A Game I Love

a game I love

I don’t want to waste a lot of your time talking endlessly about my influences, but if the game goes anywhere, ever, someone will inevitably ask. I think it’s better to talk about a game that inspired you than a game that directly influenced you. So far as influences go, that’d be a simple and boring conversation (biggest influence on graphics, biggest influence on scene layout/co-op, it goes without saying). But these are only games I stole from, not games I love.

Here is a game I love.

If you’ve never played LOOM, it probably won’t resonate with you much today. It has only one puzzle: hear spell somewhere, cast spell somewhere else (with one variation: cast spell backwards to have opposite effect). Playing it at an age older than 12 means realizing how short the whole endeavor is, how barely sketched the characters are, and minimally you can explore each area.

But let me just synopsize what this game is like: you never once see the main character’s face. The art has a flat, angular look inspired by Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Your protagonist is of the Guild Of Weavers, who can weave the fabric of the universe itself (“The Pattern”) by casting spells (“drafts”) with a distaff. Spells are a sequence of 4 notes. The plot hinges on a cleric who raises the dead and multiple characters get transformed into swans (“transcended”). The game came with a half hour audio drama, on cassette tape no less, that gave you important backstory. It also came with The Book Of Patterns, for writing down your drafts, which implied in many places that it was several centuries past the year 6000. And the music is entirely entirely MIDI renditions of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

This game was released by a major studio hot off of three huge successes. No one would make this game today. I’ve played LOOM more times than I’ve watched any of my favorite movies. It takes only a few hours to run through, and with ScummVM I can play it any old time. I like reliving the story, though there’s a lot I would do differently. It’s worth remembering the spirit of creativity and exploration in adventure games at the beginning of the 90’s. Text adventures, so notoriously and willfully unique and bizarre, were only just giving away to graphic adventures, and not many rules had been written for the medium.

Back then, people tried things. I try to keep that in mind.


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