* Compressed with ZIP. Free Unzip tools are available for most systems at www.info-zip.org.
Have you played this game?You can rate this game, record that you've played it, or put it on your wish list after you log in.
Playlists and Wishlists
RSS FeedsNew member reviews
Updates to downloadable files
All updates to this page
About the Story
A text adventure in the classic Infocom style. It begins with you delivering a sealed package, contents unknown, to J. Daggett Winton, noted archeologist, explorer, inventor, mathematician, philosopher,... and recluse.
Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: March 18, 2008
Current Version: 1.0
Development System: TADS 3
Baf's Guide ID: 3122
- View the most common tags (What's a tag?)
|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 3
Write a review
As a navel gazing IF puzzler of a certain age, I feel that Stephen Gorrell's neat medium sized TADS debut Recluse from 2008 deserves more trumpeting that it has hitherto received. That is, any trumpeting at all judging by a quick search. One review in over a decade doesn't suggest that it has become contemptible through familiarity.
Recluse bucks the modern IF trend, being a set of cleverly choreographed, sequenced puzzles leading to a surprisingly tangential conclusion. Surprising as the hitherto tenebrous plot suddenly takes on solid end game substance via several large screen dumps when you access the mansion. One NPC also displays chameleon like qualities late in the game.
The initial premise involves your efforts to deliver a package to a reclusive billionaire inside his mansion; after being summarily ejected using traditional methods of egress you explore the Infocom like grounds, finding various items to take and manipulate, including one early problem that had me stuck for days (Spoiler - click to show)taking the caterpillar requires a lot of repetition....
I liked the user friendly nature of play; no time or inventory limits, a warning if you have put the game into an unwinnable position (a rare occurrence thanks to its cleverly constructed nature) and built-in hints.
There are a sprinkling of misspellings and a few grammatical errors (again why these things aren't spell checked is beyond me when so much effort is put into other facets of the game) but nothing to really dilute the enjoyment of the game.
The ending of the game suggests a sequel, but as eleven years have now passed without one I imagine that the author has moved on to pastures new, although I can find no more examples of his IF creativity anywhere.
Rather like the only guy still wearing flared jeans on the bus, Recluse may be old fashioned but the denim is of fine quality.
While flying through the air, your nose already preparing to courteously greet the gravel waiting to catch it, you ponder the manners of the butler who just threw you off the porch. Surely he overreacted just a tad...
Since a simple knock results in a rather unpleasant scraping of your face on a less than welcoming road of little rocks, and from the looks of that butler (and the fact he effortlessly hurled you several meters far), you decide that sneakiness and subterfuge might be a better tactic for delivering this package.
Instead of a Dungeon Crawl (although we are briefly entertained in one of those later in the game...), Recluse is an Estate Romp. Its basic structure remains the same though: a big ol' puzzlefest. In the best tradition of the genre, there isn't really a plot or story to speak of. Instead, the author finds other ways to engage the player.
--A good introduction goes a long way. It sets the mood and puts a question, a magnetic objective if you will, in the player's head. Even if the game itself doesn't tell much of a story, the intro resonates throughout the playthrough and pulls the player along. In Recluse, the adressee of the package you must deliver is a once-famous homo universalis.
> "J. Daggett Winton, archeologist, explorer, inventor, mathematician, philosopher. Director, Winton Antiquities Research Foundation. Chairman of the Board, Winton International. Holder of thirty-seven patents in fields as diverse as Genetics and Game Theory. Rumored to have the largest privately-held collection of historical artifacts in the world."
Since the untimely death of his wife however, he has locked himself away and became the titular "Recluse".
This character made me think of Howard Hughes, and especially of Leonardo Dicaprio's over-the-top portrayal of him in The Aviator. The prospect of meeting such a character at the end of my travails worked as precisely such a narrative magnet as I have described.
--The game exploits brilliantly the major strength of parser IF: leading the player on a tour of exploration and discovery. Recluse boasts an immensely gratifying map. The biggest part of the game-world is a grand manorly estate, with lots of varied environments. Its central fountain and gravel paths give way to wilder and more unkempt stretches of brush and rough clifftops. There are carefully locked off areas, some of which come as a surprise when finally unlocked, others enticingly visible from a high vantage point without obvious means to get to them...
