Carto is a magical and delightful puzzle game, developed by Sunhead Games, that has the player rearranging maps to create new landscapes.
You play as Carto, a young girl who was separated from her cartographer grandma in a storm. After you wash up on an island, you’ll have to find map pieces and put them together to find your way back. However, the way that you put the map pieces together will determine the layout of the island. If a peninsula is in the south, and you move that map piece to the east, the peninsula will move to the east.
Using this ability, you’ll also have to help islanders find their homes and missing objects, and also solve other puzzles that involve piecing together the map in new ways. Of course, there are limitations. You can’t just place ocean water against land; you need to find a piece with a shoreline on it. Also, the land needs to be able to connect against other land, for the most part.
As the game progresses, it introduces new ways to use the maps, like placing edges of a forest around a blank spot to make the full forest appear in the center. However, while some of these solutions are fully explained, others aren’t, meaning that you’ll have to play around quite a bit with your map pieces before the solution appears.
I’ve played Carto for two hours, and so far, none of its puzzles have been particularly difficult. While some have stumped me for a couple minutes, it never got to a point where I felt frustrated. With the cute designs and calming music, I’d imagine it would be hard to rage at a game like Carto. Even the puzzles that leave me guessing typically end with me saying, “Oh, I’m an idiot who was overthinking things,” after I solve them.
I’ve found that Carto to be a great game to unwind with at the end of the day. It’s the ideal game for sitting curled up in 20 blankets and drinking tea while solving some map puzzles. The game is short, with its Steam page listing it as a five- to seven-hour experience. I’ve enjoyed taking my time with it and playing it in bites between other games.