Game Review: Carto

Release date: 2020
Version played: PlayStation 4 in 2020

Developed by the Taiwan-based Sunhead Games, Carto is a 2020 puzzle adventure game. Taking control of Carto, a young girl separated from her family, players must explore the environment and literally rearrange the world to solve puzzles and complete quests. A large cast of characters help Carto throughout the multiple story chapters and various, unique landscapes.

+ the story is relatively bare (“girl is separated from family” – that’s it) and the game depicts this via a short comic-style intro in about ten seconds before the game begins, but dammit you’ll just want to keep playing. Overall the game took me about six to eight hours, but I never felt rushed or like I was lagging behind
+ there is a simple but adorable ‘artistic’ graphic style. All of the characters have a real charm to them, with Carto in particular remaining mostly mute, and instead utilising hand signals or unicode ’emotions’ (for example, having 🙂 appear in a speech bubble above her head). I was particularly fond of the hugging animation some characters have, and the writing is full of wholesome and harmless jokes
+ problem solving via a grid-based map, which the player can rotate and reposition at will, with certain restrictions coming in as the chapters progress. For example, if you need to get to the other side of a mountain range, you can walk across one tile, rotate your previous tile, and walk back on the other side
+ the puzzles are just so much fun. Early on, a character may give a simple instruction or clue (such as, “I thought my house was to the east of the other one…”) and then leaving the player to work out how to progress. In this example, it’s by moving the man looking for his house to the east of the other house). Puzzles do get more difficult, and soon include audio clues as well. Throughout the whole game there was only one I got stuck on to a frustrating degree, and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the rest

Should you play this game: Yes. This game may be a one trick pony with some adorable padding, but that one trick is done to absolute perfection. I recommend this game to anyone looking for a short, but very unique and highly memorable game.

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