Before continue to read this review, if you want it, remember you can always download a free version here: http://www.richardhofmeier.com/cartlife/
This version let you play (not on steam) the whole campaign of two of the three characters, so if you're in doubt, get it first. But give the game some time, not just a few minutes.
Cart Life is focused on story, and the everyday life of simple workers trying to survive in the real world. You'll see yourself engaged in their hard and time-consuming tasks like paying the rent, bills, take care of a son or a cat, eating, addictions, dealing with people and their own problems.
You'll be challenged everyday to manage their time at work, travel, and common tasks. Earning money is a constant concern, and it will be very hard. Meantime (a very scarce time) you have to know your new city, what you can get at local stores, for how much, and what you can get to improve your business. To get a life, to be happy and healthy, not just to survive, and you will be concerned by your character in a sad, depressive way.
Cart Life is not an easy game on any aspect.
It takes me 10hs just to have a relatively good ending with a single of the three characters.
Although the description like "a retail simulator" is true, don't expect so much depth about it. The mechanics are very simple - sometimes dull - and most of the time you'll struggle with them. It's not a game design issue, but a perceived and mostly well-done attempt to reproduce the boring and mechanical aspects of a simple work.
I had some difficulty to put the game to work, and the single author doesn't give us any support or patches. I still getting very rare crashes (like 2 or 3 in 10 hours).
But some things i saw people complaining doesn't seem like bugs to me, like the cash register refusing to open sometimes, or realizing you have no change, and you'll lose your customer. I saw these things perfectly fitting the game purpose, and i think most people will see them like bugs because of the random aspect of the game, or the absence of a good AI. So, every time you open your cash register this random aspect will define how much money it have inside, and you can see the same customer many times on a single day.
The art style is fabulous for those who had an MSX or similar by the 80's, and although we had not mouses at this time, the gameplay is very closer, sometimes dull like i said before. The soundtrack are really good and old school too, and the music will stay in your head for a long time after playing.