Carto – An accessible game for learning Chinese

PublisherHumble Games
PlatformsSteam, Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch
GenresIndie, Puzzle, Exploration
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese
Japanese and more

I’m a huge fan of games with an adorable aesthetic. Despite not being that great at puzzle-solving games I decided to try this on my Nintendo Switch and play the entire game in Simplified Chinese. To my surprise, I found this game very approachable for Chinese learners.

About this game

Carto is a charming adventure game wrapped around a unique, world-altering puzzle mechanic. Use this power to explore mysterious lands, help a quirky cast of characters, and guide Carto on her journey back to her family.


Is this a game good for learning Chinese?

While Carto isn’t an original Chinese game, it’s still a great game for learning and improving your Chinese.

The game mechanic is simple to understand, even without fully understanding the tutorial at the start, it’s easy to see how the game works from the trailer. The dialogues are short and the language used is straightforward.

The challenging part lies in the puzzle-solving aspect. Not because the puzzles are exceedingly difficult, but because the dialogues essentially serve as clues for solving them. It is essential to fully understand the dialogues else you’ll run into the issue of being completely lost.

If fully understanding the dialogues is so important then why is this a great game for learners? Despite the importance of the dialogues, they are very short and the character conversations are brief. For learners with knowledge of HSK5 and above, the dialogues will be approachable with a few occasional dictionary look-ups. For learners with less knowledge and experience, OCR tools such as ShareX on a Windows or Google Lens will make make word lookup and translation quite straightforward.

The game isn’t all that long either (around ~10hrs on the first playthrough). Replaying this game is a great option for a game of this length.

For learning, I would recommend playing this on a bigger screen as the text is a little small, particularly on smaller screens like the Nintendo Switch or the Steam Deck.

There is a free demo on Steam and it’s often on sale with 70% or more off the price.

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