Cart Life

Cart Life is a unique game made by ‘Richard Hofmeier’, the game is billed as a retail simulation game, but in reality this game is so much more.

The game begins with you selecting a storyline, the two initial stories unlocked are Andrus the newspaper seller, and Melanie the coffee stand vendor.
I selected Melanie to start with, a recent divorcee who is struggling to raise money to take custody of her daughter Laura, the game starts with a conversation with Mel’s sister, who has offered to take us in, and then after a VERY brief tutorial, brushing our teeth and going to bed, we are dumped in the world.

Much like Melanie herself, you are thrown into the world pretty much clueless, you know roughly what you would need to start a business sure, but how does one actually go about doing so?
To run her business Melanie needs a sellers cart, equipment, stock (coffee, milk, cups, sugar…) , permits and more, but then the decisions begin, where do you set up? what quality coffee beans do you go for?

This bit was great fucking fun, it was the best simulation of waiting in line i’ve ever seen >_>”

And then comes the drama, the chores, and everything else that comes with life.
My first day, despite being reminded, I managed to fail at picking up my daughter from school, not only does she probably hate me, but the ex-husband comes by to bring her home.
It’s weird little scenes like this that have a surprising impact, particularly because the scenarios presented are just so lifelike.

I don’t even know what my ex-husband did, but I hate him.

After eventually getting my cart set up – an ordeal in itself requiring waiting for hours at the courthouse, selling my personal possessions to be able to afford stock and a bunch of other horrific stuff… Finally got the shop up. And then comes the serving – which is, similar to everything else about this game – stressful. As soon as a customer places their order you are on the clock, you have to remember what they ordered, physically type out “Be careful, its hot” and then take their money and do mental math to work out how much change to give them, all under 15 seconds or so, at which point you lose the sale and they walk away.

Get real life work skills to put on your CV

Other notes:
Graphically, very minimalistic, and greyscale, perhaps an ode to the grey monotony of the working life most of us lead, it is however sufficient enough to get the game across, and in some senses may actually heighten the experience as the brain as a lovely tendency to fill in the gaps with our imagination.
In terms of music, the game is equal parts depressing real life silence and quirky chiptune, its OK, but nothing too memorable.

Though I only spent a few hours playing, I can safely say that Cart Life is one of the best simulations of real life I have seen, much like the real world it is based on, this game is harsh, stressful and unforgiving. Every action has a reaction and it seems impossible to play without a certain feeling of strangulation. Whilst not what I would call a ‘relaxing way to unwind after work’, Cart Life is a very unique video game experience unlike any other, and playing it will make you understand how it won 3 prizes at IGF2013

The game is available as a free download on the authors website with 2 stories, or $5 for 3 stories

Actual Worth / Shop Price :  £5? / £FREE = ??
(I have no idea how much I would actually pay for this)
Should you play it : Give it a go, but be warned that this game is pretty much the exact polar opposite of a ‘good time’
Rating: 4/5