Cart Life is a unique experience that many people will passover, and that is a terrible mistake on their part.
Cart Life is somewhat of a story-driven small business simulator: you will be in charge of running your character's small business (your character determines what your business is), but (game) life and the story surrounds and interrupts the gameplay through out. Running your business requires lots asking around, getting (and keeping in stock) various supplies, and then the process of making the product is translated in various button presses, clicking and typing.
If you don't see the appeal in the gameplay, just realize that a lot is on the line. The writing really tugs at you to like these characters or at least realize them as developed. Any little thing could keep you from "succeeding" in Cart Life: you could be too hungry to talk to someone that could really help you out, not reading instructions carefully could lead you to a bad buy, not picking the right dialogue options could close off doors. It's hectic and complex. The in game clock is always running, even during pause menus, and with each second you might be screwing up your character's life. Rent needs to be paid, a mother needs her daughter, etc. The pressure that the game puts on your character translates perfectly to the player.
Don't be fooled by the infectious upbeat music and monochromatic presentation, this game is deceptively intricate.The difficulty and complexity of the game almost feels like a short form Dark Souls, except with no respawn and second chances. There are all these variables (characters, events etc.) and anything can go wrong. Cart Life feels too real at points, I even found myself questioning my own life points.
With how crowded the market is, a unique experience can be hard to come by. Think of how many games are just swapping words in an effort to be different (mana is now energy, this protagonist has slightly darker hair, etc.). It is not very often something truly different comes along, and for that Cart LIfe deserves your time and money.
*There is a free version of the game available on the author's website http://www.richardhofmeier.com/cartlife/
but getting the Steam version gets you a character and makes a neat meta statement.
Posted: August 24th, 2013