It is a rare game that makes me want to play published adventures over a freeform sandbox, but I think Tales from the Loop is going to be one of them.
When I first picked up the game I was in two minds about it. The idea of playing kids in that 10-15 age range did not massively appeal.
Much of the inspiration material didn’t really do it for me either. I watched the first season of Stranger Things, but couldn’t be bothered with the second. E.T. bored me, and don’t get me started on Aha.
But reading the rules turned out to be intriguing.
I was born in 1968, I turned 12 in 1980. The world of Tale of the Loop was my youth, only I was in the UK and not in Sweden or Boulder City, USA. I was a latchkey child, I finished school at about quarter to four in an afternoon and both parents worked full time, not getting hom until nearly six. That hour and a half was pure freedom.
The place I grew up in, was pretty varied, it was commuter belt for the nearest city, so full of modern housing estates, but two streets away was a stretch of Roman road that lead to an iron age hill fort. We had rivers to play in and building sites to get chased out of. It was around this time that we discovered that you can build bicycles out of parts of old bikes scavenged from the local dump. That was a revelation!
These pastimes are what Tales form the Loop mean when it says that in your everyday life nothing happens. It was true, nothing did happen. There was no cinema in my town, no shopping mall (I am not even sure if malls had made it to the UK by 1980). We had a shopping precinct to hang out in. It sounds like a cliche, but we made out own fun.
Having read, and played Tales from the Loop, I get the whole nostalgia thing. I have enjoyed my playing time. What is especially cool is the glimpse of someone else’s childhood that you get from the published material. Ignore the machines, and the dinosaurs, it is little insights into what Sweden was like in the 1980s that has really grabbed me, this time.