Scavenger Hunter






Genre:   Puzzle adventure game

Developer & Publisher:    Sagewood Software

Released:  December 2006

PC Requirements:   800 MHz or better processor,
720MB free space, video card and sound card 64MB RAM, Win 9x, WinXP, Win 2000, WinME





by Looney4Labs


Panic time! Your mother-in-law is coming for a visit.  You must prominently display that ugly family heirloom vase she gave you last Christmas.  You go to the closet to get it, but it’s not there.  You’re positive that’s where you put it as soon as you unwrapped it.  Nonetheless, it has vanished into thin air!  Or has it?

Factoid: The game was originally written as a text adventure in the 1980’s.


Thanks to the good folks at Sagewood Software, we now know the truth!  An alien race (Scavengers) existing in a slightly different dimension (and thus unseen) have plundered our planet for centuries, taking small objets d'art here and there.  (And you thought you were just absent-minded.)   Now, it’s time for us Earthlings to take back our own.

The Inter Universe Insurance Corporation (IUIC) has formed an elite team of agents called Scavenger Hunters to deal with this persistent problem.  You are a member of this dimension-traveling crackerjack group.   Your dual pronged mission (should you choose to accept it) is to recover these valuable items and to destroy the worlds the Scavengers build, thereby preventing their return to Earth.   

You are on your own and are depending only on your wits, your powers of observation, and your (hopefully keen) sense of direction.  The more successful the mission, the more substantial your monetary reward at its end.

Though the story is not deep and never develops beyond the initial information, it does provide the reason for your travels.

Factoid: There are 1,000 plus possible layouts.


Scavenger Hunter is designed to deliver fresh challenges with each new game, and thus to be endlessly replayable.  There are currently nine possible worlds, with the potential for more.  The engine’s artificial intelligence (AI) randomly selects five for each restart, changes all puzzle solutions, and generates a new inventory list.  Stolen items are placed randomly.  Gates that worked last time may not work this time, and vice versa.

Each game begins in the IUIC office.   There you’ll acquire an inventory of stolen property as well as a few items to aid you on your quest.  Then it’s off to the inter-dimensional portal to begin the real exploration. 

Investigating new worlds is a big part of the fun -- but initially, I was quite muddled.   Each world has multiple arrival and departure points, some functioning and some not.  Contributing to this bewilderment was the fact that I often did not know which world I was on.  There was no in-game map, no short-term instructions or goals, and no non-player characters to interact with.   I was alone! 

I possessed a device which should have alleviated some of that perplexity, but it has no instructions and I did not understand its functioning.  However, before starting my second game, research using both Sagewood’s excellent hints file and  GameBoomers’ Hints forum taught me its use and it became a great help.

Also, by the second game I learned to draw a detailed map of each world.  Enjoyment increased; befuddlement decreased.  Lucking onto a book identifying the worlds enabled me to feel a bit less lost in space.

Though the dual prong mission adds depth to the game, it necessitates revisiting each world at least once.  It is possible to end the game without collecting all the stolen spoils and without destroying any worlds.  Thankfully, it is impossible to die.

Factoid: This version of Scavenger Hunter was 7 years in the making.


As is to be expected, a large part of the game involves searching for stolen objects.   Additionally, you will need to find keys to doors or safes, etc. 

You’ll also encounter logic puzzles.  Most are pretty straightforward and well integrated, although a few seemed motiveless.  For instance, I found a diagram in one area.  I could interact with it, and since it was an adventure game, I did.  But, if I’d really been on that world seeking stolen property, I would have had no reason to do that.

That particular puzzle proved to be multi-stepped and I needed help to complete it. It was by far the most difficult puzzle in a collection ranging from easy to “please help me, somebody.” 

There are a few mechanical flip-the-lever type puzzles, including one which is spread out a bit.  You must flip a lever, then change locations to see the effect, and then go back and do it all again.  That type of puzzle is a bit tiresome, and thankfully, there aren’t many of them.

Scavenger Hunter has no mazes, unless you consider the entire game to be a maze.  My first game conveyed that impression, but mapping the second game alleviated the sensation. 

In addition, there are no sound puzzles, no sliders, no timed puzzles, and no running, jumping, climbing, or shooting.  I never pixel hunted, but noted some dark areas.

One puzzle type requires basic color discrimination.  Sagewood Software included a visually challenged person and a person with red-green color blindness in the beta testing, leading me to believe these won’t pose a problem for most folks.

Factoid: The 1980’s version was written on an IBM PC with 640k of memory.


The worlds run the gamut from the strangely peregrine to the almost familiar.  Some provide an intriguing sense of the unusual while others felt as though Aunt Martha had just stepped out to borrow some sugar from her closest neighbor. 

I expected and embraced the unfamiliar.  But the nearly normal combined with the absence of non-player characters created a disturbing atmosphere, as if I had come home for a visit only to find everyone whisked away, leaving me alone and friendless.  I enjoyed seeing what was around the next corner or in the next room, but I craved more information about these Scavengers who have so ransacked our planet. 

