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Freeware Garden: Forge

Loom 2.

I was 13 years old when I first encountered Brian Moriatry's Loom. It was on a friend's ninja PC that sported both VGA and AdLib cards and I was, understandably, blown away.  The complex, whimsical story, the wonderful graphics, the unique musical interface and the amazing music itself were unlike anything I had ever seen. Or have seen since.

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Loom, as I eventually came to realise, was much more than a one of a kind, brilliantly presented take on the then young point-and-click adventure genre. It was years ahead of its time. A tightly designed, excellently paced, clever offering that had an amazing story to tell and wasn't afraid to be short and playable without a walkthrough.

The only problem Loom ever had was that it ended on a cliffhanger of sorts. Yes, the evil Chaos' plan was partly foiled, but so many things were left unresolved we'd need the planned but never realized Loom trilogy to see them through. Or, of course, an expertly crafted fan sequel. One like the freshly released and very impressive first episode of Forge.

Forge, a game that actually bears the title of the planned Loom sequel , is a direct continuation of the original's plot and, appropriately, an impressively imaginative fantasy game with coulourful, atmospheric and at times grandiose pixel-art, a wonderful soundtrack, quality voice acting, great writing, underground crystalic greenhouses, guilds, a ton of little touches and, of course, a new way to solve puzzles.

Instead of using your distaff to play musical notes on the C major scale - you are playing as Rusty of the Blacksmith Guild - you'll cast your spells by drawing geometric schematics with your mouse. Schematics you'll discover by looking at objects such as cages and tram rail switches and that will allow you to vibrate, bend and rust things. Interestingly, drawing a mirrored version of each schematic will lead to the opposite effect and you won't be able to cast all spells until you fully fix your gauntlets.

Yes, the puzzle opportunities are ample. This first episode of Forge is both hefty and rather demanding; as it should be. Standing up to Chaos and an army of the dead hell-bent on corrupting the City-states of the guilds shouldn't be a walk in the park. It should be a slow, elaborate process that both taxes your mind and lets you take in the sights and story. And it is. It gloriously is.

Oh, and you'll be happy to know that Forge comes in a lavish digital package including a standalone Loom recap made in AGS, pdf manuals and a folder where the in-game rewards you'll earn will materialise.

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