A very different adventure game.
Let me begin this review by saying that I'm reviewing the 256-color, Sound Blaster compatible version of LOOM.
LOOM is one of those games that you remember long after reaching the end. I first got this game when I was six or seven, when it came bundled with the family's first computer, along with The Secret of Monkey Island and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe. I still have it, and continue to beat it at least twice a year.
I could go on about how the adventure game as a genre is on the verge of dying out, or how games aren't made like this anymore, but that would be both stating the obvious and going off on a tangent unrelated to the game. So here it is, people. The review.
If you talk to anyone who has played LOOM, the first thing they will probably bring up is the unique gameplay. There are no combat scenes to speak of, and nearly everything you do involves ''drafts'', or combinations of musical notes the main character must sing in order to cast spells. Progression throughout the game depends on increasing your vocal range in order to reach higher notes, therefore increasing the number of ''drafts'' you can sing, and allowing access to higher-powered
Controls and Interface- 8/10
Controls are straightforward, seeing as this is a point-and-click adventure. You point to where you want to go, then click to confirm. You have no inventory whatsoever. To sing, you must point and click on sections of your distaff, basically a magic stick. Bobbin (your character) then raises the distaff and sings. Puzzles are just as simple. The thought process you go through when faced with a puzzle is ''Okay, what drafts to I know that can get me past this? Can I cast them? Where do I have to be to make it work?''
The story is the meat of the game. The year is 8021 AD. You are Bobbin Threadbare, a seventeen year-old apprentice of the small and secretive Guild of Weavers, located on an island known to passing sailors as Loom.
When you were born, your mother was driven out (read: turned into a swan by the Guild Elders and exiled - told you this game was strange) because she brought an unforeseen child out of the Loom. Apparently the Loom is the only way anyone is ever created on this island, and no one ever gets any, which might explain why the Elders are always in a bad mood. However, no one ever told our little Bobbin that his mother was swanified, only that she's dead and buried in the Weaver's Graveyard, which, by the way, holds a grand total of about six graves. Bobbin's life is spared, though we are never told why. Maybe the Elders needed someone to pick on.
For seventeen years, Bobbin is raised by his godmother, Mother Hetchel, who teaches him how to tap the power of the Loom to perform simple tasks, like opening and closing baskets. The Elders don't like this. They call her to a meeting and hold a trial, the charge being teaching the secrets of the Guild to outsiders. Bobbin walks in on this, but before he can do or say anything, Elder Atropos raises his distaff and casts the ''swanify'' spell on Hetchel. But the draft fails, and Hetchel is turned into a swan's egg. Before the Elders can figure out what the hell is going on, a swan busts in and turns the Elders into swans. Now Bobbin has to find out what the hell is going on, whereas you, as a player, have to figure out what LucasArts' strange fixation with swans is.
Sound and Graphics- 8/10
The 256-color version of LOOM is simply amazing, and the sound is beautiful. LucasArts used the music from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, a very fitting choice, given the subject matter. Whenever I play the game, I let the title screen play until the music finishes. When I beat it, I let the credits roll. Even though the graphics aren't up to par with today's polygonal models, textures, and colors, the game manages to get the point across, many gamers might not even notice that they're dealing with a 256-color palette.
Game Length- 6/10
This game is very easy to beat once you know the puzzles and places to go. Technically, it took me about five years to beat this game, but that was because I picked it up at the age of seven, lost interest between the ages of eight and twelve, and picked it back up and beat it at the age of twelve or thirteen. After I got to playing it again, it only took about a week to finish it. Now, at age seventeen, I can pop it in the CD drive, boot it up, and beat it within two hours.
Replayability has never been a problem for me. Adventure games are traditionally one-shot playthroughs, but I tend to play them over and over again even though there's nothing new to see. I've heard that the 16-color version, when played on Expert difficulty, rewards you with a special cut scene, but this cut scene is included on all difficulty levels in the 256-color version.
THE BOTTOM LINE- 8/10
If you can, buy it. It's cheap, though a bit hard to find. I'm looking at eBay right now, and there are four copies - two for Mac and two for PC, ranging in price from 2 to 10 dollars. Believe me, the experience is well worth ten bucks.