For years I’ve hunted down the more whimsical games. The cute, the colourful and of the kind that made you feel good playing them. No earth-shattering story, no deep plot, no dangers lurking around every corner. Just the joy of playing that making you feel good.
And in those years there have been titles that had just that, even before the term “Wholesome Games” was used for the first time. Many people have found in the past months that there’s real relaxation that a game like Animal Crossing New Horizons can bring. So I think the time is right to make a list!
And as LadiesGamers specialises in games of exactly that kind, we will round them up for you. Here’s our list of the Best Wholesome Games already available on the Switch.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles – Simulation
An island that is beautifully detailed and colourful, but plagued by a mysterious dark purple fog known as the Murk, which is causing distress to the island’s residents and is effectively polluting the environment. No surprise then that it’s your mission to gather sprites. They are the only ones that are capable of dispelling the Murk. Gathering sprites isn’t all you have to do, this game simply is heaven for gamers who love side-questing. Every area you find on Gemea has several side quests to fulfil.
In this game, there are no enemies or monsters to fight. There is some farming and tending to animals, but not in the hands-on way of Harvest Moon games. The game is about exploring, about farming for materials, about fishing and crafting and mostly about collecting. Just for the fun of it, and to help the fellow inhabitants of this beautiful land. Even though there are main quests to further the story of activating the Cloud Catcher and ridding Gemea of the murk, the storyline isn’t what it’s about.
Our review for the game is here: Yonder the Cloud Catcher Chronicle
Little Dragons Café – Simulation
Little Dragons Café can’t be compared to Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, Yonder or any of the fan favourites. You can’t farm, you can’t design patterns or even decorate a house. There is no dating and no marriage either. But then that’s not what the developers were going for. There is a strong emphasis on exploration like in Yonder the Cloud Catcher Chronicle but there’s a clear goal too: to find out what each character’s personal story is and help him or her reach their goals.
The story begins with a twin brother and sister learning to cook and manage a small café under their mother’s tutelage. All was peaceful and routine until one morning when the twins discover that their mother has fallen into a deep sleep and won’t wake up. Suddenly, a strange old man appears to inform them that they must raise a dragon in order to save her life. Working together with three quirky café employees, the two siblings must figure out how to a wrangle a dragon and manage the family business while finding a way to save their mother.
Want to know more? Our review for the game is here: Little Dragons Cafe
A Short Hike – Adventure
The thing with A Short Hike is that all elements are included making you want to explore, do side quests (like gathering things, digging for treasure etc) but it’s not mandatory. This is a short adventure game that is special in that it’s entirely play it at your own pace. Don’t want to go from A to B? Then don’t, explore all you want. Can’t find the last of the shells that you’re collecting? Not a problem. It truly is a relaxing experience with excellent controls. It is one of the best games for flying!
You play as Clair, a young bluebird on vacation (yes, even bluebirds need a vacation it seems). She is uneasy, as she is expecting an important phone call but has no reception. Her Aunt May suggests that she hikes to Hawk Peak Provincial Park as the only place that has reception is the Peak’s top. That’s the start of your journey, finding your way to Peak’s Top!
Want to know more? Here’s our review.
The Last Campfire – Adventure game
You take on the role of Ember: a little hooded creature who sets out on an important journey. Ember has been separated from its companions and comes upon a fire and a statue. The statue speaks to Ember and explains that it must look for lost Embers along the path and return them to the flame of one of several Last Campfires.
Enter a world of wonder and charm, as you discover what is hidden in this interactive storybook. See all the wonderful landscapes and dungeons, solve the little puzzles to progress. We gave this Wholesome Game our highest praise!
Pode – Beautiful puzzle game
Of course, the Switch boasts many puzzle games that don’t have much of a storyline and have no real dangers around every corner. But one of the first that came to Switch was a special one for me. Pode, made by Henchman & Goon not only offers great fun for the grey cells, but it looks so very amazing doing it.
Pode is the story of a little rock helping a fallen star find its way home. They travel through the insides of a mysterious and magical mountain and along the way Bulder and Glo breathe life into an ancient sleeping world and explore the ruins of a long lost civilization with their unique talents and abilities.
