If you’re looking for something relaxing and wholesome to play then you should really take a look at Carto, a new puzzle game from Sunhead Games. This is an enchanting adventure with a unique gameplay mechanism and a delightful world to explore.
The story begins with a young girl, Carto, accidentally falling out of her Grandmother’s airship during a storm. Thankfully she’s unharmed but she’ll need to travel across the word in order to be reunited with her Granny. Even though Carto is just a child she’s not completely helpless, you see she has a rather unique ability. She comes from a long line of cartographers who, by rearranging pieces of a special map, can actually change the layout of the world. This ability to move around sections of the world will form the basis for many of the puzzles you encounter.
Carto Review – Change the World
Initially the area that you’re able to explore is quite small but by finding hidden map pieces you can actually enlarge the world. Once you’ve found a piece, you can zoom out and place it on to the grid-based map. By zooming back in you can then walk around and investigate these newly placed areas.
You can’t just place them wherever you like though. The map is a bit like a jigsaw where only certain pieces fit together. For example, if an edge is forested then you can only place it next to other forested areas. None of the pieces are permanently fixed after you’ve placed them, you’re free to keep re-arranging the world to your heart’s content. It’s actually pretty neat to be able to just rearrange sections of the world as you please and then get to walk around in it.
You’ll meet plenty of interesting characters on your travels, and it’s always interesting to stop and have a little chat with them. In each new land you visit the people will have their own unique customs and culture for you to get to know. None of the tales that you come across are particularly emotionally heavy and this makes it pretty refreshing to play through. It’s nice to play something that feels more like a celebration of life rather than yet another save-the-world or a sad emotional roller-coaster of a story.
Carto Review – Brain Teaser
Many of the puzzles that you come across early in the game will be fairly simple to solve. So, for example, a person might tell you that their house is near a forest in the west. If you then move a map piece with forest on it over to the west then their house will suddenly appear. The puzzles do slowly get more difficult but they never feel frustratingly tricky to solve.
For the most part, as long as you’ve been paying attention to what the locals have said and kept your eye out for any subtle environmental clues, you should be able to figure out your next steps. Many of the puzzles are just variations on the same mechanic so, with a little experimentation, you should easily be able to figure them all out. There are a handful of puzzles which require more out-of-the-box thinking and it can feel incredibly satisfying when you manage to solve them.
Once you finish the game you’ll be able to replay using chapter select. This allows you to go back and pick up any of the collectables and trophies that you might have missed the first time around. All in all, it’ll probably only take you between six to eight hours to reach the game’s conclusion and see everything that there is to see. The short length means that the game doesn’t outstay it’s welcome but I can’t help but wish that there were a few more areas to explore.
The art style in Carto is really distinctive, it has an absolutely gorgeous hand-painted quality to it. Every new environment that you discover has it’s own unique look, whether it’s a lush forest, harsh desert or a frozen iceberg, it’s all incredibly beautiful. The music also works really well to put you in a wonderfully relaxed state of mind.
Much of the fun in Carto is that you never know what new things you’ll discover next. It’s a real joy to find new map pieces and see what new areas you can explore, as well as the new characters that you’ll get to meet next. This is a super chilled out puzzle game and quite possibly one of the most relaxed and wholesome adventures that you’ll have this year.
Carto review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.