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.