I Can’t Help But Be Impressed By Canto

By Adam Smith on October 15th, 2013 at 8:00 am.

There’s a gigantic gap in my gaming experience that makes me particularly unsuited to the task of writing about Canto, a fantasy fighting game that a group of industry veterans are working on in British Columbia. I’ve never played any of the Monster Hunter games, you see, and the video of Canto below suggests that it might be quite similar to Capcom’s series. Combat takes place against creatures of various sizes, from wardrobe to large house, and players can confront the beasties solo or online with up to four friends. There’s also a crafting system, although it’s not clear whether weapons and armour will be made out of corpse-bits from fallen creatures. Take a look.

Attractive, although the combat threatens to have a little too much of the WOW factor.

I do wonder if the creatures have done anything wrong or if this is essentially Deer Hunter: Fantasy Edition. Come to think of it, are the player characters in Monster Hunter simply enjoying ‘Monster Season’? I’d never really thought about that.

Doesn’t take much to remind me that Carnivores existed though, so I’m happy to have wandered along this tangent.

Via Indiegamer.

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48 Comments »

  1. MrEvilGuy says:

    Animal cruelty if you ask me.

  2. GamesInquirer says:

    The best bits seem to be what it borrows from Monster Hunter. Overall gameplay style, monster behavior, attack effects and what not. The worst bits seem to be what it doesn’t borrow from Monster Hunter. Monster and overall art design (yes, despite the fact this is technologically far superior due to the fact it’s on PC rather than a weak handheld), attack animation style and so on. I’m hoping for the best though as it seems competent (possibly more than Double Fine’s Brazen though that had way better style and some more implemented features) and I love that series, it should be cloned more by people who understand what makes it great (for example I don’t think Planet Explorers has the combat at all in the right way with the usual third person action controls they use instead of the independent twin stick type character/camera movement, granted it does a lot more different things so it can’t excel in all).

    As for your question, the overall idea of Monster Hunter games is that monsters are dangerous (lol) and you clear areas to make life for the towns/villages easier. The people live off the land much like the monsters which leads to conflict. Monsters can attack people or cause indirect or unintentional disasters, like the earthquakes of Tri’s single player story. Each hunting mission however may also have its own specific premise, ranging from things like that overall tone (a Tigrex is getting dangerously close to the village and has attacked people on the path or whatever, go put it down) to sillier or humorous things, sometimes even against the game’s mechanics (for example a character wanting you to capture a monster to keep as a pet or for arena battles or something, which wouldn’t be possible since the idea of capturing a monster is to be able to carve certain parts of it without damaging it or something along those lines, they’re still slain and you get part rewards). So, nothing like Deer Hunter really.

    Of course, nobody really cares about the story. We just want to painstakingly prepare for and then have epic battles with gigantic fearsome monsters that end up being like fighting game characters you need to learn inside out and exploit every one of their weaknesses and every advantage of your weapon.

    • zeekthegeek says:

      The animations in so far are placeholders, they just started an animation overhaul this week. Keep in mind it’s still a combat prototype, not a full game.

      • Viroso says:

        I thought the animations looked like Monster Hunter. I mean it looks like Capcom stuff in general. There’s that split second stop when a hit connects, lots of momentum after a strike, when characters get hit they even seem to fly the same way as in Capcom games, same speed, distance.

        • Wedge says:

          If by looked like Monster Hunter, you mean the poor approximations you see from a western developer generally. I do understand this is placeholder material, but applying 2d animation principles to your 3d animations is something crucial to these types of games, and something many developers fail to ever understand.

    • frightlever says:

      Substitute “wildlife” or “native population” for monsters and that’s human history right there.

  3. wr0ng1 says:

    I don’t think I’ve heard the Knight Rider theme played so dramatically before.

  4. Stevostin says:

    “Attractive”

    Quite the opposite. Crappy animation, generic art, bland gameplay. The only nice thing is the painty look.

  5. firefek says:

    Finally, Monster Hunter on PC for people outside Japan. Silly Capcom, now someone else is going to earn your money.

    Seriously, Monster Hunter is a fantastic game, an undark Dark Souls where you only focus on boss fights with huge monsters then use their bodyparts to make better equipment so you can kill better monsters. Plus, it had more than 10 weapons with individual fighting styles to master and very good animation to go with it. I love how deep the fighting mechanics go. It’s pretty obvious to me why this is one of the most popular games in Japan.

    My dream game is a cross between Skyrim’s world and Monster Hunter’s mechanics, imagine that budget.

    • Niko says:

      That would probably the only game I’d play ever.

      • firefek says:

        It seems that we are of like minds.

        • Niko says:

          Heh, according to MHP3rd guild card, I’ve played it for 614 hours, and before that I played MHP2 and MHP2ndG for roughly the same amount of time, so… yes.

