Richard Hofmeier’s Cart Life has become something of a critical darling, receiving quite a lot of positive press since its release in March of this year. Billed as a “retail simulation for Windows,” the game explores the use of video game mechanics and conventions in order to simulate a rather bleak world of desperation and drudgery.
When I say that I was expecting to enjoy this game, I want to be clear: I know that it is not intended to be “fun” in any traditional sense of the word as it applies to video games. I know the mechanics are supposed to be repetitive and generally unpleasant, and that it is specifically designed to evoke the sensation of futility and desperation that accompanies long days of hard work for not enough pay.
But the game’s premise and wonderful pixel-art aesthetic really hooked me, and I was very much expecting to have at the very least some kind of engaging or intellectually satisfying experience.
But that didn’t happen.