witchery Academy is a witch student sim where you learn to cast spells, brew potions, and do other life sim things like gardening and home improvement. You also get to customise your cat familiar, which is basically all I care about. Wishlist on Steam.
- One of my most anticipated games for sure, Wytchwood is a really cool 2.5D puzzle game where you play a proper weirdo witch of the woods, collecting ingredients at the behest of a talking black goat who may or may not be the devil. Still no release date listed on Steam, but I am hopeful.
E3 2021 may be over but our memories live on - see everything on our E3 hub. Many more big game showcases and streams are still to come this summer, leading up to Gamescom, so see our summer games stream schedule to stay up to date.