To honour the late game development company, LucasArts, I thought it would be a good idea to play one of their old games. You’d think that a fan like me would have a problem to choose a game among so many good ones, especially since there are so many of them that I haven’t tried out yet, but the choice wasn’t that hard to make. Due to the several jokes I’ve seen about someone called Bobbin and how he asks people if they’re his mother, I couldn’t resist the temptation to finally play Loom and finally, after years of waiting, I finally got the chance to play it last weekend. I knew this game would be a bit different from what I was used to, but not too different from how the jokes make it out to be.
So who’s Bobbin? That would be the game’s playable character, Bobbin Threadbare. He’s a 17-year-old orphan in a grey cloak, who lives in a village among people called Weavers, who basically all look like druids to me (Bobbin included). Everyone in the village, apart from the woman who raised Bobbin, an old woman named Hetchel, fears him and wants to get rid of him, but end up being transformed into swans by the village’s magical loom instead. When they all fly away, Bobbin is told by Hetchel that dark times are coming and that there’s nothing else to do but to either wait for it to come or run. Bobbin therefore decides to follow his people to safety and goes on a quest to find the swans with the aid of the distaff (which looks more like an average wizard staff to me) he picked up from the floor.
When you run the game, you get to choose difficulty. I always go for the hardest difficulty with point-and-click adventure games, because they provide more details to the story, but the others might make the game easier and faster to finish. After that, Loom appeared to be just like any other point-and-click game at first glance. You point at what you wish to interact with and click on it once or twice to make your playable game character (Bobbin, in this case) interact with the object in some way. In most games like this, you usually either have a menu of options, like “Pick up”, “Talk” or “Examine”, at the bottom of the screen for each interaction or simply click on the object itself to receive some options of some kind. The player would usually also have a visible inventory somewhere to store the objects you’ve picked up. With Loom, you can forget about most of that stuff. Bobbin has only 2 ways to interact with the characters and objects in his surroundings. You can either double-click on the object or character you wish to interact with to look or talk to them, or click on them once before using the distaff to cast a spell on them. Yup, no need to waste time with inventories and collectable object in this game! Instead, you click on the distaff to play it like a musical instrument. Sadly, this wonderful system has a downside…
To work the distaff, there are a set of drafts the player needs to memorize. These drafts consist of 4 music notes each and can be found by interacting with certain objects and characters in the game. Since Bobbin’s set of usable tones on the distaff is limited to 3 notes in the beginning, he’ll need to practice using each availlable draft to gain experience often enough to be able to use higher notes. Although, judging from my experience, Bobbin might end up learning the needed notes anyway as you progress in the game, but I still recommend that you test each draft at least once or twice to make them easier to memorize or (even better) get something to write down each draft on as soon as you hear them. This was a big issue for me, because I have a lousy memory and once you get closer and closer to the end, the drafts might not be able to be heard a second time. On top of that, just to make the game a bit harder to cheat on, each game (and possibly saved games too) has its own set of drafts, so you can forget about searching for the notes for each draft online. If you’re good at remembering music, this should be a breeze for you. If not, get something to type down the drafts and listen carefully when you find them.
All in all, Loom wasn’t all that bad. The game is a bit short and I hate being forced to take notes when I play games, but the story isn’t too bad and it was great to play a point-and-click adventure game where you get to use mainly magic spells for a change. With a little more work into the story and an easier way to remember all the drafts, this game would have been really awesome! It’s a shame that LucasArts never made a sequel to this game, because it could use one – preferably one where the drafts are easier to collect and store in-game.
This game gets a 3/5. Not bad.