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Wholesome Direct 2024 – some of our favourite cosy indie games from this year’s show

This year’s Summer Games Fest bonanza might have been a bit of a flaccid affair, but the indie showcases continue to knock it out of the park. Following strong showings from Day of the Devs and Devolver, Wholesome Direct has now stepped up with its own offering, this one explicitly focused on games at the cosier end of the spectrum. And there was plenty more good stuff to be found – from beautifully animated tales of loss to slice-of-life glimpses into Indian culture, from whimsical cosmic toy boxes to quirky record store management adventures.

We’ve highlighted some of our favourites from a very busy Wholesome Direct below, and you’ll find the full showcase here. Keen-eyed observers will doubtless notice some crossover with the recent Day of the Devs stream, so rather than duplicate titles that already appeared over there, you can read about them – and check out a whole bunch of other promising indies – elsewhere on EG.

Wholesome Direct 2024.Watch on YouTube

Tiny Bookshop

Tiny Bookshop trailer.Watch on YouTube

If it’s a temporary escape from the stresses of modern-day life you’re after, an existence of pleasantly low-key quietude can be found in Tiny Bookshop – an “ambient narrative management game” in which players take charge of a tiny second-hand bookshop by the sea. You can explore the scenic coastline of Bookstonbury-by-the-Sea, befriending its locales; you can expand your range of books with new genres to satisfy all tastes, even customise your mobile shop with items you discover while roaming the coast, each affecting your sales in different ways. Neoludic Games’ Tiny Bookshop arrives in 2025 and a Steam demo is out now.

Été

Été trailer.Watch on YouTube

Été, from developer Impossible, is all about flexing your creativity in the heat of a Montréal summer. It’s described as a relaxing painting game made for people who love exploration and creativity, and sees playing – in the role of a budding painter – freely exploring the open-ended the city and capturing its everyday wonders on canvas. There are new colour pigments to find on your travels, and each new discovery in the city is turned into a 3D sticker that can be used when assembling your own works of art – whether you’re creating them as commissions for the locals or to hang on the walls of your own fully customisable art studio. Été, with its water colour-inspired art style, looks gorgeous, and it launches for PC via Steam on 23rd July.

Rooster

Rooster trailer.Watch on YouTube

Rooster, from Sticky Brain Studios, is a “heartfelt, story-rich” adventure inspired by ancient Chinese culture. It casts players as the titular (and loutish) rooster, who – after a particularly chaotic party – is sent back in time by a dragon to learn some lessons in humility. What follows is an “emotionally rewarding tale about family and love” whisking players through 12 mechanically varied stages – incorporating everything from tower defense to dating sim, but all bound by the same appealing hand-drawn art style – inspired by the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Rooster launches for Steam

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and consoles early next year.

Pine: A Story of Loss

A Story of Loss trailer.Watch on YouTube

Pine: A Story of Loss follows a grieving woodcutter as he attempts to rebuild his life after the death of his wife. It’s a lovely looking thing, its striking hand-drawn animation conveying an entirely wordless tale as the woodcutter spends his days in the couple’s forest home, collecting wood, tending to his garden, and reminiscing about the happy times with his wife – memories that can be carved into wood as the game progresses. There’s promise of puzzles and mini-games alongside the story stuff when Pine: A Story of Loss comes to Steam, Switch, and mobile later this year – and a Steam demo is available now.

Littlelands

Littlelands trailer.Watch on YouTube

Littlelands’ most striking feature is its absolutely lovely presentation, which looks something like Nintendo’s Link’s Awakening remake crossed with the subdued palette of Square Enix’s Octopath Traveller series. Artstyle aside, Littlelands is an open-ended exploration and farming game promising “strange characters and magical landscapes” where players can hunt for treasure, make friends, fish, craft, and more. It’s familiar-sounding stuff, but hopefully it’ll have the character to match its adorable visuals when it eventually arrives on Steam.

The Palace on the Hill

The Palace on the Hill trailer.Watch on YouTube

Set in a fictional India somewhere in the 1990s, The Palace on the Hill tells a “heartfelt story of ambition, struggle, and friendship” from the perspective of a talented teenage artist. As his summer plays out, the boy takes on jobs to help his struggling father; there are villagers to befriend, errands to run, an ancient Indian palace to explore, a tea shop to manage, a garden to tend, food to be cooked, history to learn, and even a little bit of romance. This slice-of-life adventure from developer Niku Games is out today on Steam (Xbox, iOS, and Android versions are also on the way), and a free prologue is available now on Steam.

Ebitapes

Ebitapes trailer.Watch on YouTube

In a Wholesome Direct not short of frogs, Ebitapes set itself apart with a wonderfully chaotic, crayon-scrawl artstyle. But despite its abrasive looks, Ebitapes is aiming to capture a laidback mood, taking players on a “cosy-grunge jam journey” in which amphibian protagonist Ebi and snarky cat companion Zongy explore mellow corners, solve puzzles, and assemble mixtapes from the sounds they’ve recorded on their travels – all in a bid to save the Annual City Festival. Ebitapes, from developers Lilla Turi and Marton Kiss, is so far confirmed for Steam.

