Sango – Tales from the Coral Cave by Atelier Sento
Here I am on the edge of my seat waiting for Atelier Sento's The Coral Cave, an exquisitely hand-drawn adventure that I've been eagerly anticipating, whenever I remember it. Lately there has been a flurry of activity from the studio, which has been working with students to make some charming freeware adventure games. These include the spooky Yurei Station, and now Sango, which comprises a couple of magical adventures seemingly set in the same world as The Coral Cave.
In one story you play as a cat, trying to do something about a massive sky whale, while in the other you play as a turtle attempting to cheer up a sad girl standing by the seashore. Each contains a beautiful seaside world to explore, with people to chat to and things to use on other things, in a point and click fashion. Who knows what lies in store in 2018, but hopefully it will contain further Atelier Sento stories, including—fingers crossed—The Coral Cave itself.
Meshball by Sven Ahlgrimm
I didn't have anyone to play this with, but I reckon there's a strong local multiplayer game inside Meshball, which is otherwise an inventive and tactile 3D toy. Each player controls a disembodied hand, and as you drag that hand around a low poly landscape, you'll notice that landscape deforming in a pretty damned lovely way. These hills don't just look nice, they also move a bunch of coloured balls around via the awesome power of physics—when a ball passes the dividing white line and into another player's territory, it changes colour and adds a point their tally. Meshball, therefore, is a game of competitively creating hills to scupper your chums/enemies, and it helps that it looks like something you'd find in an '80s sci-fi film.
Burke and Hare by BurkeAndHare
Grave-robbing murderers Burke and Hare have been rehabilitated somewhat in this cute alternate history game, which imagines that Burke and Hare were in fact women fighting to eliminate a zombie plague, by digging up corpses before they could come back to life. There's a lot of exposition for a small arcade game where you have to gad about a graveyard while avoiding a roving copper, including a handsomely drawn (and fully voiced!) intro that sets up the game's intriguing alternate history.
Xmas Slime Invasion by Jani Nykanen
You're probably sick of Christmas by now, but Xmas Slime Invasion is a strong enough endless runner to outweigh the slight festive discrepancy. You're (endlessly) running across a Christmassy landscape here, which naturally is full of slimes that want to be shot and turned into gleaming crystal bits. Snaffle enough of these and your puny gun will turn into a meaty laser, which will tear through anything that lies in its path. Xmas Slime Invasion feels just great to play, thanks to the screenshake, the tight controls, and not least the adorably happy expression your little man sports while he's massacring hordes of Xmas slimes. Awww.