Many LD26 games chose to incorporate the theme of Minimalism by being visually simple. Pyramid was visually simple as a consequence of being minimalist. Burgess chose to strip away the unnecessary elements of a rogue-like, and left us with a stunning piece of work. I will dwell on the degree to which Burgess hit the theme.
In Vision by Proxy, you are a nearly blind extraterrestrial who sees by stealing human eyes. When you steal a pair of eyes, looking out through them gives you a different perspective on the world. A child’s world is full of magic, while an engineer sees the hidden uses of things. To progress through the game, you must collect eyes.
In Death Death Evolution, there is no escape. You must die to advance. This game proposes a new relationship between the platform jumper and the pits. In later stages I was actively looking for places where I could die in a particular way, in order to unlock the tools I might need later. There are even levels where you can die in irrelevant ways, if you choose to, so that if you want to you can be stingy with death, or feed her to bursting in order to fully ‘power up’.
You could play Osmos with no more instruction: the imperative to grow will guide you naturally and inexorably. Despite its simplicity, Osmos does insist on spelling everything out in tutorial levels. I really enjoy early learning stages in games, especially the ones that teach you about the world, rather than the control scheme. I’m usually not pleased when English language words appear on the screen telling me to tap X rapidly or whatnot. Unless the appearance of language is consistent with the theme of the game, (like in Analogue, for example) this can be a real turn off. I’m going to go into some detail about the tutorial levels (there are two) because I think Osmos is an excellent example of how easily a great beginning can turn foul.