Who Is Going to Pick Up This Mess?
As an OG gamer, I must have mowed down thousands of enemies over the years. Whether they are aliens, robots, or enemy agents, all of them have crumbled under my awesome might. With the massive body count that has piled up over the years, it brings some people to ask the question, where do all of those bodies go? Enter the Serial Cleaner!
Indie developers iFun4all recently released a title that looks at a different side of crime and murder. In Serial Cleaner, you get to play as the Cleaner, a criminal custodian whose sole job is to clean up crime scenes for hits and murders, and not get caught in the process. I had the privilege of playing the game for a few days, and during that time I was able to experience most of what this game has to offer.
So, let’s take a closer look at Serial Cleaner.
Back to the 70’s
The story of Serial Cleaner takes place in the early and mid-70’s. It was a time of bell-bottoms, handlebar mustaches, and…serial killers. The story centers around Bob Leaner, a.k.a The Cleaner, who is a reputable “cleaner” for the mob. As a cleaner, Bob takes calls from clients who need their “work” tidied up after their jobs are done.
Progressing through the story, the clients that Bob is serving become more secretive, and their crimes become more gruesome. As a young adult living with his mother and helping her to take care of the house and pay the bills, Bob feels obligated to take even the worst clean up jobs. After each individual cleaning job, Bob returns home to reflect on what he has done and spend time with his elderly mother. Perhaps the Cleaner is not such a bad guy after all.
Sneaking Around a Crime Scene
Serial Cleaner is an action-puzzler that focuses on sneaking around to clean up crime scenes. Whether Bob gets to the crime scene too late or he plans it this way, the scenes are always crawling with police officers. Bob must complete specific objectives in order to fulfill each contract that he has been given. Some of the objectives call for picking up a certain amount of bodies and loading them into the back of Bob’s station wagon. There is also a “blood objective” that requires Bob to vacuum up a certain amount of blood on the scene before completing the contract.
Each crime scene is unique, and it is always occupied by law enforcement. As Bob sneaks around, he is able to broaden his view around him with his “cleaner vision.” This allows the player to see the entire playing field and find crucial hiding spots where Bob can jump behind to elude being caught. The police officers in this game are very stupid, almost to the point where it is an insult to actual law enforcement. When Bob enters the field of vision of a policeman, that officer will usually chase Bob down until he catches him or Bob hides. After Bob hides from the policeman, his pursuer will simply walk back to his beat. Our Cleaner can also use the environment to distract or confuse those who are searching for him.
A Funky Experience
Serial Cleaner is a game that is very aware of what time period it takes place in. The graphics of this title reflect a pop art style that was popular during that time. Each crime scene seems to reflect the era as well. Whether Bob is going to a Disco-club after the owner had a disagreement with the mob, or to a stuffy newsroom, the action in this game just screams “it’s the 70’s!”
Probably my favorite aspect of this game is the soundtrack; it just fits so well! Every time Bob takes a new contract; a new funky groove can be heard in the background. Each track is unique and very well composed to fit the time in which this game takes place. If it is worth humming after the game is turned off, then you know it is a good song.
Some Criminal Concerns
Serial Cleaner is a fun and unique title, but it is not perfect. The level design is unique in the fact that every time Bob is caught, all of the items that must be obtained, as well as some hiding spots, switch to different areas. Some of the crime scenes in this game take quite a bit of strategy to negotiate, and if one mistake is made, then Bob has to start all over again and a new strategy must be concocted. Because of this “light procedural generation,” the frustration factor in this game is potentially high.
Another issue that this game has is that hitboxes for the police officers are inconsistent. Bob does not fight back, so his only form of defense is to run and hide. The police officers are slightly faster than Bob, and when they catch him they whack him with their nightsticks. I have found that the hitboxes vary depending on where Bob is in conjunction with the policemen. Sometimes Bob can get quite close to a policeman and not get whacked, while other times it seems like the officer was too far away from Bob to catch him. This can also be quite frustrating.
The Final Rundown
I’ve never liked playing games where I am the villain, but to be honest, I didn’t feel like the bad guy playing this title. The story woven through this game helps to connect Bob with the player, and that becomes a big part of the fun and mystery of this title. The gameplay is fun and challenging, allowing for even the most seasoned of gamers to struggle at certain parts. The music and graphics are funky and cool, and really highlight the vibrant era that this game takes place in. With just a few mechanical hiccups, this title makes a great addition to anyone’s game library. A little side note: I don’t recommend this game for children.
With all of this said, I give Serial Cleaner 9 body bags out of 10. If you would like to play Serial Cleaner for yourself, it is now available on the PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Steam. An added bonus to all of this is that Bob can collect costumes to wear during his contracts. I recommend the Bruce Lee jumpsuit, just saying.