Small Worlds

Thanks to @SorenJohnson for the heads-up on this lovely little game. Small Worlds is a pixely exploration game with the most rudimentary graphics and controls, created by David Shute for the Casual Gameplay Design competition. You play as a three-pixel-high sprite that could pass as a human if you squint hard enough, moving him around an environment that slowly reveals itself as you progress.

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At first there is nothing remarkable about finding the way forward, with indistinct backgrounds and no clear goal. But as you play the black fog of war clears away, and view pulls out, making the pixels smaller and more defined. At a certain distance you realise that the three pixels are enough to describe your protagonist and the low-def world has a charm all of its own.

The way the game leads you along a path that winds back and forth and up and around and over things, makes the deliberate revelation of the background more evident. Stepping into a flashing object sends you to a new place, and completing that area brings you back, now with a goal in mind. The haunting and thematic music complements the quiet and atmospheric environments, and you feel there is a story being told even if it’s not quite so straightforward.