The Castle World provided the most immersion, engendering the need to look over my shoulder as I softly crept down the dungeon stairs.  The gently moving water in the moat refreshed me.  Many worlds yielded small, unexpected-but-delightful discoveries.  For instance, on one planet I stumbled across a crystal garden growing in neat rows.  On another, heart shaped leaves brought an “oh” moment.  While on a third, board games sporting punny names added a soupçon of whimsy.

Factoid: There are 4,600 images in this game.


Scavenger Hunter’s graphics are uncomplicated and uncluttered.  Though not the norm, some areas are intentionally dark.  Like all slide show style games (at least the ones I’ve played), there are a few awkward camera angles.  

You’ll search mostly static locations with the exception of a few animations, such as a key turning in a lock, a door opening, or a lever turning.  Though not affecting gameplay, lever animations sometimes resulted in the surrounding area darkening briefly. 

I had difficulty differentiating yellow and orange on most signposts.   Using the position of the indicator instead of the color solved this.   Though it did not affect puzzles, it did initially affect my navigation. 

Window reflections were skillfully done, often causing me to try to alter my angle to see what else might be just beyond my sight.

Factoid: The game’s lilting soundtrack is written by Glen Soulis, brother of one of the developers.


The background music is pleasant and light, changing with each location.  It looped quite often, which had the unfortunate effect of making me feel hurried and tense.  Lovely as it is, it resulted in a less immersive gaming experience.    

Ambient sounds are well done – for instance, the cool whoosh when a portal activates.  However, they are often overshadowed by the background music.  There is little speech, but when it occurs the voice is feminine and pleasant.

Factoid: The Artificial Intelligence used in this game was produced by the husband and wife team of Hugh and Anne Gregory.


Scavenger Hunter features a first person view point, point and click navigation, and is presented in slide show style a la Myst. It comes in a jewel case with one CD which does not need to be in the drive to play, and includes a small paper manual. Its smart cursor automatically changes to indicate directions and possible actions.

A right click and/or the ESC key brings up the Main Menu, allowing you to disable transitions and real-time effects, if needed. This is where you’ll find the save, load, and exit buttons.  I greatly missed the ability to change the relative levels of the background music and the ambient sounds.

Happily, you can save at will, without limit, and name your own saves. Additionally, the game is ALT+TAB friendly and includes subtitles.

A zip icon allows rapid transitions between two points.  Though this feature does not work inside buildings, using it outside speeds up gameplay.

Although the interface is fairly intuitive, it has one feature which became annoying with repetition.  To examine any inventory item, you must click on inventory, then the magnifying glass, and drag that icon to the item.    Left clicking without the magnifying glass would have been easier. 

The “new game” option provides links to information on the Scavengers, icon identification, and allows you to check your screen settings for optimal game play. 

I experienced no glitches and the game needs no patches.

I e-mailed the company once when I thought I had found a dead end.  Their response was fast and friendly.  It turned out the problem was with me and not the game.

Factoid: The original 1980’s version was borne of the author’s frustration with the lack of replay value in most adventure games of that time period.

Nit picking: 

Sadly, the manual does not inform the player of the hint file or the background information, nor include the website address.  While not necessary to the game, this material enriches the experience.  Best case scenario would be to include this information on the CD or to at least point it out. 

Scavenger Hunter takes longer than expected to start, load a saved game, or exit. I mention this only because there is no busy icon to indicate the program is working.   While this fact is included in the manual, it’s a bit disconcerting in practice.

Factoid: The number of treasures are selected at random by the AI with each restart.


For the majority of my first game, I was frustrated and lost.  By my second game, thanks to some research and better understanding of the mechanics of the game, these problems cleared up and I enjoyed myself rather more.    

Normally, lack of story is a negative for me.  But the ever-changing nature of this game uses that negative in a positive manner.  This game can be played intensely or dipped into while waiting for the latest-and-greatest to arrive.  Since there is no detailed story to remember, time between gaming sessions is not critical.  In addition, the broad range of puzzles makes it a good choice for family play.  

At day’s end, Scavenger Hunter rewards the dedicated agent with a well earned rest and issues an invitation to come back and do it all over again.

Grade:  B


Short List:

Puzzle adventure game

1 CD in jewel case

Paper manual included

Point and click navigation

Smart cursor

ALT+TAB friendly

Save at will

Unlimited saves

1st person perspective

Slide show style

Puzzles, transport patterns, and stolen booty randomly generated for each new game

Downloadable hint file

No dying

Inventory, mechanical, and logic puzzles

No stand alone mazes

No sound, slider, or timed puzzles

Pure adventure, no action

No pixel hunting but some darkish areas and careful observation needed

Very basic color discrimination puzzles

Background music pleasant, but repeats often

Very little voice acting


No non-player character interaction

Ambient sounds okay, but often overpowered by music

Stable with no patches needed

Fast and friendly customer service

Does not display a busy icon when opening, loading a game, or exiting


My Computer Specs: 

Win XP Professional SP1

3.2 GHz Intel Pentium 4

1 GB Dual Channel DDR400 SDRAM

DirectX Version:  9.0b (4.09.0000.0902)

Scavenger Hunter is an Independent production of Sagewood Software, and can be purchased at the game’s website.


February 2007

design copyright © 2007 GameBoomers Group

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