Leaf Me Alone
The scores have been tabulated and the results are in: the overall winner of the minimalism-themed Ludum Dare 26 72-hour Game Jam is Leaf Me Alone, a retro Metroidvania-style platformer by Mark Foster and David Fenn. Now, "minimalism" and "Metroidvania" aren't two words that usually go together (except, you know... alliteratively), but Foster and Fenn have put together a wonderful little world for a pixelated-blob-type-thing to explore. You'll be moving said pixelated-blog-type-thing with the [arrow] keys, using [Z] to jump. Exploration is when much of the game's charm lies, but suffice to say, throughout you'll be discovering new areas and abilities, all the while trying to unlock that strange gate near where you started the game.
Works like Fez, Melodisle and Proteus have shown that the thrill of uncovering new vistas is no less intriguing even if said vistas are low-rez, and Leaf Me Alone continues that tradition. Leaf Me Alone is a relaxed, quiet kind of experience, more about the journey than the destination, with an almost-poetic feel. Some parts of the game are a little aimless from its lack of explicit direction, and it could use a few more visual cues to distinguish platforms "pass-through-able from below" from the "ones-you'll-clonk-into" variety. Still, Leaf Me Alone is a solid winner, and going on the trip it offers won't leave players too... sigh "bushed".