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Gaming Review

Downloadable reviews: Cart Life, Terraria, Dollar Dash

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Released on Wednesday, Mar 27 2013

Each week, Digital Spy rounds up the biggest downloadable gaming releases with reviews and trailers. This week's games include the newly-announced 2013 Independent Games Festival 'Grand Prize' winner, a robber-centric four-player arcade game and a console port of a well-received 2D sandbox title.

Cart Life

Developer: Richard Hofmeier
Platforms: PC
Price: £3.99 / $4.99 (Steam)

Created by Richard Hofmeier, the IGF-winning management simulator Cart Life is finally released on Steam. It's a superb game that should be experienced, but be aware that the title is deliberately a little misleading.

While all of the playable characters in Cart Life do wind up setting up their own businesses and attempting to turn over a profit, it's more a simulation about life and the stresses that come with it.

Melanie is a divorced mother who has to deal with a custody battle for her daughter, while smoking addict Andrus sets up a newspaper stand, hoping to earn enough cash to sign a lease.

'Cart Life' screenshot


Cart Life likes to throw you into the deep end, and it can get overwhelming initially as you struggle to manage your valuable time. But the beauty is, when you screw up, you do feel terrible. The game does a fantastic job at evoking empathy for these characters.

No matter how tough things get, though, you're meant to battle through them - just like life. And when you reach the end of a character's story, there's a unique sense of satisfaction that you've made it despite all of the hardship.

All of this is compounded by a distinct monochrome pixel art visual style that perfectly complements the mundane nature of life.

A few bugs aside, Cart Life is an astounding achievement. The recognition it has been receiving lately is nothing less than deserved, and if you have an interest in indie games at all, this is absolutely worth checking out.


> Buy 'Cart Life' from the Steam store



Dollar Dash

Developer: Candygun Games
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Xbox Live Arcade, PSN
Price: 800 MSP (£6.85 / $10) / £7.99 / $9.99

Dollar Dash is a goofy four-player arcade game where four robbers duke it out to collect the most money with collectible weapons and power-ups.

Mechanically, it plays like a twin-stick shooter as you'll pick up projectiles such as snowballs and fireworks and aim them at your opponents.

Unfortunately, both the movement and the shooting feel a little clunky, and you rarely get the sense that you're in complete control of your character.

But more disappointing is how the free-for-all matches play out. The standard mode 'Dollar Dash' sees all players picking up money and depositing in a vehicle when it arrives. Attacking and hitting others will make them drop what they're carrying.

Dollar Dash


The problem is, the action is too chaotic and aimless. Everyone constantly hits everyone and gets knocked down, and at some point it becomes just boring.

The best mode of the three is 'Save the Safe', where the robber holding the safe gradually earns more money. The mayhem is more focused as everyone is hunting down the safe-carrier, meaning there's less random flailing around.

A bevy of unlockable hats, perks, taunts and so forth are available to spend your collected money on to customise your character, although there seems to be little point as there is barely anyone playing online at present.

The concept of Dollar Dash isn't a bad one, and there is a charm to its cute presentation. But for an action game, it's rather dull and unexceptional.


> Buy 'Dollar Dash' from the Steam store



Terraria

Developer: 505 Games, Re-Logic
Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade (reviewed), PSN
Price: 1,200 MSP (£10.30 / $15), £11.99 / $14.99

After nearly two years on the PC, sandbox game Terraria makes its first appearance on consoles with an extremely solid port of the original.

Players are initially dumped into a randomly generated 2D world which you are encouraged to explore.

It can be quite daunting and while the original can be rightly criticised for not providing enough helpful advice to new players, the console versions have the benefit of a tutorial mode and a handy world map.

With a copper axe, pickaxe and shortsword at your disposal, you have the means to build a shelter and wander the region killing any monsters in your way.

Terraria (Xbox 360)


The joys of Terraria have been kept fully intact here. Constructing your house remains fulfilling, but it's the exploration of the map that's the standout part of the experience.

Gathering resources to upgrade your inventory or maybe immerse yourself as you discover secrets underground, the game is open and provides enough incentives to let you decide how to enjoy the world.

The console version also features split-screen multiplayer if you're playing in HD as well as new enemies, though for those who have spent dozens of hours on the PC, there's likely not enough to lure you back to play a second time.

There's no better time than now to get into Terraria if you've never before. Though we give the slight edge to the PC thanks to the keyboard and mouse, we thought the adapted gamepad controls worked extremely well. Which version is best will depend on what your preferred platform is.


> Buy 'Terraria' on the Xbox Live Marketplace


What downloadable releases have you been playing recently? Add a comment in the space below!

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