Citizens have divided themselves into five guilds according to their talents and worldly ambitions; Weavers, Shepherds, Blacksmiths, Glassmakers and the Clerics. The guilds have become increasingly separatist towards each other but none have been ostracized more than the Weavers. So dedicated were they to their craft, that they eventually developed the ability to weave the fabric of reality using the mystical Loom on their remote island. They are feared for their so called 'witchcraft' and never leave their home or interact with others.
On the eve of his seventeenth birthday, Bobbin Threadbare overhears the Weaver Elders discussing concern over doomsday prophecies that somehow center on him. The mystery surrounding his birth and the Elders’ intent are further shrouded when a swan appears through a hole in ‘the fabric’ and uses the Loom to turn the Elders into swans.
Bobbin embarks on a journey to unravel the secrets about his past, the world’s future and how it all ties back to the LOOM.
Consider this an interactive book where you have to keep a sharp eye out for graphical clues to help you turn the page and get more story. Unlike other point-and-click games where you keep an inventory and try to figure out what to use where, all Bobbin has is a musical staff. Certain items or areas will give you notes in sequence that you must use for action or events (WRITE THEM DOWN). Some songs are only used for their specific purpose, but some can be played backwards to do the opposite, like ‘open’ played backwards is ‘close’. Players must search every nook and cranny and experiment to figure out all the little tricks and things to do.
Graphically, LOOM is colorful, but sparse and somewhat grainy as it was a port of an older PC EGA game. It is also nearly silent SFX-wise save for the score from Tchaikovsky's ballet, “Swan Lake” ever playing in the background, which is just lovely.
Overall, this is a great departure from the normal action oriented video games. The story is phenomenal and since you can’t die, players of all ages should be able to spend quality time here. It can get frustrating when looking for items to interact with, and some things can go unnoticed. Also, if you forget a tune, there is no way to relearn it so players should have a pen and paper handy. There are some horrendous load-times and choppy bits with the CD music, but they’re not deal breakers.
Loom and Beyond Shadowgate should be on every Engine-lovers list of things to do on a Saturday afternoon.
W. Eric Myers