Summer Game Fest 5 Most Heartwarming Indie Games
Summer Game Fest is an opportunity for the indie community to showcase their creative projects. Indie games are often delightful experiments with new and unique concepts, designed to get us thinking and feeling. The games on display this year covered the full range of the scary, the adventurous, the puzzling, and more. We are here to focus on five games highlighted during Summer Game Fest – more specifically, Day of the Devs – that offer something heartwarming. These are games that are quirky and wholesome, the kind you want to sit down and play on a rainy afternoon. Here are our picks for the five most heartwarming indie games of Summer Game Fest.
5. A Little to the Left
Developed by Max Inferno, A Little to the Left is a relaxing and engaging puzzle-solving game about organization. Using everyday objects as inspiration, players will need to figure out how best to keep things neat and tidy. Many puzzles in the game will have multiple solutions, and the developers have stated that the more puzzles you complete, the more surreal the solutions become. They can start out as simple as arranging things from largest to smallest but will soon spiral to abstract answers about the nature of the objects in question.
As an added feature, from time to time the developer’s cat will make its presence known on-screen. While you are trying to keep things need and tidy, the cat will of course find a way to mess things up just to keep you on your toes – like a real cat! This can include batting objects across the table, or a random tail swish pushing things aside. It’s not meant to be a hindrance to your progress, only a touch of slice-of-life realism. At Summer Game Fest the developers also mentioned a daily organizational challenge. Each day a new puzzle will be made available and completing a certain amount rewards you with badges.
A Little to the Left is due out later this year and will be available on Mac, PC, and Nintendo Switch. For more information, check out the game’s official website.
4. Bear and Breakfast
Sim, management, and farming games are all the rage. They offer a relaxing chance to – much like the previous entry – keep things nice and organized just as you like them. Bear and Breakfast rolls these mechanics together with an adorable art style and clever premise like a fun twist on Goldilocks. You play as Hank, an entrepreneurial bear who has noticed that humans are coming back to the forest. What problem does this pose? They have nowhere to stay! Hank takes it upon himself to start building a lovely Bed and Breakfast for the humans to make them feel welcome. The art style alone is one you can’t help but smile at and the idea of people casually staying at a B&B run by a bear is outlandish in the best way.
You’ll forage (of course you will) for the materials needed to build rooms and furniture. You’ll answer customer requests to make sure everybody is clean, comfortable, and happy. You’ll even learn to cook for them so they can be well fed. There is an overarching narrative to the game as Hank progresses in building a better and better B&B but there is something so charming about the concept and presentation of the game. It offers so much heart just by looking at it. This was a game I was delighted to see at Summer Game Fest, and the team at Armor Games hasn’t put any time constraints or worrisome restrictions either, so you can just play at your own pace and enjoy the weirdness of it all.
Bear and Breakfast is also due out July 28th, 2022, and will be available on PC and Nintendo Switch. For more information, check out the game’s official website.
3. Planet of Lana
This is a personal story of love and adventure that takes place behind a much larger story. In Planet of Lana, your home planet has been invaded by machines. The world is at war, but your only concern is the well-being of your missing sister. Helping you along the way is a mysterious, imp-like creature called Mui. Mui is able to manipulate the environment to help you overcome obstacles, but it also has a strange connection to the odd creatures of the land.
This is a beautiful, brightly colored side-scrolling platformer that tells the story of your journey to rescue your sister. The finer details that go into Mui and the other creatures are fluid and tell so much about the characters entirely on their mannerisms. It’s a tale of love against the backdrop of war. It’s an adventure to save the person you care for the most, and most importantly, it reminds us that not all problems need aggression as a solution.
Planet of Lana is set to release later this year and will be available on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. For more information, check out the game’s official website.
You are a water nymph, guardian of the water and all who reside within it. In this minimalist title, you’ll swim through fountains, lakes, rivers, and springs to encounter precious wildlife. You’ll help fish get out of dangerous situations, and be part of the balance of nature. You’ll even learn from the creatures you encounter, like how ducks can dive. NAIAD is a game about the beauty and peace of nature and life.
Told from a top-down perspective, you can customize the color of Naiad’s hair and the flower which sits within it. It’s a serene, almost meditative experience to get lost in and enjoy. Much like the other entries on this list, its art style is simple but colorful. It’s inspiring to look at and encourages you to stop and smell the roses along the way.
NAIAD is set for release in Q3 of 2022 and will be available on Mac, PC, and other platforms. For more information, check out the game’s official website.
SCHiM is a remarkable game in which players take on the role of, well, a schim. A schim is the spirit found within everything in the world, alive and inanimate. In this case, you play a schim who has been separated from their human and you must find your way back. Schims can only move through the shadows, hoping like a frog from one point of darkness to the next on their quest to be reunited with their human.
Using single colors for each stage allows for the shadows to pop on-screen, helping you plan your next move. The camera can be rotated to find new paths and tricks previously unavailable to you. You’ll even be able to encounter other schim’s and help them on their way home too. It’s another example of the finer details adding so much personality and character to what is otherwise a small black blob. It’s a game of exploration and puzzle-solving, observing the environment as you plan your next move to get home. It’s almost like an interactive Pixar film.
SCHiM does not yet have a release date, but it is slated to be available on PC, Mac, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox consoles. For more information, check out the game’s official website.