Have You Played… Loom?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Of all LucasArts‘ adventure games, Loom has arguably aged the most gracefully. B

rian Moriarty’s whimsical fantasy tale ditched the convoluted interaction system that supports the majority of LucasArts adventures, and unified all the game’s puzzles through Bobbin Threadbare’s signature distaff. Every obstacle Bobbin encounters can be overcome by weaving “drafts” musical spells that range from dyeing wool green to turning straw into gold.

Moriarty’s aim was to simplify LucasArts’ formula and create an adventure that was easy to complete. At the time, critics and players alike believed he went too far, complaining about the game’s brevity. Nowadays, with so many games demanding cavernous chunks of time to finish, it’s far easier to see Loom’s appeal. Since every puzzle involves the Distaff, you’re rarely stuck for a solution. Hence the story ticks along at a leisurely pace which fits with the game’s light-hearted nature. It isn’t Telltale levels of simple. There are a couple of absolutely horrible mazes, most notably the cave section, which ironically was included due to internal anxieties that the game was too easy.

Minor stumbles aside, Loom is a delightful little fantasy, a breadcrumb trail of daft fairytale encounters including a city made of glass and a dragon afraid of fire. The dithered art-style helps stave off the ravages of time, lending its 16-colour landscapes a timeless quality, and the voice-acting is pitch-perfect, tonally somewhere between Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It may not represent the absolute cream of LucasArts’ crop, but it is the game least likely to give you a migraine between the jokes.

51 Comments

  1. JuergenDurden says:

    YESSS!! i was about ten and i loved every second of it.

    i am kind of afraid to go back though…

    • Konservenknilch says:

      Don’t be. It holds up.

    • G-J says:

      I recently showed this to my 6-year-old son, who ended up playing through the entire game twice, loving it (with some help from Dad with the trickier bits). It remains a beautiful game, with a wonderful story and mythology.

      And I love the music. If you ever wanted to listen to the theme song in its original orchestral glory: link to youtube.com

  2. MadTinkerer says:

    You mean the latest masterpiece of fantasy storytelling from Lucasfilm’s™ Brian Moriarty™? Why it’s an extraordinary adventure with an interface on magic… stunning, high-resolution, 3D landscapes… sophisticated score and musical effects. Not to mention the detailed animation and special effects, elegant point ‘n’ click control of characters, objects, and magic spells. Beat the rush! Go out and buy Loom™ today!

  3. Oneiromancer says:

    I loved this game when I was a kid and I really need to play it again some day.

    That being said…”light-hearted” and “whimsical?” It may start out that way, but there are some pretty dark plot turns in the last part of the game. Especially with no sequel, the game ends on a pretty bleak note for most of the people in the story. It’s not as bleak as, say, Game of Thrones, but there’s no Happily Ever After like most fantasy stories at the time.

    • mechabuddha says:

      I was going to post “Ask me about LOOM” but this is far better. I salute you!

      • mechabuddha says:

        Is there seriously no edit function? I have no way to hide my embarrassing mis-reply?

        • li says:

          You’re fried..

        • XxBrentos9xX says:

          Commentating on RPS is akin to playing Dark Souls. Punishes us for our mistakes but we keep going back because we’re all masochists

        • Premium User Badge

          Phasma Felis says:

          We all love RPS, but it has basically the worst commenting system on the modern internet.

          There used to be an edit function, but they removed it because it was apparently so poorly implemented that it regularly caused malfunctions that were even worse than not having an edit function.

    • Konservenknilch says:

      Steve Purcell of Sam&Max fame got his career start here with hilariously gruesome death animations. (Or Indy 3, whatever.)

  4. RuySan says:

    “and the voice-acting is pitch-perfect”

    The talkie version is botched. They cut much of the dialogue so it could fit on the CD. Either play the FM-Towns version or the Amiga (which i actually think it looks better than the VGA)

    • illuminerdi says:

      OR…use ScummVM to make your own Frankenstein version! You can have the Graphics of the Amiga and the music/sound/speech of the FM Towns version!

      Best of all worlds :)

    • Scrofa says:

      I actually prefer the original 16-color version to CD just because a lot of stuff got cut. But then again there’s this Frankenstein’s monster shenanigans and FM-towns and Amiga version hold up on their own very well. Hell, I’ve played all of the versions and I just love Loom in every iteration. What a masterpiece, it just touches all the right strings of my heart (does heart has strings or was it soul? I don’t believe in souls so I’ll go with a stringy heart meat).

  5. Laurentius says:

    Of course I did play it. It’s great and one of tetaments to how good company LucasArts was back then. Also I wouldn’t call it light-hearted, it has rather a bit sad, melancholic nature.

  6. Moonracer says:

    I played it when I was quite young and ever since applauded it as the only adventure game I finished. I falsely though, maybe that one time I was focused enough to do it. But this article smashed that fantasy. Oh well, it was still a good game.

  7. Yoofaloof says:

    Just one of the handful of games I’ve actually managed to finish. Although basic in today’s standards the ending of the game was, I thought, fantastic and probably even made me cry at the time. I revisited it a couple of years ago for old times sake and the game, music and storytelling still holds up. A classic.

  8. Reapy says:

    A game truly ahead of its time.

  9. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Wonderful game, although I have a severe case of childhood nostalgia, I’m sure it’s excellent without it.

  10. Risingson says:

    “Convoluted interaction system” for the other Lucasarts games my ass, sincerely. Loom is a great story-driven game with a great interface, but simple as a lollipop, very short, badly remade in 256 colours (a complain I also apply to Monkey Island), and depending on musical puzzles has never been a good idea. The gimmick, where you can do a spell and its opposite, wears out pretty quickly as well.