Boreas

Boreas trailer.Watch on YouTube

Boreas is all about the sea, putting players into the battered yellow raincoat of a grizzled sailor looking settle down after years on the waves. Boreas, from developer Low Pony, is billed as a “relaxing trading simulation with sea voyages” that takes players from island to island, running errands for locals across an unpredictable ocean. They’ll need to build lucrative routes and look for the best prices as they save for their future, upgrading islands to unlock new goods and quests along the way. Boreas’ big old slice of nautical adventure doesn’t have a release date yet, but it’s set to arrive on Steam.

Wax Heads

Wax Heads trailer.Watch on YouTube

Wax Heads, from developer Patattie Games, puts you in charge of a struggling record store in an adventure about “community, mystery and underdog spirit”. There are eccentric customers to satisfy, each searching for the perfect musical purchase, with “over 50+ records and dozens of musical acts” across the game’s duration. That’s alongside puzzles, various mini-game distractions – from stickers to arcade cabinets – and plenty of “punchy, humorous” dialogue. Wax Heads is coming to Steam and a demo’s available now.

Goodlands

Goodlands gameplay trailer.Watch on YouTube

In developer thegeolojosh’s aggressively pixel-y Goodlands, you’re a dinosaur palaeontologist trying to revive a rundown museum by filling it with carefully excavated dinosaur fossils. To that end, you’ve got a “curated” open world to explore in your cute little truck – its locations inspired by real-world dig sites and each featuring its own geological history to uncover. It all looks suitably daft with bags of lo-fi charm, featuring some wonderfully chunky visuals and a cast of enthusiastic dino pals – so hopefully it’ll scratch an archaelogical itch when it launches on Steam.

Curiosmos

Curiosmos trailer.Watch on YouTube

Curiosmos looks utterly delightful, serving up a “whimsical cosmic sandbox” where players are free to fashion their own solar system by hand – crafting planets, moons, gravity, atmosphere, and even life itself. You can create clouds, rain, thunder, mountains, volcanos, plants, creatures, and even mess with evolution – all rendered in an appropriately adorable art style – and there’s also a looming threat as you work to save your solar system from an insatiable black hole inching ever-closer. Curiosmos is coming to PC via Steam.

Music Power Up

Music Power Up trailer.Watch on YouTube

Music Power Up bills itself as part game, part music production application, catapulting players back to the heady days of the 80s where – amid the booming microcomputing scene – they can start their career creating music and sound effects for the latest era-appropriate games. They can meet other musicians, game programmers, and editors down the pub, at computer fairs, even in electronics stores, and start getting commissions to compose music for various fully playable retro-styled games. The music creation side of things is based around a 4-8 track studio featuring drum box and synthesiser tools that gradually expand as the game moves from the 8-bit to 16-bit era. It sounds like there’s plenty of authentic, nostalgia-tweaking 80s ambience – reviews and useful articles come in the form of magazines, for instance – and it’s aiming to be welcoming for musical novices with pre-made loops, patterns, and sounds. Music Power Up arrives on iOS, Android, and Steam toward the end of this year.

Tukoni

Tukoni trailer.Watch on YouTube

Tukoni is a point-and-click adventure based on Ukrainian artist Oksana Bula’s award-winning book series, which sees players – in the role of the titular forest spirit – embarking on a wordless adventure across a “magical world filled with kindness”. There’s talk of unique characters, captivating puzzling, and item crafting – and the whole thing looks absolutely delightful. You can already get a taste of Tukoni thanks to its free Prologue chapter on Steam, and the full game is set to arrive on PC and consoles later this year.

Monterona


A Monterona gameplay screenshot showing a beautiful player-made diorama of an Italian village.
Image credit: Slava Korolev

Monterona is another new entry in the slowly burgeoning genre of cosy construction tinkerers, giving players the tools to create and decorate dioramas of cute little Italian streets. Here, there’s a story mode unfolding as grandma shares tales of her life – each one unlocking new decorations and characters to use while building – with a sandbox mode and additional community stories to fiddle around with after the main campaign. It’s even possible to share your creations and view other players’ efforts to see how they interpreted grandma’s stories. Monterona – which proudly trumpets “No goals, no pressure” in its description – looks like a wonderfully serene toy, and it’s due to launch on Steam “soon”.

Sopa: Tale of the Stolen Potato

Sopa: Tale of the Stolen Potato trailer.Watch on YouTube

It’s Sopa: Tale of the Stolen Potato’s glorious animation that first catches the eye, presenting a fantastical world inspired by South American culture that’s absolutely packed with character. Sopa tells the story of Miho, who’s transported to a strange land – full of endless deserts, floating mountains, and talking beasts – after entering his grandmother’s pantry in search of a potato for her soup. It’s described as a “captivating tale about the things we pass along”, and as Miho retraces the journey of a great adventurer before him, he’ll solve puzzles, climb mountains, sail through the air, and more – all to a soundtrack composed by contemporary Latin American underground artists. Sopa: Tale of the Stolen Potato, from developer StudioBando, launches for Steam, Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch this autumn.

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