Carto
Gameplay 8
Graphics 9
Sound 8

Carto is a unique puzzle adventure with charming visuals and very creative challenges. The protagonist has cartography powers that allow her to manipulate her surroundings using different map pieces and this forms the basis for most of the puzzles. Apart from a few puzzles that can be a little obscure, this is a relaxing adventure that will keep most players entertained for the seven or so hours it lasts.

Gameplay: Moving around map pieces to change your surroundings allows for some creative puzzles.

Graphics: The hand-drawn visuals and charming animations make for a lovely looking game.

Sound: No voice acting, but the soundtrack is great

Summary 8.3 Outstanding
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
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Carto

Developer: Sunhead Games | Publisher: Humble Games | Release Date: 2020 | Genre: Casual / Puzzle / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Carto is a young girl who cruises the skies in an airship with her grandmother, but an accident sees the two of them getting separated. Carto finds herself on an island inhabited by friendly folks but immediately sets out on a journey to reunite with her grandmother. Thankfully, this task is made a little easier by the fact that Carto is not just any ordinary girl. Like her grandmother, she is able to manipulate the pieces of a magical map to alter the world around her. Most of the map pieces got scattered when Carto fell out of the airship, but with a bit of exploring and some help from the friendly locals, she quickly begins gathering them again.

The gameplay in Carto is based almost entirely around its map manipulation mechanics. With one button tap, players can look at all the map pieces that Carto has found and can then rotate these and piece them together. It starts out very easy with map pieces fitting together in obvious ways, but the difficulty steadily ramps up throughout the adventure. The map is grid-based and pieces can be rotated in four directions, but can only be connected to each other in a way that makes sense. For example, you can’t connect a piece with an ocean to a piece with a forest or desert on it unless there is a coastline. This means that some lateral thinking is required to get Carto where she needs to be at times. Sometimes pieces also have to be connected in specific ways based on descriptions provided by NPCs, which in turn reveals previously unseen portions of the map.

There is some repetition involved with the map manipulation, especially as you sometimes end up having to repeatedly move pieces out of the way that doesn’t fit. The game does try to keep things fresh with later levels featuring map pieces of different sizes and shapes as well as map pieces with rooms or tunnels underneath them. There are even a few puzzles that make use of audio or visual clues. The story itself seems to be aimed at very young players, but they will definitely need some assistance with some of the more obtuse puzzles later in the game.

Overall Carto is a rather relaxing game as there is never any real danger and the protagonist can’t get hurt. There are no enemies to fight either and everyone you encounter is very friendly. Visually the game features a hand-drawn art style for the levels and characters, which along with the whimsical character designs, gives it the appearance of a children’s storybook. It’s not the first time that we’ve seen this kind of thing, but everything looks great and the art complements the style of the game perfectly.

Carto also features plenty of different biomes spread throughout its ten or so chapters and players get to explore everywhere from lush forests and sandy deserts to fiery volcanoes and freezing icebergs. The character designs are very cute and every NPC you meet has their own unique design. The game doesn’t have a lot of graphical options apart from selecting the resolution, brightness and whether you want to play in fullscreen mode or not, but it doesn’t really need much more.

The audio in Carto is charming right from the start and even the sound effects made by moving between the different menu options on the title screen fits in perfectly with the music. Not only does the game feature a ton of different tunes, but most of them make use of instruments that are more interesting and unique than what is typically heard on soundtracks. The music, sound effects, and ambient volumes can be adjusted independently or simultaneously using the master volume slider. Although the game does not have any voice acting, the speech bubbles used by the characters add to the charm. We played Carto using a controller, which worked perfectly, but it is also playable using a keyboard. Strangely, the game doesn’t appear to have mouse support, which is something that will irk some players.

All in all, it took us just over seven hours to complete Carto and the game had plenty of memorable moments along the way. While it doesn’t have a lot of replay value it is possible to go back to previous chapters and look for some of the secrets. Overall, it’s a very feel-good title that revels in its optimism and creativity. Like we mentioned earlier, some puzzles can be a little frustrating for younger players, but they will have a lot of fun playing it with the assistance of a parent or friend.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 7 SP1+
  • Processor: Intel or AMD Dual Core at 2 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Geforce 9600 GS, Radeon HD 5670
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: macOS 10.11+
  • Processor: Intel or AMD Dual Core at 2 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Geforce 9600 GS, Radeon HD 5670
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system

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