It seems like there’s a theme amongst IGF grand prize winners. This year’s Seumas McNally Grand Prize went to Papers, Please and last year’s went to Cart Life. Both are mostly monochromatic, depressing exercises that are equal parts superficially mundane and stressful, where each day becomes more challenging and more miserable. And both are great.
If, for some reason, you haven’t had a chance to check out Cart Life, which details the day-to-day existence of three street vendors living hand-to-mouth, then now is your chance. Richard Hofmeier has taken it off Steam and has made it open source, available here, for players to customise, tinker with or simply play.
Hofmeier says that he’s done fixing bugs and supporting it, and that it’s time to open it up to the masses. And when his site comes back (his host took it down because of the spike in traffic) you should be among those masses.
It’s a sympathetic, yet brutal look at vulnerable people such as single parents and immigrants, struggling to earn enough to survive for another hard day. It’s simple, yet affecting, and more than worthy of your time.
It’ll be interesting to see what modders do with it, adding new characters, careers and narratives. After playing through all the original options, with varying degrees of “success”, I’d like a reason to go back and feel terrible all over again.