Have You Played... VVVVVV?
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
VVVVVV is about you and the challenge in front of you. Are you fast enough with your left-right maneuvering to dodge spikes as you fall upwards into the sky? Are you skilled enough to reverse gravity the second your feet touch the ceiling, to send you tumbling back floorward to dodge spikes in reverse? There are no other controls to consider, no lives to protect and restore, and generous checkpointing means you never need to repeat yourself. The game asks you a question and removes everything else in between: are you good enough?
And you will become good enough. VVVVVV is a difficult platformer with rooms you will die inside dozens or hundreds of times, but instant restarts and a hub-style level structure mean that there's no compulsion to give up. You edge closer and closer to perfection with each attempt, teased along with each three-pixel advance around a previously impossible corner. This is why it works where similarly low fidelity platformers do not. Each segment of VVVVVV's world introduces some new piece of level design and gradually compels you to master it, never overwhelming you - except when it's funny to do so.
Couple all that with one of the best game soundtracks of, ooh, the past ten years, and a simple story full of heart, and I'd recommend VVVVVV to anyone. That the modern version also has a level editor and hundreds of custom levels only makes its £4 price more irresistible.