Loom Review

Not exactly suitable attire for the beach

  • Developer: Lucasfilm Games
  • Publisher: Lucasfilm Games
  • Release Date: 1992 (8 July 2009 – Steam re-release)

Recently I wanted to take a screenie for my next lot of Choicest VGM which would involve a few tracks from the game Loom. However after playing it for a little bit I got sucked into the game once again and since I knew it only took me a couple of hours to finish the game last time, I thought why not play it again and make a retro review out of it?

Plot (4/5)
The game is set in a fantasy world, or maybe not, if the years they use are Common Era, the game would be set thousands of years in the future. Anyway, whatever the case, magic exists in this world and instead of the world being split up into nations, the world is split up into various guilds (the game introduction suggests it is the Age of the Great Guilds). You are a 17-year old boy named Bobbin Threadbare who is a member of the Guild of Weavers on the island of Loom. However, the Weavers aren't only able to weave conventional fabric but they can also weave the very fabric of existence itself. At the beginning of the game, the Guild Elders and his guardian, Mother Hetchel are transformed into birds and fly away. Bobbin has to find out where the birds are heading which leads him away from his island home and across the sea.

I really enjoy the fact that there are separate guilds and that their trades have an impact on how they perceive life. While there isn't much conversation or background story in the game there is enough to get by. Apparently the original had an audio cassette that explained the background story but I unfortunately cannot recall the story (I believe I was listening to a friend's copy of the tape while playing Loom at his place). Also, another reason I like the plot is that a lot of the actions you take has unforeseen consequences (sometimes violent) meaning this game has a more mature plot than what you'd originally expect when playing through the first half of the game.

Oh so it's no coincidence the giant anvil-like building is the home of the Blacksmiths

Gameplay (3/5)
Loom is a point 'n' click adventure but unlike its contemporaries like Monkey Island, it had a minimal user interface similar to point 'n' click adventure games of today. In this regard, one could say that Loom was way ahead of its time, eschewing the more complex verb + object mechanic seen in Lucasarts and later Sierra adventures for a system where you play notes in particular sequences to interact with the game world.

The only problems with Loom's gameplay is that it could seem too easy, especially on the easier difficulty levels. Solving puzzles is just a matter of clicking on an object to have a four-note bar of music play and then repeating that bar elsewhere when you need something done. This means the game can be quite easily finished in a couple of hours however considering how many adventure games have been "dumbed-down" nowadays this can actually work in Loom's favour.

Sound (2/5)
Voice acting is generally well done however the Steam version has some issues with the synching of sound to the actions on the screen which can be a bit jarring at times.

Music (4/5)
The music in the game is all sourced from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. For its time, the soundtrack was quite beautiful and it still is to some degree except that the MIDI format obviously has its limitations. If they ever made a remake of Loom, having a live orchestra version of Swan Lake is a must!

Graphics (3/5)
The graphics were sensational for its day and even now they are still beautiful in their retro way. Unfortunately the graphics are at a very low native resolution so you'll either be playing in a window or the edges will be smoothed for you if you play full screen.

"Swans! You know... birds!"

Replay (4/5)
This is probably the fourth or fifth time I've played Loom. I'm not quite sure why I keep coming back to it – maybe it's how the Romantic soundtrack by Tchaikovsky complements the game so well, or maybe the unique way of solving puzzles with musical notes. While it's been several years between replays I can still see myself replaying this game for a long time to come. Be warned though, the game only takes a couple of hours to finish which is its blessing and curse.

Polish (5/5)
The game is fairly well polished besides the sound synching issues mentioned earlier. Hard to go wrong with what is essentially a linear adventure game :).

"Come on let's twist again.. like we did last summer"

Score – 7/10

Although over 20 years old, Loom stands the test of time as a unique take on the traditional point 'n' click adventure game genre thanks to its ingenious use of musical notes as a way of solving puzzles. It also demonstrates how you don't need an original piece of music to make a beautiful and effective soundtrack; all you need is some Tchaikovsky and away you go! The only criticism I have for the Steam version is that I continually experience synching issues between the voice and what is actually happening on the screen.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam.

If you like this game, you might like...