Loom is a game that has stuck with me, for all the right reasons. It has charm, an involving yet simple story and some wonderful visuals. It is also from 1990. That doesn’t seem that long ago to me, but the rapid approach of old age and senility tell a different story.
LucasArts had made several other adventure games before Loom, Maniac Mansion most notably. Historically Loom is a clear stepping stone between the earlier, more basic adventure games and the big hits that followed it like Monkey Island, right through to Grim Fandango. For a stepping stone, it has much love put into it!
Like Turrican II, this was bought late in the day of the Amiga. Games were being cleared from department stores and Loom was no different. I don’t remember why I bought it. I’m not sure if I had read anything about it before, but it soon found its way into my hands and then the car on the way home. The box was interesting, featuring a coloured visor needed to read the copy protection in the manual and a cassette tape. We played the cassette on the way home and it surprised us by playing the game’s prologue. The format was an audio play, outlining the background and a prologue to the game’s events. The play certainly added to the richness of the story.
Loom was different from LucasArts adventures before and after it. A minimalist UI only showed the protagonist’s (Bobbin Threadbare) magical distaff. Using this (and almost only this) you interact with the world. There is no use, take or look options as these actions are all situation dependent. I felt it made for a cleaner and quicker method of puzzle solving.
During the game, Bobbin meets two other young people, one from the blacksmith’s guild, the other a shepherd. I found out sometime after finishing the game that these two were to have games of their own. It was never really planned, as mentioned by the developer Brian Moriarty, but the idea was considered. Unfortunately Loom was not a hit for LucasArts so this would have further reduced the chances of a sequel. The games were tentatively titled ‘The Forge’ and ‘The Fold’.
It would have been great to follow-up with those games, but I don’t feel the same level of disappointment that I used to feel about similar things, even compared to my mid 20’s. I would get so frustrated that programmes like Firefly got cancelled or even that the Dreamcast’s life was cut short. It took a few years, but such trivialities don’t rile me nearly as much, but I would donate to a kickstarter if someone wanted to make those sequels.
Loom is a gentle, funny game that isn’t particularly long or hard. I was well written, funny when it needs to be, but turns very dark at parts. You can’t die in the game, or ever get stuck which is why I always preferred LucasArts adventures to what Sierra was offering at that time. If I wrote negative pieces, there’d be a lot of Kings Quest hate!