It was the beauty of the plants and rocks coming to life on your screen that blew me away in Pode. Which is why I think it should be on our Wholesome list!
Farm Together – Simulation
The game has no storyline. No amnesia, no town that has fallen to ruin. You just choose your character and off you go: to a plot of land where you will make your own homestead by doing some hard work. Well, let your little farmer do the work actually.
In Farm Together you can sow and harvest crops, have livestock and fish in the ponds, orchards and gardens. A house to decorate and cook in. Graphically this is a wonderful looking game. There are tons of customising options. For your character, for your tractor, for your pet and for your house. It did remind me of a freemium game on mobile, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing!
Want to know more? Here’s my review.
Giraffe and Annika – Adventure game
A storyline, yes. And a few battles, all based on rhythm. With the challenge of five unique dungeons on the island to recover the star fragments and help recover Annika’s memories. Find cute cat collectables hidden all over the island! Expand your gallery and unlock prizes.
Overall Giraffe and Annika is a fantastic game for a family with younger children to play-through together. The majority of the story is relayed to the player through manga-style cut scenes and during those cut scenes the personality of the cast really shines through as they are detailed with cute hand-drawn pictures.
Discovering the Islands of Spica and a chilled experience is what this game is offering for everyone who isn’t in the mood for a big challenge, just a chilled-out experience.
Paula’s review for the game is here.
Zenge – Pure Puzzle
Zenge is a simplistic puzzle idea turned into a very engaging puzzle game. The puzzles are not too hard, just the right level of difficulty for the game to remain very relaxing without any frustration setting in.
Paula found that with its minimalist art design, which is beautifully achieved as the puzzle completes, and a little bit more of the journeyman’s story that is revealed goes to prove that you don’t need flashy graphics in every game, sometimes less is more!
You can find her full review here
Woven – Adventure puzzle game
Woven is an adventure game in which you explore a woollen world where stuffed animals once lived in peace and on your adventure you will make sure that peace is restored. Okay, a bit more of a storyline, but that’s not exactly what the game is about.
The world of Woven is a world of textures and colours. Everything you see is made out of cloth, stitched or knitted. Felt, cotton wool, leather and plaid: it’s all colourful and looks extremely good. Woven has many, many side quests of the collecting kind. Finding all memory fragments, all colours and all animal blueprints. Great fun. And it’s up to you to explore this world and discover all its little secrets!
Spiritfarer – Simulation game
You play as Stella and her cat Daffodil as they sail the seas on a hand-me-down boat picking up lost spirits in the shape of anthropomorphic animals. After all, Stella has taken over Charon’s role of ferrying souls to the nether-world. Yes, I know, a tad heavier perhaps than the average wholesome game. But on the other hand, it does make you feel oh so good making it work!
Along the way, you’ll progress each spirit’s strand of quests. They’ll open up to you about their life, their worries, their regrets and find peace. And eventually, you will see them off on their final journey through the Everdoor. A beautiful game with lots of simulation elements like farming, building and crafting!
Paula reviewed the game, you can find her review here.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Simulation game
You can not have a list of Wholesome Games without the game that is the quintessential Wholesome Game of them all. Animal Crossing. What was a title for a large group of die-hard fans is now a game that has helped many gamers (and non-gamers too) through the Covid-pandemic staying at home. And is still helping them, with the new Fall update bringing new incentive.
If you don’t know what Animal Crossing is, then I’d have to say: where have you been? You live on Tom Nook’s holiday resort island, but the greedy little businessman relies heavily on your help. Name the island, decorate it, be neighbourly with the animals living on it and make it your own. Want a wilderness island? You can. Want to recreate a bustling town? No worries. Want to make your island into the cutest place ever? You can too. The designing options are endless, like the various items to collect and craft.
You can spend many, many hours in this game, as many fans will testify to. If ever there was a Wholesome Game, it’s this one!
Ash couldn’t resist telling us about all the ways she loves the game, which you can find here.