olavlute1.jpgI've been following the development of Olav & the Lute for a little while, so I was thrilled when the developers wrote in to announce its release. Developed by by Shelly Alon and Daniel & Johann von Appen, Olav & the Lute is a short point'n'click adventure heavily inspired by the LucasArts classic Loom. The setting is a mystical land that's been ravaged by some catastrophe. A hooded figure awakens in a cave, having been placed there by supernatural appendages. This is Olav and he doesn't know it yet, but it's his job to fix the world.

In the cave are a book of blank pages and a lute. These are the tools that will allow Olav to interact with his world. The cave houses a magical loom that has fallen into disrepair. Olav's ultimate task is to reactivate it the loom by lighting a fire, filling a goblet, and repairing a sword. Like every puzzle in the game, you must perform each of these tasks by playing a tune on the lute. The lute has 5 strings, and certain sequences of 4 notes will cast a spell. Each magical tune you discover will be recorded in your book for future reference.

Olav has to venture outside the cave and explore a bit of his world in search of the songs that will repair the loom. When clicked on, some objects will reveal their tune to you. Solving a puzzle by using a tune can reveal another tune, which can be used to solve another puzzle, and so on. When you look in your songbook, you will also see that any tune can be played in reverse to invoke its opposite effect.

To cast a spell, first click on the object of your song, then click the lute to open its interface. Each note is represented by a small triangle of a different color. Simply click each one to play the corresponding note.

Like the loom, many of the things in Olav's world have seen better days. As you guide Olav around, helping the odd inhabitants (like a pair of gas-masked campers and a sad ghost), and discovering new music, you will experience a slice of what seems to be a much bigger story. There is a weight and depth that could drive a much longer game. The developers began this project as a proof-of-concept and a learning experience, and had to keep it smaller than it could have been in order to finish it, but I hope its success encourages them to expand upon this beautiful, evocative adventure.

Be aware that Olav & the Lute has no save function, so be ready to play it in one sitting. The game only takes around half an hour to finish (depending on how long it takes you to solve the puzzles). Olav & the Lute is available as a free download for Windows, and can also be played online.