Back in 2018, I created a website with the purpose of listing games released the previous year that were accessible to audiences not used to playing videogames. A big majority of games released every year have a huge reliance on the player's familiarity with a specific kind of ‘game grammar’, and their desensitisation to a particular gamey violence; for people who do play games often, it's very easy to lose sight of this! So I thought it was important to highlight games that went out of their way to avoid these things. This mattered to me both as a player (I wanted to have games to show my non-gamer friends and relatives!) and a designer (reminding myself not to take things for granted.)
The website was quite well received, and the following year I made a new edition with a new selection of games from 2018. Unfortunately, after that I lacked the time, energy and budget to make a list for the games of 2019 – plus, the whole world was going through a bit of a rough patch – so I didn't publish anything. Around that time, the Wholesome Games website and events became quite huge and I felt there was enough similarity in the concept to make GFF redundant, so I didn't renew the domain.
a good balance
- Burly Men at Sea
A folktale about a trio of large, bearded fishermen who step away from the ordinary to seek adventure.
Discover what it's like to be the Universe in this beautiful interactive nature simulation.
A tender salute to life. An emotional journey through a dreamlike space.
An elegant evolution of the puzzle genre, told through a beautifully hand-drawn story designed and illustrated by Jason Roberts.
- Hidden Folks
Search for hidden folks in hand-drawn, interactive, miniature landscapes. Unfurl tent flaps, cut through bushes, slam doors, and poke some crocodiles!
- Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze
Become Phryne Fisher, the independent, feminist super-sleuth. Go on a modish dance of adventure, murderous mayhem and mystery around the world.
- Monument Valley 2
Journey with a mother and daughter as they embark on a journey of discovery through a stunning and impossible world.
- Old Man's Journey
A puzzle-driven story game about life’s precious moments, broken dreams, and changed plans.
- Reigns: Her Majesty
Swipe left, swipe right, and rule your kingdom as the mighty Queen!
In this action-puzzle game, paper pals Snip and Clip must cut each other up to overcome tricky obstacles…or just to laugh their heads off (sometimes literally).
- Zip Zap
Touch to contract. Release to let go. Bring the clumsy mechanical beings home.
bit more thinking
Part puzzle game, part drawing tool, Engare is a all about your geometric imagination.
- Fidel Dungeon Rescue
Fidel is a rescue dog in a dungeon full of monsters, traps, treasure and trapped heroes.
- Flipflop Solitaire
A new Solitaire that breaks the rules... Stack down and up! But be careful, you only have 5 piles and you can only move suited stacks.
A refreshingly inventive, minimalist puzzle-adventure game set in a universe of lines.
An intimate, narrative-driven adventure game about a robot vacuum cleaner becoming self-aware.
- Sudoku Sweeper
A minimalist mashup of Minesweeper and Sudoku. Logic puzzle perfection.
- Swim Out
Dive into the relaxing and refreshing atmosphere of Swim Out, a strategic, turn-based puzzle game.
- The Sexy Brutale
Join a never-ending masked ball in this puzzle-and-adventure game featuring intrigue, murder and the (quite-possibly) occult!
Grow plants and work your garden’s soil. Your goal is to harvest as many plants as you can before your garden fills up!
Anagrams meets Word Search, with a sprinkle of Crosswords.
- Universal Paperclips
An incremental game in which the user plays the role of an AI programmed to produce paperclips.
lots of reading
- A Mortician's Tale
A narrative-driven death positive video game where you play as a mortician tasked with running a funeral home.
- A Museum of Dubious Splendors
A storybook from the world of Somewhere. An adaptation of a series of essays written by Gujarati poet Mir UmarHassan.
- Bury Me, My Love
The reality-inspired story of Syrian refugee Nour and her husband Majd as Nour undertakes a perilous journey to safety.
- Butterfly Soup
A visual novel about gay asian girls playing baseball and falling in love.
- Dream Daddy
A game where you play as a Dad and your goal is to meet and romance other hot Dads.
- Far From Noise
Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Let the wind wash over you as a wave. Don’t think about death. You will be alright. Keep breathing.
playful and cheery
- Alien Caseno
this is probably going to be the most aliens you've seen in one spot EVER.
- Creature Garden
Create wonderful, incredible, and fantastical creatures. Give them hooves and horns, wings and beaks, or paws and claws.
You are a traffic engineer. Draw freeway interchanges. Optimize for efficency and avoid traffic jams.
A playful puzzle game about exploring monstrous virtual toys. Press, pull, slide, grab, click, and rotate every GNOG head to uncover its secrets!
