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About the Story
Search a war-shattered world for secrets of the past.
Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best Individual NPC - 2003 XYZZY Awards
Set in a fairly cliche post-apocalyptic environment, but with very solid game-play and a decent story. You are a scavenger seeking to recover some valuable items from before the holocaust, and are allowed to take your choice of equipment. (Each choice, as far as I was able to tell, will make one puzzle easier to solve; none is wrong.) That option, combined with multiple puzzle solutions and branching endings, adds a fair amount of replay value. There are a couple of good scenes with NPCs, as well. Overall, a strong work, not exactly experimental but making good use of existing techniques and ideas, with some old-school puzzles.
-- Emily Short
But the true strength of the game, in my opinion, consists in the level of involvement "Scavenger" manages to provide. At the beginning of the game, I thought, "It's as though I'm playing Doom in TADS." Indeed, the setting, the descriptions, and, in a certain sense, even the actions which the player has to take in order to make progress are similar to the ones in a first-person shooter.
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Inside the main location, I was frustrated by clear solutions combined with inability to get the required response. That said, the tension built nicely and crept up on me unawares. (Virginia Gretton).
The primary task breaks down nicely into subgoals, how to enter the base for instance, but there are also puzzles which are more of less optional, depending on the supplies you have and whether or not you want a full score. The balance between player freedom and keeping the plot moving was well handled in my opinion. (Cirk Bejnar)
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>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
I was smiling a lot during Scavenger, and my notes are full of little comments that read "VERY NICE" or something similar. It would have been improved by a few puzzle tweaks, a more original setting, and either being released outside the comp or streamlined to a more reasonable two-hour size, but I can still enthusiastically recommend it.
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
I often compare playing IF to watching a movie. It’s an activity that will occupy me for a few hours in the evening and hopefully provide for some entertainment. Of course, if it also offers something deeper to let me think about, a sort of "opening the mind" experience, the more the better. However, I’m not always in the mood for complex movies. Indeed, sometimes after a long and tiring day, instead of watching a "Schindler’s List", I’d just like to make myself comfortable, crack open a can of beer, plug in a good old "Die Hard" or something, and just let my mind have fun on its own… And the same goes for interactive fiction. Although I highly appreciate complex IF masterpieces, sometimes all I want is a short, fun piece with a solid story and puzzles that won’t get me bogged down too late in the night.
In this respect, "Scavenger" truly delivers! Set in the (rather typical) post-apocalyptic world, the goal is to explore an abandoned underground base, learn a thing or two about its history and secrets, and safely return to the surface with something to show and a story to tell… Although the plot as such is obviously not something that we’ve never seen before, there are two aspects in which this piece truly shines: the first is the atmosphere, which lets you easily immerse in the experience, and the second is the perfectly smooth "flow" of the story. The plot unfolds at just the right pace, with very few obstructions. There are a number of "instant death" situations, but the prior warnings and the ability to undo afterwards makes them more of an interesting "detour" than a true dead end. The puzzles are brutally logical and straightforward, sometimes to the point of being almost too obvious, and most of the time the player has a very clear idea of what to do next (or even what to look for in order to solve a particular puzzle). This all makes for an exceptionally smooth, enjoyable ride through the story. The option at the beginning to choose from a few items which will make certain puzzles easier to solve (although none is necessary) is also a nice addition, which together with the multiple ending approach and the secondary quest of "how to get the full score" provides for some extra replay value.
I highly recommend "Scavenger" to all who are looking for good IF entertainment with a solid story, logical puzzles and great atmosphere. The rating is only shy of five starts due to the fact that it’s not particularly "deep". But hey, on a grey and rainy evening – does it really matter?
This was another one that I really enjoyed, in spite of myself. By that I mean, I loaded it up and went "Oh no, post-apocalyptic world...", but it was worth suspending judgement for a few turns, as this is a really well-written, solid puzzle-fest with some good NPC work thrown in.
A lot of the interiors ended up being very reminiscent of Planetfall and Stationfall for me (that's a compliment, I enjoyed those games), and I liked the fact that there were multiple routes through the game. The only complaint I have is with the radiation suit: once I wore it outside, the guard immediately knew I wasn't a member of their faction, as I was no longer wearing the jacket. I had envisioned the radiation suit as one of those all enveloping white things... thus the guard outside would have assumed I was one of his pals from the complex. Obviously a case of an "if jacket not worn" test. Minor though.
The biggest problem with this game is that I was enjoying playing it so much, I didn't take any notes during gameplay, meaning my judging is going mainly from memory.
Great writing, enjoyable story, if a trifle workmanlike.
This game was fun, and really gave me that old-school IF feeling.
I did not find any bugs that I can recall.
Lots of fun, taking me back to the heady days of 80s IF.
WABE score: 8.5
I enjoyed Scavenger, and will probably revisit it. You play a scavenger in a post-apocalyptic society who has a lead on a big find. You have to find and search a base. There are no big surprises here, but plenty of fun puzzles.
Some of the puzzles, though fun, were a bit under clued. At least four puzzles depend on you searching or moving objects that are not obviously searchable, or that are similar to earlier immobile/unsearchable objects, or which you are explicitly told have nothing in them. This draws back from the fun.
The games NPCs have a lot of character, especially in their descriptions and responses.
It may seem as if I didn't like this game, but it has that elusive 'it'-ness that makes a game enjoyable and with it. Perhaps this is the reason it was nominated for a Best Game XYZZY.
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