Mura Toka by Moshe Linke
If you fancy a holiday, but you're not able to get away, why not buy a return ticket to the peaceful island of Mura Toka? It's a nice, serene place that gradually unfolds as you explore, the sun coming up to reveal a colourful, mysterious setting full of strange monoliths, structures, and near-weightless stones. The smeared, low-res pixels take a bit of getting used to, but they do further obscure the game's enigmatic world.
Dead Horizon by PixelWestern
Vibrant, 8-bit-ish pixel art brings the land of Dead Horizon to life, so much so that I eagerly awaited the reveal of each new scene. It's a point-and-click shooter set in a steampunky version of the Old West. You're a famous gunslinger who, after a series of epic showdowns, quickly grows in infamy until she's duelling with, seemingly, death itself.
Here's your contribution to each of these set-pieces: waiting for the right moment to unholster your pistol (by moving the mouse to the bottom of the screen), before raising it back up and shooting your opponent/s square in the chops. This is a lovely game, so lovely and so short that I wanted to see more of its chunky, colourful world. It's a game that seems tailor-made for a branching narrative, too, so that would be high on my wishlist should PixelWestern consider making a sequel.
Diaube by Ooniversal
I would have liked a few more ways to interact with each puzzle, but this demo for Diaube is nonetheless a beautifully minimalist platformer with a fun, if slightly ghoulish hook. That hook is the fact that you play as an endless procession of cuboid people, people who will die in the dozens before you get to the end. To grab the heart and reach each exit point, you have to sacrifice those cube people over and over again, climbing over their dead bodies to ascend to higher or further platforms.
7 Deeds by Huntermanx
7 Deeds is a top-down horror game starring a ten-year-old boy. Stranded in his house with some kind of stealthy or invisible monster for company, Stan has to manage his need to eat and, er, go to the toilet with his need to not be killed by the aforementioned creature. Stan's solutions to the monster presence are satisfyingly childish: he can hide behind a sofa, peek out of a cupboard, or if things get really bad, he can cover his ears or close his eyes, which as every child knows are the most effective ways to give supernatural entities the old heave-ho.
Luminous Corridor 0 by Loren Schmidt
This is currently a little buggy (I had to turn the sound on from the menu, and re-map the controls, which were strangely reversed), but once done, I found a challenging and visually fascinating twin-stick shooter, playable by one or two people. Your job is to collect crystals while avoiding and shooting enemies, but the star of the show is the (seemingly procedurally generated?) organic structures dotted about the playing field. This coral-like structure can be deformed by your bullets, so if you want to carve yourself a little niche and fight the enemy from a position of relative safety, you can (for a short while, at least). I suspect Luminous Corridor 0 is a lot deeper than it may appear at first glance, so give it a go, particularly if you have a nearby friend.
Monitor by David Price
Monitor is an intriguing game about listening in, and piecing together clues. As a room-bound agent conducting surveillance on a group of people over a three-day period, you have to follow conversations from one bugged room to another, keeping track of (sometimes several) ongoing chinwags at once. (It's a little like spinning plates.) The whole thing takes place in real-time, so expect to miss the very start of most of the discussions, as you back out from one position to eavesdrop on another convo opening somewhere else—maybe in the lobby or perhaps the billiards room.
Now, obviously you'd have a tape recorder in real life, while your spyees wouldn't dart about quite so much, but the conceit feels justified here. The interesting story concerns the development of a new, potentially revolutionary MS drug, even if the amateur voice acting makes it difficult to get too invested in the unfolding drama.