Wholesome Games Direct 2022 Demo Highlights

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There were so many demos announced after Wholesome Games Direct 2022, as covered in our article about the direct which you can read here, and it might seem overwhelming! I’ve gone through each demo, and highlighted just some of my favourites – if I included them all, this would be a dissertation, not an article. A highlight not featured is Lil Gator Game, which was reviewed as part of Steam Next Fest in March, which you can read here.

I have also included whether or not the following demos have: Controller Support, Accessibility Options and Language Options. A lack of any of these options is not a criticism, as they are demos in unfinished projects, and are subject to change. I have included them so if you can only use a controller or need another accessibility option or language, you are forewarned about what is available.

Tracks of Thought

Developed by Tidbits Play and published by Freedom Games, Tracks of Thought is an RPG Adventure title with a lot of charm. You are a little bug on a train, and you are very helpful. The animation of the protagonist reminds of rubber hose animation (think Felix the Cat and Cuphead) and he/she/they is shaped like a friend. Why all those pronouns? Because you get to pick the pronouns, and in the demo at least, it is changeable. Feeling more she than he on the day you’re playing? Switch it up!

Tracks of Thought has a fantastic sense of humour, with the NPCs having a diverse range of personalities, each one making you want to know what they were going to say next. What truly elevated this game to one I need to play upon release is it’s battle system. Instead of focusing on lowering your opponent’s HP to 0, you need to have a discussion with them! Conflict Resolution baby!

You can play 3 cards to influence your argument – the emotional tone, the way you get your argument across, and a special influence card. Each card has an effect on your HP, your opponents HP, or the progress bar. The goal is to complete the progress bar, while keeping both you and your opponent alive. They also use this 3 card strategy to get their point across, affecting the same stats. In the demo there is only one of these battles that I found, but it was enough to get me hooked. Different characters react to the various emotional tones in different ways, and you have to figure out which one is best to use.

The art, the sound design, the writing, the mechanics – there is so much to love about Tracks of Thought. And if you don’t believe me, at time of writing the demo is still available – try it for yourself!

Controller Support: No

Accessibility Options: Backdrop Speed

Language Options: English

Kulebra and the Souls of Limbo

Developed and published by Galla, Kulebra and the Souls of Limbo is a tour-de-force of charm. You are Kulebra, a skeletal snake lost in Limbo. You are unique in this world, because unlike the rest of the residents, you remember what happens each day. After each day, the souls of Limbo have their memories reset – they do not remember meeting you, what you talked about, they are stuck in a loop of living the same day over and over. This changes as you start to influence their world, completing tasks for them, and unlocking their memories. . You have a journal to keep track of each character and what you have learned from interacting with them. The more you learn, the more dialogue options are unlocked, helping you in solving the puzzles. There is a time system, which can be passed by sitting on a bench, as sometimes you can only learn certain information during a specific time of day. And information is important. Boss battles come in the form of using your knowledge of the level to answer questions from the boss, releasing them from the darkness that has consumed them.

Kulebra and the Souls of Limbo is a 3D adventure with influences from Paper Mario and Día de los Muertos, with a great sense of humour and sense of heart. This demo is long, and still felt too short, because I didn’t want it to end. I was already invested in helping the souls of Limbo, figuring out all its puzzles and learning about the world. I can’t wait to play more of Kulebra and the Souls of Limbo, and if you’re not already convinced, play the demo yourself, and you will be waiting impatiently right here with me.

Controller Support: Yes

Accessibility Options: No

Language Options: English, Spanish

Lost in Play

Lost in Play is developed by Happy Juice Games and Published by Joystick Ventures. Lost in Play is a point-and-click puzzle adventure about a brother and sister on an adventure to find their way home. What hits you first as you start the demo is the amazing animation. The style of the characters is reminiscent of Over the Garden Wall, and reminded me of The Wild at Heart, which are two fantastic sources to draw inspiration from, but Lost in Play is a game unto itself.

