I love to explore in games. It's one of the reasons I play video games—each new game is a new world to explore. If somebody took the exploration part of a game and stripped out all the other mechanics, I'd still enjoy it. Which is why I enjoyed Small Worlds so much.
Small Worlds involves guiding your character around several levels and just exploring them. Your character is a little 3-pixel abstract man who can jump and move about. There are no enemies or failure—just pure exploration. There's some wonderful, mood-setting music and some great examples of retro graphics in this game. The details are well done here and make you feel like you're a part of another world.
But what makes Small Worlds stand out is the way the world is represented, as you explore more of the world the screen zooms out to see everything. You start out zoomed in to just your character and immediate surroundings, and as you explore your screen zooms out to eventually take in the entire world. The sense of scope this provides has to be seen to be believed. A sense of the scale of the world is a huge component to exploration in a game. Small Worlds's unique presentation absolutely nails it.
To talk any more about it really spoils the experience, so I'll leave it at that.
Why You Should Check This Out: It's short, playable in a web browser, and completely free. The music and the graphics set the tone of isolation well. An exploration game, your screen zooms out as you explore to take in the entire world. It's the essential bits of an exploration game distilled into their purest form.