          • Corb says:

            …so you guy are going to start a modding group specifically to do this with skyrim right?

            …on second thought don’t, there used to be a mod but capcom is actively hunting it down with an internet shotgun and even the creator is pleaing for people to not share the mod so he doesn’t get sued….

          • Niko says:

            Not sure if it’s really possible with Skyrim’s engine anyway.

    • Spacewalk says:

      Monster Hunter is a fantastic game but having to spend hours “hunting” the same monster over and over again just for that one item that you need which has such a ridiculously small chance of appearing is demoralising to the extreme. I haven’t touched MH3U in two weeks because I just got sick to the gills with the grind.

      • firefek says:

        That is a very valid complaint, farming for rare carves is a real chore. Capcom really artificially inflated the size of the game by doing that. However, I think that was Capcom’s way of making the player improve his skills, through sheer practice. I wish it could have been done more elegantly with less grind but I think the game would feel much, much smaller in scale as a result.

        The best way to approach it was to forget that you are grinding for items and instead try out new weapons/strategies, hone your timing and all that jazz. The most satisfying part of the game comes from your own mastery of the game’s fighting system after all. Still, it’s an imperfect solution to a design problem.

        • Corb says:

          while true, and I understand peoples dislike for grinding but, when something is that big of a pain to get there is a certain satisfaction and personal achievement when you finally do get it…or that’s just my inner gambling problem crying for attention.

        • Spacewalk says:

          I think that the combat carries the game on its own so they could increase carve rates across the board and people would still invest large amounts of time. There are a lot of monsters in the game and a combat is highly enjoyable and immensely satisfying but as it stands I feel like I’m giving everything and not getting enough back in this relationship. My solution is to allow a sure chance for every item at the end of each hunt but inflate the amount of materials required to craft gear which might be replacing one problem with another but at least it dangles the carrot a little bit closer.

      • GamesInquirer says:

        You don’t have to do anything like that, you do it because you want the item for the perceived advantage it will give you, which remains an item you can do without as the game’s still completable with far less than the best equipment. It’s primarily skill based and there are plenty sufficient armors to easily craft or buy and upgrade to a given performance level. Anyway, if you didn’t get into the game that’s fine, but people who like the series enjoy fighting (most of) the monsters, much like in a fighting game you enjoy fighting the same characters over and over and the items or other unlockables are a small bonus to that fun. It’s not exactly the same since in fighting games you fight other players equal to you while in Monster Hunter you fight (solo or with friends) clever AI of overpowered beasts but they have some things in common. If you don’t like fighting the monsters/characters, learning all their quirks as well as mastering your chosen weapons and just want to get to some ending quickly then these games aren’t for you and that’s ok, for you and for the games.

        • Baines says:

          Yes, I think you are supposed to be willing to skip/ignore some equipment.

          If you can’t get the plate to make a particular armor or weapon, then you just don’t make that armor or weapon yet, and instead make something else. You choose to farm a critter for two days straight to get one particular drop to make one particular item. The game itself generally doesn’t make you do it.

          Of course most players feel that they absolutely have to have it (particularly if it is a good item at a certain power level, but also just to have a complete set of items and to be “completing” the game), and do grind for days.

        • Spacewalk says:

          You really do need to keep your equipment up to scratch though, if your weapon doesn’t have a high enough sharpness factor it will just bounce off of the hides of some monsters or if its not doing enough elemental damage you’re likely to run out of time before killing anything and if your armour isn’t up to the job there are monsters who will just one hit kill you like it was as easy as breathing. 208 hours in has taught me to properly prepare for anything that could happen.

          • GamesInquirer says:

            Yes, but being up to scratch isn’t equal to having the best, rarest equipment you can gain access to at your progress point. As mentioned already, there’s plenty good enough equipment you can craft or some times purchase much easier. Since you mention weapons in particular (as in theory you could just dodge every attack and go in naked, a theory many hardcore fans do in practice and even take it to the extreme by bombing themselves to a sliver of health before taking on an elder dragon, intending to do a no hit/no heal run), those generally require far less materials than a full armor set would. 208 hours isn’t a ton mind. If one finds himself timing over at a given boss without using horribly underpowered weapons, he probably needs to figure out more attacking opportunities rather than constantly run circles while waiting for just one particular chance where it leaves itself wide open. There’s occasionally the possibility to use a somewhat wrong weapon class, especially if you’re playing solo rather than co-op. For example, I recall having a hard time using a sword & shield against a crab boss in MHFU, but after crafting a hammer with leftover materials I had accumulated it became manageable. Though I didn’t encounter anything like that after I started maining the great sword in later games it can probably still happen, possibly just with the sword & shield since it’s the weakest of the close combat weapons, but beginner friendly due to its speed, blocking and agility in item use.

