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
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
Factoid: There are 1,000 plus possible
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.
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
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
Factoid: There are 4,600 images in this
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
Factoid: The Artificial Intelligence
used in this game was produced by the husband and wife team of Hugh and
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Puzzle adventure game
1 CD in jewel case
Paper manual included
Point and click navigation
Save at will
Slide show style
Puzzles, transport patterns,
and stolen booty randomly generated for each new game
Downloadable hint file
Inventory, mechanical, and
No stand alone mazes
No sound, slider, or timed
Pure adventure, no action
No pixel hunting but some
darkish areas and careful observation needed
Very basic color discrimination
Background music pleasant, but
Very little voice acting
No non-player character
Ambient sounds okay, but often
overpowered by music
Stable with no patches needed
Fast and friendly customer
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
Scavenger Hunter is an Independent production of
Sagewood Software, and can be purchased at the game’s website.
design copyright ©