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About the StorySomewhere between New Mexico and Arizona, three friends were driving through a barren desert of red rocks, and wide empty skies. It was the end of summer, the end of high school, the end of so many things.
And then they found the Cactus Blue Motel.
Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Story; Winner, Best Setting; Winner, Best NPCs - 2016 XYZZY Awards
The Breakfast Review
One issue with a lot of morality games is that temptation is so clearly temptation, and so distant from the player, that it's laughably easy to simply pick the right answer no matter how the protagonist has been characterised. Here, the temptation is more subtly drawn, and even though there seems to be hardly any assertion that we are tempted, we wonder if, after all, staying might be the right thing to do ... and in the end, it really is up to the individual player to decide whether one ending is any better than another. Well done.
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Rock Paper Shotgun
IF Only: All about Setting
In common with several of her previous pieces, itís playing with the awe-inspiring and the mystical that underlies reality. But the dialogue goes deeper, the characters are more developed, the pacing more confident.
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IFComp 2016: Five Authors and Six Games
Itís a magical realist story about the end of adolescence, feeling unmoored from a longtime group of friends, and the uncanny feeling of being in a strange place with a group of people you think you know very well.
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Number of Reviews: 11
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
Strengths include fantastic writing throughout, a sense of place, strong characters, and a powerful voice from a talented writer.
Weaknesses: Where is my soundtrack? What is the url for the motel website? How can I visit here? Why isn't there more? Will you write more? Can I subscribe to your email list?
OK, so maybe those aren't actually 'weaknesses' in the commonly accepted meaning of the word, but come on, let me visit the Cactus Blue! :)
You know, the setting and writing are pretty solid and really captivated me, despite being a bit too much of the short prose style and link-exhausting side. But then, as I kept playing to see where it leads, there it comes, tucked away in the literal middle of the road, blunt as a slap on the face: (Spoiler - click to show)the scene where they're walking to the phonebooth and they pretty much SCREAM OUT LOUD THAT ALL THIS FANTASY SETTING IS REALLY JUST AN EXCUSE FOR YET ANOTHER GAY COMING OUT SIMULATOR. just like Birdland last year and the myriads of twine output that make up most of IF these days. guess this is what we get for decades of puerile dungeon spelunking abuse...
5 stars despite it, thanks to gripping, vivid setting, lush presentation with fine typography and color schemes, some memorable characters, fine dialogues and storytelling, good dosage of drama, comedy and conspiracy... I don't know what to tell without giving out much, only that this is a must-play and well worth it.
There were strong horror vibes that I felt could have been emphasised a little more, which would have added greatly to the atmosphere, even if the piece as a whole was not aiming to be a horror story.
Dialogue felt somewhat canned, and at times melodramatic, punctuated with grammatical inconsistencies. The conclusion also felt simplistic, with the tensions between the protagonist and each of her two friends left unaddressed. While another outburst wouldn't have been desirable, I think a little more resistance from Lex and Becky, and from the protagonist herself, wouldn't have been amiss. (Glancing through the other reviews, however, which praise the game's writing, I seem to be in the minority here.)
I think a large part of my disappointment with the game can be attributed to how much promise it showed. The cover art is gorgeous, as are the title screen and the neon text prevalent throughout the game. Given the coherence of this theme, I was expecting an equally high level of crispness for the story, which unfortunately fell short, in my opinion.
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