--Modern IF heavily emphasizes the integration of puzzles into the story. This isn't quite possible for a puzzlefest that sports, at most, the flimsiest of framing stories. In Recluse, the puzzles are integrated with the surroundings. They flow organically from the environment. All the puzzle elements and the obstacles are naturally present in, even expected on a lordly manor estate. The one puzzle that could be viewed as overly convoluted is justified by the personality of the owner of the estate, J. Dagget Winton the recluse... Interestingly, this most complicated of puzzles yields an anticlimactically mundane reward. This sort of thing happens regularly in this game.
--The writing joyfully (perhaps even childishly) plays with lots of IF tropes, twisting them upside down and (sometimes) setting them back right side up for an extra twist.
The narrative voice in Recluse is the most powerful immersive element in the game in my experience. Not a true character in itself, it does act as a mediator between the player and the game. First and foremost, it does its job admirably: It clearly describes the locations, the protagonist's actions within them and the consequences of those actions. On top of that, it paints an elaborate and detailed picture of the surroundings and it evokes a sense of space by recounting the travels of the protagonist.
"You soon realize you're in for a bit of a hike. The path passes to the east of a large greenhouse, then bends northeast toward the cliffs overlooking the ocean. The ground turns rocky and starts sloping downward. Before long you're winding down stairs cut into the face of the cliff."
I love this. It opens up the map and lets me walk alongside the protagonist with the wind in my hair. The view from the cliffs, once you get there, broadens your sense of wide-open space even more.
But these things are not so special... Other games have them too...
What made the narrative voice stand out most were the many asides, serious and playful alike. Like a storyteller around the campfire stepping outside of the story and adressing the audience, pointing out a funny detail or drawing the attention to an important feature. Most of the time this happens in a gentle, almost confidential tone. The one time it nears the border with intrusiveness, it does so to great comedic effect.
--When the outdoors adventuring options on the estate grounds are at long last exhausted, the player enters a high stakes endgame. The reward for getting through is a delightfully lengthy epilogue which finally explains the backstory of J. Dagget Winton. It also provides an obvious opening for a sequel.
Alas! Recluse was written 14 years ago, which makes the chances of ever joining our protagonist on a next adventure seem slim. Perhaps, if it is not too forward, I could urge the author, Stephen Gorrell, to follow the example of Michael J. Coyne, who wrote Illuminizmo Iniziato 15 years after its predecessor Risorgimento Represso.
--A wonderful parser puzzler. Beautiful game-world and a friendly, welcoming narrator. Strongly recommended.
I don't tend to write many reviews about games I've played, but I felt I should somehow step-in here, at least with a comment: Recluse looks quite underrated to me. Every bit of it was enjoyable, and it did remind of the old classics.
Highly recommended, and it's not too long.
|The Lost Labyrinth of Lazaitch, by Larry Horsfield|
Average member rating: (2 ratings)
Magor the Sorcerer has discovered that the Grimoir of Lazaitch is not lost afterall! It is being kept in a Labyrinth far to the East. Up to Alaric Blackmoon to overcome all obstacles and obtain it. "The Lost Labyrinth of Lazaitch" is a...
|Lydia's Heart, by Jim Aikin|
Average member rating: (28 ratings)
"Lydia's Heart" is a large, complex game with a serious tone and seven or eight NPCs you can converse with. The genre is low-key horror: There's almost no actual blood, but there are several ways to die in a very frightening way. Various...
|Gateway, by Mike Verdu, Michael Lindner, and Glen Dahlgren|
Average member rating: (35 ratings)
In the early twenty-second century, adventurous citizens of Earth can travel to a place called "Gateway": a long-abandoned alien space station, now rediscovered by humans and turned into a jumping-off point for risky but potentially...
Games that most resemble an Infocom work by David Cornelson
If you've played a game that "feels" like an Infocom game, add it to the list.
One Hit Wonders by deathbytroggles
Good games by authors who apparently retired after their one gem.
Great treasure hunt games by Molly
Good treasure hunting games in the vein of Zork and Adventure, although they may not necessarily be set in caves.