Loom. (computer adventure game) (Software Review) (Compute's Getting Started with Multimedia Applications) (Evaluation)
by Clayton Walnum
When Loom was first released, it paved the way for a whole new type of adventure game. An interactive story that required little control from the user, Loom's puzzles could be solved with only a couple of mouse clicks, yet still involved the player in the game's charming story of music and magic. Now we have a CD-ROM version of Loom (The Software Toolworks, 60 Leveroni Court, Novato, California 94949; 415-883-3000; $99.95). With its recorded voices and lush music, Loom is transformed from an already excellent game into a digital delight.
Although it's a game of magic, there are no wizards chanting spells and waving wands. Instead, you cast spells by playing a sequence of four notes, called a draft, on a magical staff. As the game progresses, you learn new drafts that allow you to perform myriad feats, everything from dying wool to making yourself invisible.
Loom's interface is an exercise in elegance. Although you control the game completely by mouse, there are no icons to puzzle over or word lists to click. To move Bobbin (your character), you simply click where you want him to walk. Bobbin then proceeds to that location, if he can, automatically avoiding obstacles. Once in a new location, you scan the screen with your mouse to find items with which you can interact. When the mouse pointer passes over a significant item, the item appears, in magnified form, near the bottom of the screen. You can then double-click the item to see what it does or to make Bobbin examine it. Alternatively, you can single-click the item to select it. Once you select an item, you can cast a spell on it by clicking on Bobbin's staff to produce a draft.
Items in Loom are rarely picked up, existing mainly as objects to examine, use, talk to, or cast drafts upon. In fact, Bobbin has no inventory and goes through most of the game carrying only his staff. The entire game is based on casting the correct spells on the correct items. (Sometimes you need to find your way to certain locations, but mostly it's the spells that advance the plot.) And because Loom isn't especially hard, you can forget spending frustrated hours trying to solve a single puzzle and instead enjoy the story as it unfolds before you.
The CD-ROM version of Loom comes with two CDs, one for the program and one that contains an audio prologue, including songs and a professionally acted spoken-word story. When you listen to the prologue, you'll discover Loom's rich and original story line, a tale that will draw you into the game. Brian Moriarty, Loom's author, has been writing adventure games for some time, having originally written several games for Infocom. In Loom, he brings his storytelling skills to full maturity, creating a spellbinding fantasy adventure.