Cart Life Review
Developed by Richard Hofmeier, Cart Life is a casual but addictive coffee simulation for Windows, using only the WASD controls. In, the player controls one of the three central characters, all of whom are average street vendors in the sleepy little town of Boxford, England. The life moves at a slow pace, as the newspaper and coffee business slowly start to crawl along, while the citizens continue to spend their days watching television. When darkness falls, a mysterious stranger named Zapp enters the coffee shop and begins to steal coffee from the vendors. He claims to be looking for coffee with a special blend, and offers to sell any of them his concoction if they will help him find the owner of the java. As the townsfolk wonder what could be a thief in such a town, they begin to suspect that this man might be a wizard.
Drawing from the world of Richard Hofmeier's pixel art style, the game provides many references to other Hofmeier fan works, creating an interesting back-story for the game. By running the story in first-person view from each of the main characters' perspectives, you get a close look at the intricacies behind Richard's inventions, as well as how others, not least the townsfolk, playfully mock him. Unlike some point-and-click adventure games where the actions of the protagonist have no consequences, in Cart Life the decisions you make can have both positive and negative consequences. You can earn money to buy better equipment for your characters, buy houses and vehicles, and even get a sense of fulfillment as you see your vendors succeed.
Richard Hofmeier does a great job of integrating the interface and the visual novel into a coherent whole, creating a game that feels like it was written by someone who has experience in writing for video games as well as being aware of the challenges inherent in creating such a text-based narrative. Some of the choices are a little bit random, but in the end it doesn't detract too much from the overall quality of the story and the charming characters you come across as you progress through the game. For anyone who is a fan of the visual novel genre, or who wants to enjoy a simple, light-hearted narrative about good friends overcoming the challenges of life, then this is a game that you should definitely play. The interface may not be 100% perfect, but that's the case with most narrative-based video games, so it's not a deal. I give it five stars out of five because it is an extremely fun game to play.