While the game may do away with an inventory, verbs, and branching conversations, it does add a unique and well-designed game mechanic accessible through the main character s distaff. This system allows players to cast the equivalent of spells on various objects in the world. This system is quite different from spell-casting systems in any other games , and was especially revelatory in 1990. Again, the interface is entirely point-and-click, and it is a system that is very easy to learn.
The system is based around players hearing different tones in different situations and then repeating those tones on their staff, in a manner reminiscent of a game of simon says. If players double-click on a particular spinning wheel, a series of four tones will be played . These tones will also be reflected on the players distaff, which is displayed at the bottom of the screen. Below the distaff are a series of musical notes that correspond to positions on the distaff: c, d, e, f, and so forth, up to a full octave. When players hear the tones for the first time, these notes light up to show players visually what the different notes are. Players must then remember this series of tones (usually by writing it down), and then can repeat the tones in order to cast a particular draft or spell on a different object. Players repeat the notes simply by clicking on different locations of the distaff, a beautifully intuitive interface.
If players play the game in the expert setting, the learning of drafts becomes significantly more difficult. The musical notation is no longer present on the screen, and now players only hear the notes; they no longer flash on the distaff. This forces players to play it by ear in order to succeed. This, coupled with the fact that the tones required for a draft change with every game, gives the game significantly more replayability than many other adventure games. The musical nature of the drafts and of the entire game is a tremendous break from most other games that can be played with the sound completely off. Instead of just using music for sonic wallpaper, Loom beautifully makes the music an integral part of the gameplay.
The order of the tones can also be reversed to cause the opposite effect of playing the tones forward. The objects players double-click on to originally learn the tones all correspond to the drafts they teach players: double-clicking on a blade teaches the sharpen draft, double-clicking on water dripping out of a flask teaches the emptying draft, double-clicking on a pot full of bubbling dye will teach the dye draft, and so forth. Spinning drafts with the distaff is the primary method for performing actions on objects in the game. Sometimes the draft learned is not entirely obvious, and some creative thinking is required of players in order to figure out which draft to use where. Drafts that are learned for use in one application will turn out to have related but different applications later. For instance, a draft that at first hatches an egg actually turns out to be quite handy for opening doors. A draft that heals a human can also be used to heal a rip in the fabric of the universe. All the connections are subtle yet logical. The manipulation of these drafts makes up the primary source of puzzles in the game, and they are used in such a way that the puzzles are never overly convoluted. Loom is one of the few adventure games where, once a puzzle is completed, players never feel that the puzzle was arbitrary or capricious.