This game was first released in 1990 then re-released on CD-ROM in 1992, an "old" game by computer standards. However it does have full soundtrack for music and speech with a true point and click interface and there are no configuration hangups as the CD plays as an audio CD. (In fact you can put it in your Audio CD Player and hear the entire soundtrack without any punctuation or logic!) It even runs happily on a single speed CD-ROM without a sound card by plugging headphones or speakers into the headphone socket.
It is a delightful adventure story with good gameplay and fairly easy, but interesting and logical puzzles. There is no violence and you cannot die. The voices are clear English with a variety of fascinating accents to distinguish between characters, and the music is a very pretty, haunting theme that complements the magical atmosphere. Indeed, it is an ideal game to "cut your teeth on" if you are contemplating finding out what adventure gaming is all about.
The main character is Bobbin Threadbare, a young apprentice in the Guild of Weavers. At the beginning of the game he overhears an argument between the Elders of the Village and his guardian regarding the possibility of him being a danger to them as he has strong latent spell weaving powers. His guardian will not agree with the Elders and is turned into a duck for her trouble. However, before the Elders can deal with Bobbin, they and all the other villagers are mysteriously turned into swans and fly off through a tear in the space/time continuum.
You (Bobbin) are left in the deserted village with just the Elder's spell weaving Staff and a need to find out what happened to everyone and what was the 'Something About to Happen' hinted at by the Elders.
During your adventure, you are confronted with a whirlwind, get lost in a mountain, carted off by a dragon, threatened by Scottish shepherds, visit a glass city and have the chance to prevent the Final Apocalypse, to name just a few events. The climax is quite "splendiforous" and satisfying.
You start with no spells and have to collect them. This is done in a very ingenious way. It so fascinated children we know, they used the concept in stories they subsequently wrote at school. To collect a spell (or draft), you must click on certain objects and a group of four musical notes (threads) are played and identified. By writing these notes down in your Book Of Spells, you can use them at the appropriate time.
To cast a spell you use the Staff that appears on the lower part of the screen. The Staff is divided up into eight segments, clicking on the first segment on the left produces Doh etc....
An example of how it works is as follows: you will meet a seagull, for instance, and clicking on it produces four musical notes i.e. ray, ray, doh, me; (the combinations change with each new game), this is the draft for opening objects. You are then supposed to return the favour to the seagull by "opening" a clam which lies on the rocks nearby. You start with only three notes on your staff but as you progress and achieve a breakthrough, you are rewarded with an extra musical note enabling you to cast a greater range of spells.
The game has three options: Practise, Standard and Expert. Practise is just that -- learning to collect and cast spells; Standard repeats the name of the spell notes on the screen making it easier to remember them and Expert has you relying completely on your memory and ear for music.
We thoroughly recommend LOOM as an introductory adventure game for children or adults. As it is several years old, there is a good chance you can pick it up at a very reasonable price.
Copyright © Karyn Attwood and Brian Jones 1995.
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