I believe that everyone has at least one thing that a game could promise them that would get them to play, regardless of any other reservations they may have. I have several such weak spots, but the promise of freedom—the sense that I can manipulate a game's world more than it can manipulate me—sits squarely at the top of the pile. You'd think the boom in AAA open-worlds would satisfy that well enough, but sometimes a big yard is still just a yard.
A sense of freedom is more than a matter of how much space you're given or how many actions and interactions are available. It's capturing a feeling that the world is open to you, even when essentially unavoidable technical limitations mean that it technically isn't. When I think about this feeling the first thing that comes to mind is how good it felt to get a horse in Assassin's Creed 2, opening up the countryside, narrow as it was, to the beating of hooves through grass and mud.
The second thing I think of is flight.
Fruits of a Feather is small. It's a small world with small objectives and small actions, but within all that smallness it feels anything but cramped or restricted. Playing as a brown-plumed bird, you swoop, soar, and bank around a low-poly landscape, collecting large red fruit from the boughs of trees, the banks of rivers, and the grassy slopes between. Getting too hung up on that one objective isn't really the way to play Fruits of a Feather, though.
The fruit gives you something to do, a number to grow or a point to focus on if you need it, but the real joy is simpler than even that. The landscape is beautiful, the music calm, and it doesn't need much more than that to succeed at being a relaxing and freeing way to pass a little time.
It's worth noting that Fruits of a Feather is best played with a controller. And maybe a nice, warm cup of chamomile tea. Download it for free (or pay-what-you-want) on itch.io for Mac, Windows and Linux.