Platform: DOS; Windows; Amiga; Atari-ST; CDTV; FM Towns; Macintosh; TurboGrafx CD;
Review: One of the most original adventures ever conceived, Loom largely succeeds at just this, while failing to engage the player in a captivating story or with interesting characters.
As a 17 year-old member of the guild of Weavers, you must guide Bobbin Threadbare through a mystery, trying to learn why you’ve been outcast from the guild, and why the rest of your guild have been transformed into swans. There is no inventory. Progress through the game entails casting spells with your staff by weaving musical notes, with more powerful spells available as things move along. For example, you may learn that the spell for Open is the note sequence C-D-E-D; play this sequence on a particular object and see if it works. On easy difficulty level, you are shown the correct notes for each spell. On medium, you see the notes played on your staff without the letters. On the expert level, you only hear the notes. Unless you are tone deaf, even the expert level is not too difficult.
While many of the spells are interesting, it is usually obvious which spells are needed where. And with no other types of puzzles available, progress is incredibly easy. I finished the game in a mere four hours, even on expert level. Unfortunately, the characters (of other guilds) you meet are classic stereotypes with rather banal dialogue. Even Bobbin rarely acts consistently, vacillating between an appropriate meek teenager and a highly philosophical elder. Moreover, there are few surprises in the plot until the ending, which is confusing, alluding to a sequel that never happened.
Thankfully, the music is gorgeous, heavily borrowing from Tchaikovsky. There is a CD-ROM version with 256 color graphics and voice acting. Sadly, to fit the game on the CD, much dialogue was cut (though the acting is generally below average), as were additional scenes that rewarded the player for playing on expert level.
It is easy to see why Loom has a cult following, as therein is a unique experience in gaming. And while I would recommend this to anyone looking for something different, it is too short and underdeveloped to be considered a great game. For what it’s worth, If I had made my countdown the top 60 games, this probably would have made it.
Contemporary Rating: Medium.
Cruelty Rating: Merciful.