Wholesome Games Direct 2023: 5 Gems From Summer’s Coziest Showcase

With around eighty games in its show this year, if you blinked during the Wholesome Games Direct you might have missed something. The entire showcase packed the multitude of titles into about forty minutes and featured everything from tabletop-inspired games to laid-back adventures. It’s worth watching the entire showcase, but here are my thoughts on this year’s shining stars.

Usagi Shima

With fortune smiling on me, I chanced to catch comments on this bunny-managing game’s closed beta on social media. I booted it up for a preview not knowing I would be unbelievably lost in it for days. Its distinct art style and endearing concept — which tasks you with building up an island paradise for the resident creatures — combine to make an irresistible force. And today’s trailer unveiled its mobile release date: September 1.


I’m still almost as confused about KarmaZoo after seeing this trailer as I was when it was first announced — but in a different way. Questions that swarmed my mind watching the gameplay included, “Would I let a llama spit on me to make it up an unclimbable wall?” and “If they really needed to, could whales actually jump?” In other words, all of life’s greatest mysteries. Another enigma is how a game with up to ten-person co-op will actually work. Unfortunately, we are still some time away from getting any answers, as the showcase moved to the next game without giving a release date.

A Little To The Left: Cupboards & Drawers

A Little to the Left was a fantastically satisfying puzzle game that let players organize increasingly complicated spaces. I loved its moment-to-moment gameplay and the way its main story wrapped up. So, when more content was announced in the form of Cupboards & Drawers, I was ready to play. This time, I wasn’t left hanging and know exactly when I can start setting the world right. The DLC hits June 27.

Smushi Come Home

I audibly gasped when I saw the end of this trailer — which was awkward because I was watching with earbuds and my reaction alarmed the people around me. It turns out, Smushi Come Home is out on Switch and Steam right now! Like, I could go run around the would being a little mushroom at this very moment. It’s not often that news takes me so completely by surprise and it was a great moment.

Let’s! Revolution!

It was nearly impossible to pick only five games out of the avalanche of amazing indies on the Wholesome Games’ stage, but I’m going to round-out this list with another impending launch. Let’s! Revolution! showed up at GDC and I loved its roguelike, minesweeper-inspired gameplay along with its vibrant art style. Today’s showing was really just a glimpse, as the title fell into a sizzle reel. However, I wanted to make sure indie fans didn’t miss it when it comes out July 19.

One response to “Wholesome Games Direct 2023: 5 Gems From Summer’s Coziest Showcase”

  1. […] my delighted surprise, Smushi released June 10 — right in the middle of the Wholesome Direct. However, its unexpected drop in the middle of Summer Game Fest meant more than a few indie fans […]

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