- Toca Life: Pets
You and your animal friends run the show! What’s your favorite pet like? Furry and fast? Wet and wiggly? A little bit creepy?
An exploration game without text or characters, where objects shapeshift as you spin them around to wander through a kaleidoscope of moods and settings.
- ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission
Take control of ASTRO the captain BOT and go on an epic VR rescue mission to save your fellow crew who are dispersed all over space.
- Beat Saber
A VR rhythm game, where your goal is to slash the beats which fit perfectly into precisely handcrafted music.
- Nintendo Labo
A fun way to Make, Play, and Discover with Nintendo Switch.
- Super Mario Party
The original 4-player Mario Party series board game mode that fans love is back!
- Bring You Home
The story of a humble alien hero that will traverse multiple worlds in a frenetic chase with the goal of retrieving his kidnapped alien pet.
Join the hairy hero Chuchel and his rival Kekel on their quest to retrieve the precious cherry and face numerous puzzles and challenges!
- The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game
You're a detective, and a frog, and it's time to solve a mystery.
- Touch Melbourne
Explore the city of Melbourne through its various, tiny everyday interactions.
Typography meets crazy golf. Putt your way through the alphabet, complete your own wordy courses, challenge your friends, and share your best shots.
- Alto's Odyssey
An endless sandboarding journey set against a gorgeous and ever-changing desert landscape.
Dig deep underground by shooting balls and breaking blocks, traversing your way to the planet cores. Thoughtfully strategize and aim for maximum impact.
- I'm Ping Pong King :)
The goal of this game is to beat 16 rivals and win the crown; these funny stickmen can be world’s best champion, your boss or super granny.
- Trick Shot 2
A game where you throw a ball in to a box... How hard can it be?
- Donut County
A story-filled physics puzzle game where you play as a hole in the ground.
A serene and evocative experience, free of danger, frustration or death.
A game that tells a charming short story of the bush, a wombat and a very hot Australian Summer.
- Storm Boy, The Game
Experience an interactive retelling of Colin Thiele's 1964 children’s book by taking control of both Storm Boy and Mr. Percival.
- The Gardens Between
Best friends Arina and Frendt fall into a series of vibrant, dreamlike garden islands. Manipulate time to solve puzzles and discover the secrets of each island.
A subtle puzzle game about unraveling playful abstract artworks one color at a time.
- Marching Order
Take charge of an adorable (but disorderly) animal marching band in this addictive logic puzzle game!
- Tetris Effect
Tetris like you've never seen it, or heard it, or felt it before—a breathtakingly gorgeous reinvention of one of the most popular puzzle games of all time.
- Tiny Bubbles
Play with squishy clusters of soap bubbles in this mesmerizing physics puzzle game. Inflate, mix, match, pop, and win with hundreds of super fun goals to complete.
- A Gay's Life
The story of a gay man's childhood, adolescence and adulthood in China.
The story of a young woman and the heartracing highs and heartbreaking lows of her very first love.
A bitsy poem.
A minimalist narrative experiment driven by your curiosity. Follow the trails of weasels, talk to ghosts, cross the ocean. Find out what happened to this world.
- FAR: Lone Sails
Travel across a dried-out ocean following the tracks of a once thriving civilization. Overcome numerous obstacles and withstand the hazardous weather conditions.
A peculiar little adventure played sixty seconds at a time.
- Quarantine Circular
Scientists interrogate an alien discovered at the heart of a global pandemic. Work with your team, make decisions and uncover the alien’s true intentions.
- Return of the Obra Dinn
An Insurance Adventure with Minimal Colour.
- 11-11 Memories Retold
11th Nov. 1916, a young photographer leaves Canada to join the Western Front in Europe. The same day, a German technician is told that his son is missing in action.
- A Case of Distrust
A narrative mystery from 1924 San Francisco. Play as private investigator Phyllis Cadence Malone in this historical 2D adventure game.
- Heaven Will Be Mine
A queer science fiction mecha visual novel about joyriding mecha, kissing your enemies, and fighting gravity's pull.
- My Child Lebensborn
A story-driven nurture game. Help the child of an enemy in a post-war society.
- Reigns: Game of Thrones
Claim the Iron Throne as Cersei Lannister, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen. Carefully navigate the complex relationships and hostile factions of the Seven Kingdoms.
- Where the Water Tastes Like Wine
A bleak American folk tale about traveling, sharing stories, and surviving manifest destiny.