Cart Life Review. OLE!
Cart Life is one of the most interesting specimens that has hit
the indie gaming scene. This isn't some other RPG or side-scrolling adventure
game. Instead, Cart Life goes about telling a story through tedious gameplay
and graphics with a minimal , yet fitting style.
As Cart Life starts, the player will be introduced to the menu (How shocking!). But from the menu, a character must be selected. This isn't the average character selection though. Most games have characters that may only have differences in their starting stats, but Cart Life's characters have differences in their personalities and faults. The character that was chosen in the scenario used for review was Andrus Poder. Andrus is addicted to cigarettes and his only friend seems to be his cat.
So, what does it matter if he has addictions and another life to take care of? Well, Andrus needs to have a cigarette from time-to-time, or he gets headaches and will start acting irrationally toward customers. This can affect the income that he has the potential to bring in, and can affect his ability to take care of his feline friend. Luckily, Andrus has a great work ethic. This allows him to have longer work days.
Before all of this becomes too necessary to Andrus' well-being, a cart is needed for him to sell his goods. These goods are newspapers. And this is also where Cart Life can grate on some people. Every paper that needs to be sold must first be bought. So, hope that the right amount that is bought will also be sold in the day. Next is the need to stock the shelves. You know, the part that any other game skips over. First the bindings must be cut from the stack of papers. To do this action, a prompt comes up that must be typed as it is seen on the screen. Cut the bindings. Forget the punctuation and suffer the consequences. Sometimes, these moments can really get on one's nerves.
As the work days end, Andrus needs to hope that he has enough money for food for himself and his cat, Mr. Glembovski. Sometimes, if the day didn't go well, Andrus or Mr. G can't eat. This can also become frustrating, but it is nice to run into a game that can really make you care for a stack of pixels. Other times, the player may decide to restart once they can finally get a grasp on exactly how this game works. There is no shame in restarting in order to help make someone's life better, even if they are fictional.
Just let it be known, the gameplay can become repetitive whether the player cares for the character or not.
The soundtrack of Cart Life is the thing to really keep coming
back for. While the game can become depressing, the soundtrack is always
amazing and upbeat. Does it fit the rest of the game, though? It turns out that
somehow it does.
The best part of the soundtrack is the boxes on the screen that show exactly what the song is called and who made the song-- A truly amazing way that an indie game can help show off an indie musician.
Other than the soundtrack, sounds are minimal. Talking is heard through odd sounds. Not odd in a bad way. The voices have a certain charm to them. Think Charlie Brown's teacher, only less annoying.
Cart Life's look is that of a dingy black and white film
from the 50's. The characters are all magnificently rendered in pixels.
The pixels don't hold back the character design. Characters can
always convey their feelings through their body movements and mannerisms. It's
a wonderful art that many devs don't capture in their game's art style.
Cart Life can grate on a person in many ways. The nature of how
tasks are handled can be over-the-top annoying, especially for a writer that
already types all day. This isn't a game for writers though. This is a game for
people that want to connect to characters that are dealing with real problems
that can be found in the real world. This game didn't hit me in the way that I
was hoping for, but it has the potential to touch many others.
While Cart Life has its issues, this is a game that everybody should at least try.
*Thank you to Richard Hofmeier for providing Indie Luchador with a copy of Cart Life*