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Over the course of E3 2021, an interesting pattern has emerged in the themes and mechanics of the new games that were shown off in the conferences. This might just be the most peaceful lot of games yet.
The genre of wholesome games isn't the newest kid on the block, however, as there have been more E3 streams than you can shake a stick at this summer, I'll make sure everyone's on the same page. Wholesome games are those games with a slow and purposeful pace, a colourful or pastel art direction, and perhaps focus on everyday happenings rather than the explosive bombast of an AAA title. One such example is A Short Hike, which Mike played during lockdown last year. "I loved every second of adamgryu's delightfully quiet adventure, and its two hours or so were exceptionally memorable," said Mike. These games have existed for a while, yet the external climate of uncertainty and fatigue regarding global events have led to their surge in recognisability as an equally valid avenue of escapism compared to big budget experiences like The Last Of Us and Far Cry.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale was a part of the Wholesome Games Direct last year and it was released for PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 not long ago. Ewan's review is here, where he calls the adventure a "must-play for all", and the trailer is below.
For E3 2019 and E3 2021, GamesIndustry.biz has taken it upon itself to record the prevalence of violence in the games presented during the two events. Of course, you've got to consider how you're defining violence. If the game sees you decking little evil aliens on your planet but is otherwise a placid settlement sim, then there's an instance of violence right there. However, GamesIndustry.biz used this to categorise the games seen in the showcases:
Of the 349 games shown in 15 separate events, including heavy hitters like Microsoft and Nintendo to smaller showcases like the Future Games Show, 115 of them were not violent. That calculates to be 33% of the total and a significant rise compared to the report from two years ago, where 17% of games could be counted in this category. It's worth mentioning that Wholesome Direct contained more than half of the 115 not violent games in E3 2021. Well, it did what it said on the tin.
Of the big two (Sony hasn't arranged its summer showcase yet), Nintendo had a higher proportion of not violent games compared to Microsoft: 22% versus 13%. Nintendo has seen an increase in not violent titles whereas games of this genre in Microsoft's presentation dropped by 11% between the years. Ubisoft had Riders Republic, Rocksmith+, Just Dance 2022 and Assassin's Creed Discovery Tour, but all of the games from Bethesda, Square Enix, Koch Media, Capcom and Gearbox Entertainment were violent in some shape or form. You can see the entire table in GamesIndustry.biz's report, yet it is interesting to see a trend like this at the start of a new generation of consoles.
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