These days games have you racking up the body count, leaving the mess for the computer to tidy up. Serial Cleaner instead places you in the shoes of the clean up crew – the twist – you have to clean up the mob’s sloppy work all from under the watchful gaze of the cops.
Cleaning up after the mob might not sound like fun, but the funky soundtrack and tasteful graphics ooze coolness to what is essentially a puzzle game. Get in, scout the area via your cleaner senses – Spiderman eat your heart out – and avoid the patrolling cops. Should they catch sight of you as you go about your business of disposing bodies, hoovering up blood and swiping evidence, they will give chase or call for help – thankfully they are too stupid to catch you if you can make it to the safety of a bush or closet. Only guards that carry guns warrant an instafail if they spot you.
Beyond the puzzle mechanics of navigating each mazelike area, there is a dark story to be told – with equally dark humour – everything wraps up neatly for an amusing finale. It’s thoroughly entertaining, if a little short. There are additional movie inspired levels to play through – unlockable by finding movie reels within the main campaign – but there are no visual cues as to which levels have the reels so you need to keep your head on a swivel in order to spot them.
As the game progresses, so does the size and complexity of each area. Getting caught means starting from scratch, with bodies, evidence and blood splatters resetting and often being placed in different locations – in can be quite annoying to make it all the way to the end and get caught. While you move (and hoover) you make noise and some enemies later in the game have rather good hearing – at times, Serial Cleaner is anything but easy.
Unfortunately though, it does climax too quickly. There are mutators to add some longevity to the game and give each level more of a challenge. Split into day and night, these mutators range from enemies with no vision cones and hiding places that can only be used when not in an enemy’s sights to disabling your cleaner sense or removing visual noise indicators. My favourite though was the ‘drunk on the job’ mutator, which adds a wavy warp to the graphics.
Serial Cleaner is fun, simple and stylish, and while it’s light on ideas, Winston Wolfe would be proud.
Thanks to VIM Global Consulting for supporting TiX