Master Cartographer-Carto

Now that October is over and I can stop playing games that keep me up at night, I can get to more heartwarming games. I have said before in my talk about Baba is You that I like puzzle games but I do believe that I am actually stupid, so I get frustrated mid game about it. That is still true when it comes to Carto. It is a game that is simple in every fashion but when it comes to the puzzles; they are deceivingly simple and I just couldn’t figure them out. I tried SO HARD.

In the end…

I am stupid.

I did end up finishing the game with the help of my wife and her ability to read maps better than I could have. This week I travel across the lands, searching far and wide for my Grammy in Carto!

Carto is a puzzle adventure game developed by Sunhead Games (Which has to have the best logo EVER) and published under Humble Games and X D Network Inc. Carto is available on all platforms and retails for $20.

You are Carto, a little girl who fucked with a map, falls out of her grandmothers airship and ends up on a mysterious island. She meets a 15-year girl named Shainan. Shainan is in a small predicament; she is old enough to venture out on her own to start her new life on a new island, but she does not want to honor her family’s oldest tradition. She decides to help Carto in the search for her Grammy and they set off to a wide variety of locales.

Carto is more than just a game about a lost child trying to find her way back home; its about friendship, love and the strength it takes to venture out on ones own. Carto is not the only person that is lost; Shainan is lost when she is forced to leave her home and search for the perfect place to call home.

The characters that you meet in Carto are absolutely adorable. A boy who consistently loses his sheep, a group of watchers that have animal friends who need help navigating the ever changing forest, a group of sand dwellers looking for an oasis and a librarian that knows the future.

Carto doesn’t talk (only in emojis) but everyone is fine when asking for a child’s help in finding treasure, sailing and wrangling goats.

All of these characters are diverse and are in need of Carto’s ability to manipulate the world through her map.

Carto CAN manipulate the world around her to fit her needs. Open up her map to find scattered pieces that need to be connected. Map pieces can be turned in four directions. It may sound easy but areas have to match within the same piece. Forest has to connect to forest, grassland to grassland and so on. As games usually go, they make it easy in the beginning but as time goes on and the locales change, memorizing top layers to connect the undergrounds and larger puzzle pieces begin to emerge making the puzzles MORE difficult.

Its fun until my mind flatlines and the puzzles become toooooooo difficult.

Honestly, the puzzles are not that difficult. You just need to listen to the NPC’s and they will inform you about what the secret is to progressing to the next section.

There are sections where the map is not the puzzle but items need to be found and given to people to move forward.

An example of a puzzle that drove me bonkers was at the Story Chalet and the Story-keeper tells you that there is a mythical second floor basement that housed the exact documents you are looking for. That means you have to figure it out. No help, just figure. it. out.

It took a few but I figured it out.

The obvious hand drawn visuals are an absolute treat. None of the gray you see in a lot of games, but lush green forests and deep blue oceans are always present. Its quite a side to behold, honestly.

The music is simple, like Carto. Just soft little tunes that more represent thinking music than your standard exciting, adventure soundtrack.

I love this game. Carto was an absolute joy to play. My wife does not usually hang out with me and play games but she always ended up wandering over to sit next to me and enjoy the game. Carto is a beautiful game with beautiful visuals and a beautiful, meaningful narrative. The gameplay isn’t revolutionary but that doesn’t stop it from being a complete joy to play.

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