Calling Psydra Games’ Dark Scavenger a “point and click sci-fi adventure game with RPG elements” is doing it a disservice. Not only is it well-written, but it also beams you back to the 90s when point and click games ruled. Dark Scavenger borrows elements from the genres mentioned above and yet it manages to stand out completely and keeps you coming back for more.
You start out floating in space, not knowing anything until a massive creature appears in front of you. After conversing with it, you eventually fight it, which acts as a quick tutorial explaining how combat and navigation works here. Once the battle is complete, you find yourself on a space craft with 3 very unique characters in front of you. A crossbow-wielding skeleton named Kamaho greets you and welcomes you to the Dark Scavengers. Falsen looks like a more psychotic version of the Joker and Gazer resembles something straight out of Alien. With the introductions out of the way, the game and story begin.
The premise is great: basically, you have to gather loot to power your space craft, and Kamaho helps you craft weapons with it. Falsen will give you items and Gazer crafts allies you can use in battle or in interactions. You explore areas by clicking different elements in the environment, perhaps doing a quick little negotiation puzzle in text form with choices, or just by looking closer if you’re lucky. As you explore different areas, you encounter different enemies and gain literally tons of different items. The items you get are all mostly unique and this is where the replayability element is insane. Each piece of loot can be used to acquire a something new. Even if you complete a single play-through of the game, you will have probably only seen a third of what’s on offer.
Battles involve you using an item, weapon, or an ally on a single or multiple enemy – which is where the RPG element comes in. Each item has a variety of stats and as the game progresses, these stats matter a lot. The crazy stuff you get by talking to your companions and giving them loot is baffling. I gave Falsen a “Book of Poems” and got back an item that would stun all enemies whose descriptions had 10 words or more in them. I laughed for quite a while at that one.
Dark Scavenger is divided into chapters, each divided into maps and ending with a boss fight. Most of the navigation is done by, you guessed it, pointing and clicking. There is also a lot of text to read, and the choices you make in each situation make a huge difference to the outcome – it reminded me of the old Goosebumps books where you chose your own scare. Decisions can net you great items, or could cause the same interaction to end with multiple beasts attacking you. It really is a lot of fun.
The visuals, for the most part, are a bit of a letdown. Now before you raise your pitchforks, I know this is supposed to take you back to the 90s but it just feels unfinished in many places. That said, it’s not all bad. I liked most of the character portraits, for example, even though the actual interface leaves a lot to be desired. The game involves reading a lot of text but in most cases the fonts are too small and there’s no setting available to change anything. The battle visuals are a lot like Demon Gaze, with no actual combat shown but text pop-ups telling you how much damage you have taken etc.
Music in the game is catchy and pretty well executed overall. The distant, soft tunes playing as you click and explore in some areas are a nice touch. Battle themes could have been better, but after a few battles in a chapter, I started enjoying them a lot, and thankfully different chapters have different tunes.
The writing and humour in Dark Scavenger made me play more and more of it. I keep trying different combinations of weapons and items with loot to see how enemies reacted. There are so many choices with dialogue that it will most certainly take a few play-throughs to fully experience it all, and it’s full of references. It is worth seeing how each of your three companions react to loot because you will otherwise miss out on some-one liner gems. “Gazer spells out your name using sign language and then karate kicks you” is a personal favourite.
VERDICT: Dark Scavenger is well worth the low asking price if you don’t mind the nostalgic take on 90s point and click adventure games. Fantastic writing, dark and bizarre humour, and a nice level of replayability make it an easy game to recommend.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.
Review code provided by developer.