Gregory Weir's Looming is one of those things that make you go hmmmm. You play September, a traveler drawn to a mysterious place called (surprise!) Looming; a newly discovered land littered with strange monuments and artifacts. You pen letters to your beloved January whenever you start or end another foray into the world (basically, whenever you leave the realm and come back) that seem to describe a deepening obsession. What is this place? Who was here before you? What does it all mean? Is it artsy? Hohyes. And, in typical fashion for Mr Weir, there's hidden meaning in everything, and a surprisingly intriguing story behind it all... if you manage to find it.
Control is very simple, using the [arrow] keys to move around, [C] to display your collection of items, and [X] to interact with things. Portals, which look like fiery rings, lead back to the "real world", presumably, and mark an end to your travels... at least, until you start the game again. Progress is automatically saved for you, so you can stop and pick up at any point you wish.
The goal is essentially to unravel the mystery behind Looming which is easier said than done. The land is vast, but striking out in any direction will yield something worth investigating. Certain items or obelisks may give you explicit directions on where to go, or they might just provide hints and clues to the backstory of the game. Just keep your eyes peeled for winking points of light on the ground that could be bits of a civilization's remnants, or... something else.
Analysis: As a package, Looming is very striking, with its stark visual presentation and lonely landscape, punctuated by strange sounds and the sigh of the wind through the void. The choice of sound here was extremely well made, and makes Looming one of the more atmospheric and mildly unnerving games I've played in a while, despite the "primitive" visuals. There's also an appealingly morose yet otherworldly vibe to the mythos permeating whole thing that reminds me of some of the grimmer legends and tales that circulate Native American culture. There isn't much direction to speak of, so your time is spent wandering the area (I hesitate to call it an "environment") searching for clues to what this place is, and what happened there. In this sense, it gives you a lot of freedom to explore in whatever order you wish.
Of course, for some people, this is also the downside. With so little direction, it's easy to get frustrated wandering around the place, and if you don't figure out where to go or what you should be doing, the whole spooky feel of the thing quickly takes a left turn into "What is this I DON'T EVEN"-ville and loses any menace or mystery it might have for you. It can be maddening to get the sensation that there's a really interesting story going on just around the corner, but you don't know which way to go to get there. And there is a story here if you can figure out where to go, and in what order to go there, one that you cobble together from the various things you find lying around.
Looming may either be an atmospheric foray into another land that will leave you with a lot of fodder for your hungry imagination, or a too-directionless piece of interactive art that you'll spend five minutes on before losing patience. With an evocative setting and rich atmosphere, it either speaks to you or it doesn't. Whatever it is to you, it's certainly unique, and definitely worth a look.
(Please allow page to fully load for spoiler tags to be functional.)
There are technically 8 endings in looming, though the first is really more of a false start, and two share almost the same necessary actions. After getting all 8, you'll be treated to a Notes section detailing the game's creation and making the plot a bit clearer. However, the best way to clarify things is to read carefully all the artifacts, hidden signposts, unhidden signposts, and letters in the game. The story they tell is the substance of Looming, so I won't give it away in this guide.
Just enter the portal you can see upon starting the game.
The difference between the first and second exit messages is:
how much time has passed.
To get the second ending, spend more than a minute in Looming; to get the first, spend less than a minute.
[This spoiler was edited and updated with information posted by Parse. -Jay]
The signposts which you began to unearth in ending 2 are the key here. Unearth the first as you did previously, then unearth the rest by following the directions given. When looking for the gears, they're vaguely north-east from the signpost which tells you to find them. There's a very small gap in the middle which you should walk north through. Other than that, happy hunting. After you've unearthed all the signposts, exit through the newly revealed portal.
4, 5, 6, 7
Now comes the great artifact hunt. As you explore the landscape of looming, you'll see that it's filled with little white dots. Sometimes, however, you'll come across a dot that's very slightly bigger and shinier than the other ones. If you're in doubt, stand near one for about 5 seconds and it should twinkle. These are what you need to find in order to finish the game; if you see one, go up to it and press "X" to collect it, as the game should indicate. My advice is to find all of the artifacts in one go. (Yes, even the ones you won't technically need; there's no way to be selective, and since the whole point of the game is the story, which is mostly conveyed through these little trinkets, I'd highly recommend that you catch 'em all.) The necessary artifacts come in four groups: 1)Oarbor Bones, 2)Tally Beads, 3)Path Rings, and 4)Shattered Diagram Pieces. There are also Lorem Tablets and Seecha Rods, which hold clues to the story. As far as how to find all of these things, you have two options. 1)Search the comments here to find pinpointed locations for them, or 2)Do what I did and blanket search the whole map. Yes, this is tedious, but it takes about as much time as searching the first way. How I did this was to start at one corner of the map, go straight across the map, move vertically up a good screen or so, (the less you move up, the less territory, the more closely you can sweep said territory,) and go back across, moving vertically again and returning to the previous side each time. This works within 5-10 minutes, with the only problem then being actually achieving each ending. [NOTE: As long as you don't close your browser window, and perhaps even if you do, you won't lose any artifacts, so each time you get a new ending, your artifacts will stay with you. However, any found signposts do sink between playthroughs.] To get an ending, find one of the four locations which open when you've found all of a certain group of artifacts. Within a rectangle of four spherical stones is the portal which opens when you find all the bones; in front of a triangle-like structure, the bead portal; in front of a half-oval hut, the ring portal; and the diagram portal is a bit different. It's found in the center of four light-posts with diamond tops. However, you have to manipulate the posts in order to activate the portal. Your completed diagram should have four circles, one at each corner. Inside each one should be a symbol, and somewhere on the diagram, each symbol should appear again next to a directional line. The symbols won't be translated. Instead, use their position on the diagram to relate them to the four light-posts. That is: top-right corner = top-right post, etc. Go up to each post, standing at theirr bases, and rotate them using "X". If it's not exact, no problem, but get it as close as you can, or the portal might not open.
Just find the portal in the middle of the very top of the screen.
9 - SECRET ENDING!!! (Sorta.)
All this ending requires is going the the four corners of the world...well, technically anyway. There are four more signposts in the world, which you may have found as you searched for artifacts, each hidden in one of the corners of the giant fence around Looming. Each has a message which you'll need to memorize. Each post corresponds to the light-post in the similar position, as with the circles on the diagram. The messages on the signposts indicate which direction the lights should be shining in. Add 1 and 1 and get 2, and you're all set. Congrats on beating the game...unless you read this walkthrough out of order. Which means you can't count. Which means you'll need a lot more than this walkthrough to figure out the game. Starting with a kindergarten education. But to the rest of you, Congrats!
Posted by: Ryan Thomas | July 8, 2010 10:23 PM