Monday, October 3, 2016

Cactus Blue Motel (review)

"Cactus Blue Motel" is a Twine game by Astrid Dalmady entered in the 2016 interactive fiction competition.  About ten minutes into playing this, I felt like it needed a soundtrack to go behind it, so I found "Apache Tears; native flute music."

Spoilers after the break

Three friends on a road trip stop for the night in a vintage Southwestern roadside motel. The motel turns out to be a magical place where visitors escape the stress of the real world and where time stands still. The player is treated with frequent choices. None of those choices seemed to bear much consequence on the direction of the story, but they broke up the text and kept me engaged.  I liked the font choice, a neon colored script which matches the description of the classic motel sign.

The best part of the writing is the sense of place. My only personal experience driving through the Southwest was limited to a trip from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam in a rental car (about 30miles/ 48 km). But reading this I could easily imagine myself as the protagonist: a recent high school graduate, uncertain about her own future, discovering this quaint motel in the desert, wandering around and chatting with the other residents.

My only disappointment was that I wasn't able to find an end-state to the game. I found myself wandering around repeating conversations with guests I'd already met, unable to open up any new options which might lead to a sense of closure.


  1. Did you talk to the guest in 201? You have to talk to everyone else first, I think, then do what the guest in 201 tells you to, then talk to Dean when you lose something important (trying not to spoil anything).

  2. Thanks for sending me back to this game. I had not entered the private room, which is necessary before room 201 will open up. I missed a lot! Story shifts in some curious directions, and I got the sense that there may have been some alternate endings.