    Super Mario Bros 3, so convoluted in its difficulty. Imagine, if you don’t jump in cliffs, you die!

  11. vorador says:

    Loved it, but then again loved every graphic adventure LucasArts did.

    While it was easy, i wouldn’t call it lighthearted. The feeling the game gave was melancholic, with the ancestral powers (The Guilds) of the world dying. And the ending was quite powerful.

  12. illuminerdi says:

    I remember seeing LOOM at game stores as a lad but because I was a Sierra fanboy that never played Lucasarts games until Full Throttle I ignored it despite several opportunities to buy it for quite cheap.

    A few years ago I fired up ScummVM and played Loom and nearly crapped myself when I realized what I’d passed up for so many years.

    This is a brilliant, fun, beautiful game with excellent puzzles that are *just right*. It’s a bit on the short side, but I’m always in favor of too short vs too long.

    Highly recommended – track down a copy and use ScummVM to play it on pretty much any device you choose. Be warned, while it might seem cute it actually does get a bit dark at points. About 2/3 of the way through the game a character actually explodes. Like, gibs and all. I was quite surprised by that from what had otherwise been standard fantasy fare up to that point…

  13. swiftshlock says:

    It had that wonderful extra scene if you played it on highest difficulty… revealing what’s really under the hood of the main character (and getting rid of a pesky evildoer while doing so)

    • Shazbut says:

      In my memory, you actually got to see Bobbin with his hood off but I was searching for this character portrait a while ago when I replayed the game and I could find no evidence it existed. Do you ever see what’s under the hood in any of the various versions of the game?

      • Premium User Badge

        ComicSansMS says:

        As mentioned, you only get this when playing on the highest difficulty.

        In the cutscene where Cob guards Bobbin while Mandible is out on the balcony, he asks Bobbin to take a peek under his hood. Bobbin agrees and in the normal game mode, it then cuts away to Mandible and we just hear Cob screaming. When playing on highest difficulty though, we get to see what Cob sees:

        • Konservenknilch says:

          Hum, I also got that on easy mode. Don’t play on hard since I’m somewhat tone-deaf. Different versions maybe?

  14. Shazbut says:

    I used to lie in bed as a kid and fantasise about a sequel to this game. The intro started by following a group of swans flying over the landscape to the tune of Waltz of the Flowers.

    • illuminerdi says:

      Can you even imagine what a sequel could look like now? I’m not talking full 3d fancy graphics, but just more highly detailed 2d art with some basic lighting effects. Maaaaaybe a cel shaded 3d rendition could work, but I’d still want it to be point n click.

      Either way, I would LOVE to see a sequel to this game. I’m a little bit sad that whoever owns the rights to it (assuming it’s not still held by Lucasarts) hasn’t tried for a Kickstarter yet…

    • sledge says:

      Forge – the unofficial Loom Sequel

      link to forgegame.com

  15. kyynis says:

    I replayed this recently and it has aged magnificiently. Might be my nostalgia speaking, but I personally found the EGA version better than the others. Visual style seems to lose something with expanded palette. Also I much preferred the non-looping background music – exploring those eerie and still landscapes in silence made the scenes with music stand out so much.

    Anyone planning on playing this should listen the audio novella included with the original boxed edition first. Here’s a handy youtube-link. Manual is a good read too if you’re interested in the world of Loom in detail.

    Also, Bobbin is a total asshole to that nice dragon lady in the header image.

    • Doubler says:

      I don’t think it’s nostalgia. I first played Loom some time in the early 2000’s and chose the EGA version over the VGA one because I thought it looked and felt much nicer.

      • RuySan says:

        Amiga>EGA>VGA

        Game designers back then just didn’t know what to do with so many colours. 256!! Can you imagine??

  16. prof_yaffle says:

    I haven’t played this game. However this post made me check on GoG and there’s a Linux version on there. I’m installing it now.

  17. theapeofnaples says:

    Played it for the first time last year. Incredible atmosphere.

    • Konservenknilch says:

      Played it in the nineties, still love it. But yeah, the atmosphere. You almost never get something this melancholic from big studios. Ubi maybe with their more indie offerings.

  18. geldonyetich says:

    Loom is another great game where I pointedly mutter, “Well, I’ll tell you what I haven’t played. I haven’t played its sequel.”

  19. Gaff says:

    This was one of the first games I remember playing (on my Atari ST, back in the day). I love almost everything about it, from the artwork, to the story, to the fact that it came with an audio cassette (remember those?) containing a bunch of background story done by pretty decent voice actors.

    It’s well worth the $6 it currently is on Steam, and completely holds up today.

  20. MikoSquiz says:

    I quite enjoyed both minutes of it, but I think it’s a good candidate for the first instance of “we wanted to make a movie but they told us we had to make a game instead”. It’s got about five puzzles in it, as I recall, and at most you’re approaching them with basically an “inventory” of half a dozen “items” (which you can, of course, reverse).

  21. PancakeWizard says:

    If ever an LA game needed the HD dust-off treatment, it’s this one. Also, Fate of Atlantis.

    • girard says:

      Considering how awfully the Monkey Island HD remakes botched the excellent art direction of the original games, I’d say this game is doing just fine without the ‘improvments’ of an HD dust-off treatment…

  22. alms says:

    That ScummVM AA filter or whatever is unsightly, though.

  23. swaan says:

    Oh I remember Loom. I remember it very well! How loom.exe would simply freeze my PC and nothing helped :(

  24. ansionnach says:

    Loved Loom. Only played it at the highest difficulty so you had to work out the musical notes by ear. This wasn’t easy for me as I’m not musical, but I still found it a fun challenge.

  25. TheVigilante says:

    Grass green, I hate that color.

  26. philosoaper says:

    first talkie game too…