    • Bugamn says:

      As someone that has never played Monster Hunters but loved Dark Souls fighting style (enemy patterns to be learned and different styles for weapons), how comparable is Monster Hunters?

      Your comment seems to suggest it is a lovely game. Should I dream?

      • Niko says:

        Being a fan of both games, I can say there are similarities: all monster attacks have visual cues, so learning to fight is learning monster and weapon behaviour, and while there are weapon and armour upgrades, player’s skill and knowledge is far more important. It’s comparable in pace, too (except a fight can take up to 40 minutes).

      • GamesInquirer says:

        It’s not at all comparable in pace. MonHun isn’t about exploring a seamless world and defeating tons of minions on the way to the important stuff, it’s almost a series of arena boss battles as you take hunting missions from an NPC then transport to the relatively small area of interest (a land mass divided in what is essentially a handful of rooms) to find and kill it (with ecosystem type elements affecting where exactly it may be or how it will react during the course of the battle), while in between you visit the same areas to do things like gather all sorts of materials from the plant and animal life to make the tools and items you may need, from potions to traps, though you also need some such materials for certain armor sets as they don’t only need boss parts to be crafted. It’s almost equal parts of fantasy survival and equal parts pure arcade design, equal parts serious and equal parts light hearted, it’s quite unlike anything else as a whole. Some people are put off by what to them appears to be design contradictions and wish for the series to become more like Skyrim or more like Dark Souls and what not but then it wouldn’t be the same game so they might as well play Dragon’s Dogma or whatever else instead. You do need some of the same disciplines as in the Dark Souls combat yet the systems differ quite a bit too, for example there’s no lock on as you tend to want to manually target certain monster parts as they move about (Monster Hunter 3U added a look-on function where you toggle the camera re-center button to instead look at the boss because of the 3DS’ lack of a second analog stick, but that’s far from an actual lock on, it doesn’t keep tracking it), while basic character control differs too as there’s no strafing (you can look at a direction and run in another but you turn your whole body to that other direction same as if you were running looking forward) and most of the weapons are also slower and initially seem harder to use since they’re according to the size of the monsters. It takes getting used to, but once you feel the awesome you can’t escape it! If you start with 3/3U then be prepared for a lengthy tutorial section that may annoy with mundane tasks but you should pay attention to it as it’s a great teacher of the basics. Tri on Wii taught me things I had completely missed after many hours of MHFU on PSP and helped me understand better many more of the series’ features. The gameplay had meaningful improvements and additions too, while the (hopefully coming to the West) 4th seems to be doing more of those.

  6. Fadobo says:

    This looks more than just a little bit than a monster hunter game. I would’ve said it looked good, if Monster Hunter Online wouldn’t look 10x more impressive already.

  7. Oozo says:

    I wonder: As somebody who has never played Monster Hunter either, but immensly enjoyed the fights against giant beasties in Dragon’s Dogma, would I enjoy this one? Or, to ask in a different way: Is the combat in Monster Hunter a bit like the one in Dragon’s Dogma?

    • 0positivo says:

      The combat in MH is even better than the one in Dragon’s Dogma… at least for the melee part. There really isn’t magic in MH, and they refuse to allow any form of sensible aiming for bows and bowguns, so DD takes the crown in that part.. but the viscerality (not sure it’s a word) of the various weapons, as well as the sheer variety of them (each one is basically an entirely different approach, even those that would sound similar, like all the different types of swords, there really is a huge difference) does help

      Basically, with MH, you gotta go up close and personal, while in DD you mostly harrass the bosses from afar to then sometimes dip into hand-to-hand

      Except the grappling of things, of course, which MH doesn’t have any… yet. That’s why I’m so looking forward to MH4, they seem to have taken some hints from the more acrobatic combat of other titles.

      That, and a Staff that summons Bugs

      • GamesInquirer says:

        Spoken like someone who doesn’t know the awesomity (while we’re making up words) of bows and bowguns! Agreed on most of the rest.

        • 0positivo says:

          I love bowguns too (not bows, bleurgh), but you have to admit that the control and aim scheme of the bloody thing is just simply ridicolous. I was SO expecting them to use the Wiimote pointer for MH3, or the stylus for the 3DS… but no, they have to stick to that system

          Any prolonged play with my trusty heavy bowgun ends up with me having to stop to put my fingers in ice. I’m not even kidding, it’s not just unintuitive, it’s actually and phisically painful

          Which is why I switched to Gunlance. At least, there, I aim in the general direction…

          • Baines says:

            I recall the Bowgun in the Wii’s Monster Hunter Tri being okay with the Wiimote control scheme. Unfortunately, it was about the only thing the Wiimote scheme did right. At the same time being the one thing that the classic control scheme did poorly, which tempted me to switch control schemes whenever I wanted to use a Bowgun.

