Games of the Year

Carto

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Carto is a charming adventure game wrapped around a unique, world-altering puzzle mechanic. Use this power to explore mysterious lands, help a quirky cast of characters, and guide Carto on her journey back to her family.



Separated from her Granny during a storm, young Carto must use her innate cartography powers to map and manipulate the world around her on her quest to be reunited. As she discovers new “pieces” of the game map, players can rearrange them to shape the levels themselves - unlocking new paths, puzzles, and story moments.



Carto will traverse strange new lands, learn their cultures, and enlist the help of new friends along the way in this hand-crafted adventure.

Features

  • Employ a unique puzzle and exploration mechanic: rearrange pieces of your map, and watch the world change around you!

  • Chill out and explore peaceful-yet-mysterious lands across a 5-7 hour story

  • Meet a colorful cast of characters and learn about their unique cultures

  • Bask in lush, hand-drawn visuals across a variety of biomes

  • Experience a beautiful soundtrack with over 30 original tracks to accompany you on your adventure


Promote for 50G

Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

Playing status: 100% achievement
Grindy Achievement(s): No.
Optional Achievement(s): Yes (10 achievements).
Difficult Achievement(s): No.
Intro
Carto is a puzzle game where you move map pieces next to other pieces to connect them. Map pieces that were connected will be able to be explored, allowing you to find new map pieces to progress the game. It reminds me of Doraemon's Moving-Map gadget, except that instead of houses, you move the entire plot of land within the area. The game has 10 chapters total, showcasing unique tribes with different themes and cultures.
Pros:
- Some puzzles require out-of-the-box thinking to solve
- Feedback whenever you are solving the puzzle in the right direction
Cons:
- There are no extra hints apart from the initial one that was given
Specs
Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
Should you buy this game?
Yes.
If you like to play cute-looking puzzle games, buy this game.
In-Depth Review
Visuals
Carto presents itself in cute-looking visuals. Characters look deformed with the lack of outlines to focus more on the characters' eyes and expressions. The backgrounds are also made in a similar style, with a different theme in each chapter. I like how simple and neat the interface is. It doesn't take long for me to get used to it despite the game having such a unique mechanic to learn.
Story
The story is a light-hearted one. Carto, our child cartographer, was stranded on an island and had to find her way back. She'll travel from place to place, meeting various tribes with different traditions and conditions and helping them whenever necessary. I'm amazed to see the different backgrounds and cultures that each tribe has, and how friendly they are with our protagonist.
The Game
Gameplay
You'll be handed a map that contains rotatable map pieces, which can be used to change the terrain. This allows you to access more places, reaching previously inaccessible areas to unlock more map pieces that you can connect. There is a limitation to the connecting part though: you can only connect both pieces if their edge intersects with each other - water with water, grassland with grassland, and so on.
It can be hard to understand how the puzzles work at first. You need to change your way of thinking by translating people's inquiries to rotating or moving the map pieces. The game never gives an extra hint, so you are bound to be stuck if you can't figure out the solution with that. Still, it was easy to solve most puzzles once you are in the right mindset.
The game also has a concept of a "labyrinth" area where you need to navigate a seemingly endless place unless if you go in the right direction. You need to infer clues from the surroundings to figure out the direction that you need to go. I like how they are implementing these puzzles - despite being different from the usual mechanic, they are still connected with the cartographer theme. Moreover, the main mechanics will also be integrated into these areas later, giving another unique puzzle to work on.
Length and Difficulty
I finished all 10 chapters in the game in 4.5h. The game is roughly in the medium difficulty due to out-of-the-box thinking. I didn't have any problem solving most puzzles, although I admit that I stumbled on some of them, mostly because either I didn't understand the hints properly or the solution was different from the one that I had in mind.
Conclusion
Carto is one of those games that uses unique mechanics and is implemented brilliantly. The game never changes its focus from the cartographer theme, letting you navigate the area with your unique map or the surrounding clues. You need to think differently to solve these puzzles, and it was satisfying whenever you did it right. Despite the lack of hints, the game is forgiving enough to give some feedback whenever you are going in the right direction. If you like to play unique puzzle games, feel free to buy this game.
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Review from Steam

Carto is a very sweet, cleverly designed matching & shape based puzzle game. There is a strong focus on exploration featuring plenty of adorable hand-drawn characters and locations.
Puzzles mainly play by manipulating your map to gain access to areas previously not accessible, usually netting you a new map piece and/or progress in the story. There are other types of puzzles in the mix to keep the game fresh and challenging.

Review from Steam

just put Carto in your shopping Carto

Review from Steam

Very original game where you have can alter the game world by moving and rotating pieces of the map. This feature is used to solve puzzles and to reach new parts of the game world, where you meet a bunch of funny people who give you new quests.
The puzzles are a mixed bag: some of them are very clever, while others are rather easy or trial&error boring. But the charming characters and lovely art made me enjoy the game until the end. Definitely recommended if you want to play something new.

