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Loom (DOS)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (168715)
Written on  :  Aug 22, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Say it with music

The Good

Bobbin Threadbare, weave the melodies using your distaff, listen to the sounds surrounding you, because each person, each animal, each object has a soul, and this soul is manifested in music...

"Loom" is the most remarkable and original adventure game ever made, perhaps together with Last Express. It is a game that deliberately avoids being like others. I don't know who was the first to have the idea of making an adventure game that was unlike anything else known to mankind, while knowing it will be a unique attempt and no game will ever be able to follow its steps. This game was made with the clear intention to produce an independent, intimate, lyrical work of art, a transparent, quiet fable with ether-like gameplay and music as the driving force of the game.

An adventure game built entirely on music - whoever thought of this first deserves an award for the most original idea ever conceived for this genre. Yet it is so simple! No inventory, no puzzles, and no other actions but play (or "weave", as the game calls it) melodies on your magic staff - could this really work? Was there any chance for such a game to be accepted, let alone understood? Yes, because creativity doesn't need to follow a special pattern, it can be expressed in the most subtle way possible and yet be evident. "Loom" is a product of pure creativity. It has nothing to do with the history of adventure, for which it bears no importance whatsoever. It is a game that is entirely unique and that was able to exist only because so much talent was put into it.

You have to play the game in order to believe it: it is possible to enjoy and even to be fascinated and enchanted by a game that offers basically nothing except music. "Loom" is the Buddhist of adventure games: it listens to the silence, it understands the beauty of a moment, and it doesn't need many words to express the very essence of life. Listening to the sounds and then recreating them is almost like meditation. There is only magic in the game, the magic of music.

But it is not only the gameplay that makes "Loom" so great. The graphics of the original version are perhaps the best example of really fantastic EGA art. It has a beautiful musical score - pieces taken out of "Swan Lake" by Tchaikovsky. "Loom" is the only game I know that uses classical music for background. And the story is a remarkably naive and philosophical fairy tale, that reminds me of those great books that children can enjoy, but whose true depth can be understood only by grown-ups. It is very simple, it doesn't try to be either complicated, epic, or psychological, and it also doesn't spit out morals at every corner. It is touching and beautiful like few other stories I know. Is it magnificently written, and subtly presented. Each encounter is memorable, each character is unique, and sometimes you feel the game carries you somewhere through a thin stream of air, up into the sky.

One word about the CD version: it features VGA graphics, much better music quality, and voice-overs. The graphics, that were fantastic already in their EGA form, became so gorgeous, that I couldn't play the floppy version after I saw them. The voices are simply great, with wonderful British accents, that fit the fairy tale-like atmosphere perfectly. The music was the biggest improvement. It sounds almost orchestral and brings even more magic into the game.

The Bad

Too easy, too linear, too short - everything has been already said. But the point of this game was to tell a touching, fairy tale-like story, and to concentrate on fine, purely musical gameplay, so there was no place for non-linearity, tough puzzles, or epic plot. No, "Loom" is perfect in what it tries to be, and it doesn't need to be anything else.

The Bottom Line

To call it wonderful wouldn't be enough to describe its sublime beauty. Music and magic are woven closely together to tell us a story with a touch of deep melancholy, as Chaos reminds us the world will never be the same, but with a hope to keep and to protect whatever is left to us. The game is fragile and pure, like an innocent girl or a saint. And it is good there was no sequel, because there can be no other games like it.