Here are the cozy games from Wholesome Direct that you can play right now

Break out your blankets and settle in, everyone. It’s time for casual games.

The latest Wholesome Direct showcase celebrates an hour of innovation and relaxation in indie development featuring over 30 meditative, soothing and utterly captivating experiences. Some of the titles are brand new, some are being updated, many have demos, and others just deserve their time in the spotlight. One thing they all have in common is the ability to warm your heart.

The entire Wholesome Direct 2024 showcase is worth watching. It’s full of shiny indie gems and new trailers, and many of the featured titles already have demos available for download. Here, we’ve rounded up four games that came out as surprise drops for the showcase today: Kamaeru: Frog Shelter, POOOOOO, Palace on the hill and Traces of thought. I’ve spent some time playing the first three games on this list, and each one is great in its own way; I’ve left my thoughts with the gameplay descriptions below.

Watch, read, and then play a bunch of relaxing, wholesome games—not a bad way to spend a Saturday. Or summer.

This is for gamers who can’t get enough of games Neko Atsume and Usagi Shimaor just for people who love adorable amphibians. Kamaeru: Frog Shelter It’s a farming symbol of establishing and maintaining a protected area in wetlands where wild frogs can thrive, and it goes deeper than just buying new poufs for the animals to sleep on. In Kamaeru, players must dig up wetlands, gather ingredients to make jams and other treats to sell at the market, monitor their impact on the environment, and buy items to create a welcoming place for all their frog friends. Players can photograph, feed, name and even raise frogs, mixing their colors in a tic-tac-toe Punnett square.

Kamaeru is a relaxed, methodical and surprisingly deep experience filled with cute and colorful frogs. It’s more than just a passive animal spotting game, and it takes quite a bit of grinding – but really comfortable, frog-like – to get the on-screen rewards to start rolling. After about an hour of play, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of this game.

Kamaeru available now On Steam, and confirmed on Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck. Developed by Humble Reeds and published by Armor Games Studios.

Count ’em, that’s four OSes. POOOOOO it’s a sweet and simple game that’s endlessly replayable, just like the stick-and-ball sport that inspired it. In POOOOOO, players throw bouncing balls of different sizes around a rectangle, one at a time, to make the same colored touch spheres. When two matching balls collide, they immediately transform into a larger ball, which can then be combined with another of the same size, and so on. It’s kind of like Three! but with colored balls instead of numbers. Eventually, the globes reach their limit and they disappear with a pop, leaving plenty of room for new balls to spawn. The round ends and the score is tallied when there are no more balls left to drop.

POOOOOO is a cute little physics simulator with a friendly art style and soothing, repetitive mechanics. It’s a game that rewards strategy, but it’s also incredibly forgiving of mindless clicking and dragging, and both playstyles result in a satisfyingly bouncy experience. Put it in your stack to play while killing time or pretending to get work done, and you’ll get a lot of use out of it. POOOOOO comes from developer Noah King and publisher digimoss and it is available now On Steam.

This is something special. Palace on the hill It’s a thoughtful and solid slice-of-life game set in a fictional town in rural India in the 1990s, starring a young man who helps his family make money for the summer. Players plant, tend and sell their crops, work shifts at the local tea shop and do odd jobs around town, meeting residents along the way. Young is a talented artist, and he finds inspiration for new paintings around the village, sharing stories about the region’s past in beautiful watercolor vignettes. It has a rich history and plenty to do at any given time.

Palace on the hill riveting, methodical and enlightening is a sweet surprise of an adventure game. The rural town in which it takes place feels alive, and its boundaries expand gracefully as the game progresses. Each NPC has a distinct personality and unique relationship with their protagonist, and while their world remains shrouded in mystery, it becomes familiar quickly. I heartily recommend this game.

Palace on the hill available today On Steam, confirmed on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, iOS and Android, and Steam Deck. It comes from the indie studio Niku Games.

Traces of thought is a game about chatting, managing cards and solving mysteries, and it all takes place on a long-distance locomotive headed for an unknown destination. After passing through a strange tunnel, every passenger on the train forgets where they’re going, and it’s up to the main character, the friendly purple ladybug, to figure out what’s going on. Ladybug’s personality is shaped by the player’s interactions with other passengers, and conversations are played out like card battles, where the goal is to resolve conflict and help everyone get on the same page.

Traces of thought features a cartoony art style and cool, bug-like characters, and offers a clever mix of chat and card battles. With today’s showing, this game has only been featured in four Healthy Directs (yes, almost all of them), so it’s great to see it now On Steam and Epic Games Store. Traces of thought comes from developer Tidbits Play and publisher Freedom Games.

Find out all the news from Summer Game Fest 2024 here!

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