Review from Steam

Pleasant, cheerful puzzle-adventure. Carto is lost in a lightning storm and has to find back to her airship-adventurer granny. And sort of teams up with a companion who has to leave her island to find her future in the big world. It is actually better than it sounds ;-)
Game mechanics based on moving map pieces ("puzzle squares") around so that things connect, sometimes paths, sometimes types of landscape, sometimes other things...
Sounds simple, can be surprisingly challenging. Quests to find stuff, fetch stuff, solve clues to move forwards, and so on in familiar style. Well made and enjoyable. Nothing tense or stress, platforming or timed, or scary. So that's thumbs up from me :-)
Varied character gallery, some I liked better than others, some quite funny, some not-my-humour, none are all that deep. A bit annoying that in most dialogues the NPCs have more to say if you click on them a second time, but you have to then wait through the first set of comments, again. Tedious.
Visually : cheerful and crisp.
But leaning towards the japanese-childrens-cartoon-style which I personally am not keen on and found a bit too cute. Along with the dialogues, which tend heavily towards breathlessly naive cutey-pie. So a bit too cute for my personal taste, but hey, other people may think differently. And no biggie in a game that overall was fun to play.
Saving worked well. Ran smooth on my simple gear, KB+M. And the bonus scenes while the credits rolled were really quite... delightful, and gave me a happy smile right at the end.
( I must add, though, that I found the travelling companion quite an annoying, selfish me-first kind of person. Maybe the type just rubbed against the grain for me, or cultural cues read differently, or something.... )

Review from Steam

---{Graphics}---
☐ You forget what reality is
☐ Beautiful
☑ Good
☐ Decent
☐ Bad
---{Gameplay}---
☐ Very good
☑ Good
☐ It‘s just gameplay
☐ Not great
☐ Bad
---{Audio}---
☐ Eargasm
☐ Very good
☑ Good
☐ Not too bad, but not too good
☐ Bad
---{Audience}---
☐ Kids
☐ Teens
☐ Adults
☑ All
---{PC Requirements}---
☑ Potato
☐ Decent
☐ Fast
☐ Current generation hardware
---{Difficulity}---
☐ Just press 'W'
☐ Easy
☑ Requires effort
☐ Easy to learn / Hard to master
☐ Difficult
☐ Dark Souls
---{Grind}---
☐ Nothing to grind
☑ Only if you want achievements
☐ Isn't necessary to progress
☐ Average grind level
☐ Too much grind
---{Story}---
☐ No Story
☐ Some lore
☐ Average
☑ Good
☐ Lovely
---{Game Time}---
☐ Long enough for a cup of coffee
☑ Short - <10 hours
☐ Average - 10-20 hours
☐ Long - 21+
☐ Never-ending
---{Price}---
☐ It’s free
☐ Worth the price
☑ Buy on sale
☐ Not recommended
---{Bugs}---
☑ Never heard of
☐ Minor bugs
☐ Noticable bugs
☐ Game ruining bugs

Review from Steam

In my ongoing and likely futile effort to write a Steam review for every game in my library (#515 out of 700+)... it's time for Carto.
An absolutely gorgeous game.
Kinda buggy with input devices -- my gamepad randomly stopped working suddenly, and my mouse didn't work at all, forcing me to use the keyboard to exit and reboot the game.
Built around a very simple puzzle gimmick not dissimilar to Dark Cloud's city building mechanics: you restore the land by placing map tiles, connecting like terrain to like terrain, and arranging the geography to suit the NPCs. Once you've successfully reconstructed the island according to the NPCs' descriptions, it's time to move on.
Could really be edit from a sandbox mode w/ randomized quests. The core campaign is pretty engaging and surprisingly charming, but isn't really interesting or complex enough to keep subsequent playthroughs engaging.
Do you love maps and cartography? If not, maybe give this one a pass. But if you're like me and have been scribbling maps of all kinds of different things on the backsides of your notebooks since your earliest memories, perhaps you, too, will fall in love with Carto--as I did.
Essentially, Carto is a puzzle game. You play as some kind of deity--or at least the mischievous child of one--on an adventure to restore the world to its correct form. You do this by collecting map tiles and then placing them in the correct arrangement to adhere to NPC descriptions of what the world used to look like. EG if a villager says that there's a lake to the east and a forest to the west, you'll want to set the village tile down in the middle with a forest tile on the left and a lake tile in the right, rotating them as needed to create a contiguous landscape. If that sounds very simple, well... yes, it is very simple. As you progress through the game these cartographic dilemmas become increasingly complex, but never exceed the acceptable bounds of a lighthearted, casual adventure.

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