Lost in Play is a surreal adventure of puzzle solving in true point and click fashion, with a variety of mini games to break up the gameplay. If you get stuck, you have vague hints in the form of pictures, and I never got stuck on a puzzle for too long (except for the checkers puzzle, that bended my mind, but thankfully my cousin could guide me through it). I fell in love with this game very quickly, loving the animation, the art, the tone, the gameplay – everything. When the end of the demo announced it was out coming out Summer 2022, I got so excited, knowing it wouldn’t be long before I could continue my adventure, and immediately wishlisted it.

The demo for Lost in Play is available now, and the full game is set for release August 10th 2022.

Controller Support: Yes

Accessibility Options: No

Language Options: English, German, French, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Japanese

Terra Nil

Terra Nil is developed by Free Lives and published by Devolver Digital, and it is truly a wholesome game. A strategy puzzle game, Terra Nil is a reverse city builder about ecosystem reconstruction. You are presented with a barren wasteland, and you must build windmills to generate power to fuel your irrigation systems, add bee hives to trees to add bees to the environment, resulting in a meadow biome spreading across the once barren land. This is but one of the biomes you influence into existence. I had to force myself to stop and move on, because I knew I could spend hours bringing this barren wasteland back to life.

It is all the fun of a city building game, but without making strict grey city structures. You get to add greenery and encourage ecology, sometimes spoiling the land temporarily for the greater good – like adding another stream, or setting buildings on fire in order to build an arboretum, showing fire as a force for good, not evil (did you know that after a volcano eruption, the ground becomes more fertile?).

If you are looking for a relaxing wholesome game to unwind with, you could do little better than Terra Nil. At time of writing, the demo is still available.

Controller Support: No

Accessibility Options: No

Language Options: English

The Spirit and the Mouse

Developed by Alblune, a two-person team based in Canada, and published by Armor Games Studios, The Spirit and the Mouse first came to my attention on Twitter, and I was so excited to see it appear during Wholesome Games Direct.

You play as Lila the mouse, bringing kindness and light to the people of Sainte-et-Claire. You have been granted electric powers through an interaction with Lumion, a guardian spirit of Sainte-et-Claire. As Lumion’s powers have transferred to Lila, he cannot perform his duties to help the residents, so Lila must undertake them in his stead! You learn of the wholesome problems of the Saint-et-Claire residents and resolve to fix them, collecting electricity and lightbulbs and playing mini-games with the Kibblins, mischievous energy spirits, in order to get them to assist you in your mission.

Lila the Mouse
Michel’s café of Sainte-et-Claire
A handsome little Kibblin

The art style of The Spirit and the Mouse radiates warmth and comfort, as you explore the beautifully designed French village in order to help its denizens. The demo is of good length, allowing you to try out Lila’s different capabilities as you help an elderly café owner watch the premiere of his favourite TV show.

Coming to PC and Nintendo Switch later this year, the demo for The Spirit and the Mouse is available now, at time of writing.

Controller Support: Yes

Accessibility Options: Colourblind

Language Options: English

Potion Prodigy

The demo for potion prodigy is short and unpolished. But it has so much potential. This 2D point and click game is being developed by one person – Katie Wright. Katie Wright developed Potion Prodigy as part of their bachelors degree at London South Bank University, and this project has me entirely charmed.

The demo covers the tutorial, where you clean up your small witchy studio. The art style of the opening part of the tutorial is stunningly charming, with great depth. A lot of attention was put into the detail of each asset (there’s even a cat!!!). I said it was unpolished because as you progress, you can see that the models are not finished – the art style is lost, with blocky objects taking their place. But that’s okay! It’s a demo! And by one person as part of their college degree! The fact we got a glimpse of what the art style WILL be is enough to let you know how beautiful this game will be when it is complete. How the rectangles on the floor that are currently just slabs will turn into earthy fully grained wooden planks, how the empty picture frames will one day have beautiful scenery.

Potion Prodigy, and Katie Wright themselves, has so much potential. It got a few mere seconds in the montage segment at the end of Wholesome Direct 2022, and I wanted to ensure that there were more eyes on this little game by telling you – download the demo. Follow Katie on itchi.io. Keep an eye on this little game about creating potions, because it has so much potential, and you don’t want to miss out.

You can download the demo here.

Controller Support: No

Accessibility Options: No

Language Options: English

And those are my top picks from Wholesome Games Direct 2022. Did I miss out on any of your favourites? Let us know!

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