Carto First Impressions

First impressions of Carto as demoed at the Steam Game Festival! Slated for release Oct 27, 2020 by Sunhead Games | Humble Games | X.D. Network Inc..

Format: PC via Steam

Carto. Fisherman saying to Carto, ahoy there little one!

A friendly local

The Steam Game Festival: Autumn Edition brought tons of game demos and developer live streams together in a single online event. I’m happy to be able to share my first impressions for several of the featured demos, including Carto. Carto is an exploration-based puzzle game. Players gather map fragments and piece them together to explore islands and find their inhabitants.

Carto. Placing a map fragment with a house depicted on it

Placing a map fragment with a landmark such that the edges align

The demo for Carto starts off with a young girl named Carto seemingly alone on an island. By exploring around she can find map pieces and connect them (or not) to the land she’s already on. Pieces MUST line up at the edges but can be rotated and moved as many times as desired. The demo shows off several terrain types to match: water, plains, and forest.

Carto. Entering a couple's one-room hut

Some landmarks can be entered for additional objects and characters

On some map fragments, Carto can encounter other people, objects, or animals. People will typically converse with her and tell her about the island. Most notably they may give her directions to get to other people or landmarks. By rearranging the map pieces Carto has already found to match these clues, new people or landmarks may appear to continue the story. Interacting with objects or animals seems to yield additional map fragments.

Carto. Map fragments laid out such that another house appears

Rearranging map fragments to match clues and get a new landmark

From the demo, the gameplay of Carto seems very simple. Its success will likely be based on its story capabilities and the intricacy of the clues provided for how to connect map pieces to trigger new interactables. The demo shows off a brief glimpse of an inventory to collect and interact with objects, which could be used for additional puzzles but was not yet fleshed out as such.

Carto. NPC giving a clue about finding good soil where forest, coastline, and grassland meet.

An example clue

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Expectation

Overall, Carto seems like a charming puzzle game. The characters are cute and the basic puzzle mechanic is simple enough to grasp. The story and characters will likely be a primary focus so I’ll be interested to see how they are developed for something longer than a demo. I also think additional puzzles/riddles to interact with will be key or the map fragment puzzles will likely get repetitive fast.

Have you found anything you’re excited about at the Steam Game Festival?
Let me know in the comments below!

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