After 11 years in limbo, acclaimed indie Cart Life isn't making a return as the award winning game's remake is "dead" and not "suitable for selling and buying"

Bearded, monochrome, pixel man brushes his teeth in the mirror in a screenshot from Cart Life's remake
(Image credit: AdHoc / Richard Hofmeier)

Cart Life's re-release, the melancholy retail simulation of a life spent running a food carts, seems to be cancelled. 

You might remember Cart Life as the kind-of-precursor to Papers, Please, what with its grim, sometimes overbearing choices between much-needed money and morality in a totalitarian state. Mix in some timed life simulation bits, and Cart Life became an instantly acclaimed hit when it first came out in 2010 and an Independent Game Festival award winner when it hit Steam in 2013.

Developer Richard Hofmeier subsequently pulled the game from Steam, instead opting to release the source code for free since he no longer wanted to update and upkeep the game while still charging people. Unresolved bugs in the source code largely meant that the game was nearly unplayable, though, prompting Hofmeier to begin work on a remake/remaster that would pull the classic out of limbo in collaboration with AdHoc Studio, an indie outfit made up of former Telltale leads.

At the time, the remake was set to release sometime in 2023 as the "definitive version" seeing as how the original was "never completely finished," according to its storefront description, despite being effective enough to sweep award shows in an 'unfinished' state.

In Steam forum comments, Hofmeier now simply states that "the project is dead" and "nobody is going to 'play' it because what we made isn't suitable for selling and buying." Apparently the remake's fate had been decided last October as "other contributors understandably moved onto more promising titles," though Hofmeier is still working on the game "in private." He adds: "It is better now to focus on hopeful outcomes elsewhere in projects that look to the uncertain future with a spirit of possibility."

Cart Life is still the only game listed on AdHoc Studio's official website, but we've reached out to the company for clarification on the project's status. 

For now, check out the upcoming indie games of 2024 and beyond.

Freelance contributor

Kaan freelances for various websites including Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, and this one, Gamesradar. He particularly enjoys writing about spooky indies, throwback RPGs, and anything that's vaguely silly. Also has an English Literature and Film Studies degree that he'll soon forget.