          • GamesInquirer says:

            Both control schemes worked really well for me, I could switch back and forth seamlessly even though I first played Monster Hunter on PSP. I was quite surprised with how comfortable the Wiimote & nunchuck controls were for the melee weapons with intuitive and clever implementations, like the longsword’s slash + dodge left or right move being an attack button while having the Wiimote slightly tilted left or right and such. Having the d-pad for camera control wasn’t a drawback either since Monster Hunter so far (4 might be changing that, not sure, but it’s unnecessary really) utilizes digital camera control anyway. The Wiimote certainly could have had better button placement for some things (I’m so bummed Nintendo chose to make the GamePad instead of a Wiimote 2.0 but that’s for another topic) but it worked surprisingly well. I don’t find anything hard about the aiming, they just don’t make it agile like an FPS, the act itself isn’t complex or anything, just intentionally clunky. I wouldn’t mind if they changed it a little but I don’t consider it an issue.

      • Oozo says:

        Thanks, then. Sounds like I should get myself to moaning the fact that the series is never, ever released on a system I own outside Japan (or China, for that matter).

        According to the Wikipedia page, there is one called Monster Hunter Frontier G2 from 2013, though, which was released on PC. Fan translators, you most beautiful of creatures, get to work! (And since we are dreaming anyway: while you’re at it, do mod in those awesome grapple mechanics.)

        • GamesInquirer says:

          Frontier is the lesser offshoot cousin using assets and the engine from the PS2-era Monster Hunter titles and tuning the formula to a grindy MMO style. The release date shows recent because it gets updates/expansions regularly though it has yet to receive any of the gameplay improvements from later games in the main series, instead constantly bloating the core in its own way. It also needs a subscription (well, every home console Monster Hunter in Japan needed a subscription even before trying to become an MMO, much like Phantasy Star Online, but those at least offered single player and it only became really popular when it went to handhelds and ditched online play, though online play now returns to the handheld games too, for free, while the recent home console entries that we got in the West didn’t charge for online play either) and IP blocks people outside Japan making it a further hassle to play. I recommend starting with Monster Hunter 3G on 3DS or WiiU as the definitive localized game so far or waiting for Monster Hunter 4 to be localized. There’s also Monster Hunter Online coming, the Chinese licensed game, but I don’t have hope that it will turn out better than Frontier given its intended f2p market, outside slightly shinier, if garish, graphics. Another option would be Monster Hunter Freedom Unite for PSP as the final and biggest game of the pre-Tri generation but it’s a bit clunky and harder to get into while it obviously won’t get more games in the series so you may as well buy its new primary home, the 3DS.

        • Drinking with Skeletons says:

          The 3DS is actually an excellent little console, especially if you enjoy JRPGs. I played MH3 extensively on the Wii and got a 3DS for MH3 Ultimate and MH4. MH3U on the 3DS holds up damned well compared to the Wii, and I don’t even mind the lack of a second analog stick since they’ve got lock-on now. Adding a 3DS to your Christmas list might be something to consider.

          Now if they released a version of MH on Steam, with controller support, I would be ludicrously happy.

  8. Niko says:

    Combat dynamic looks like Monster Hunter indeed, so if they’ll be able to improve the current animations, it might become quite an interesting game.

  9. huldu says:

    Yet another terrible f2p without any content whatsoever, just another mob grinder.

  10. Aloe says:

    I hope they don’t just focus on iterating MH and also look to series like Soul Sacrifice. MH is great and I got about 500hrs on MHFU, but it lacks a great deal of co-op camaraderie, for instance: if i’m the group lancer with a shield the size of my body, I’d like to be able to defend my allies from attacks such as a tail swipe if I manage to position myself correctly.

    • GamesInquirer says:

      You can block things like fireballs, play the role of a healer with the right skills, provide buffs with the hunting horn, place traps between the monster and your friends, use items to make them release whoever they’re eating and other such things, there’s plenty of support potential in Monster Hunter, which ranged weapons also can excel at. Plus, it’s better to protect by a well timed blow that makes the monster flinch and stop its attack :)

  11. BeesAreScary says:

    Hiya, Canto dev here! We are a very small team – right now there are just two of us. We’re currently reworking the placeholder animations shown in that (rather old) prototype video.

    We’re making this game because we love a good co-op beat-em-up, and they’re so hard to find these days.

    • Niko says:

      Hello, looking forward to this. Animations look quite good for a two people team, and it feels like you are doing this combat dynamic right, so it’ll turn out to be something much closer to Monster Hunter than to, say, God of War and the likes.

  12. mont3core says:

    Looks like a more boring version of Vindictus

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