This charming stealth action game from indie developers, iFun4all, is an amusing and well-executed concept. Serial Cleaner puts you in the shoes of a man whose job is to clean up crime scenes without the police seeing him. Seems simple enough, but the game quickly reveals itself to have some layers of complexity that aren’t initially apparent. The game appears to be based in the 80s and the premise takes a great deal of influence from Pulp Fiction. A charming title with a lot to offer fans of the wider stealth genre.
The levels in Serial Cleaner are presented to you as contracts. You receive a phone call with a job. The job is explained in simple terms and you jump into the crime scene ready to move bodies, clean up blood splatters and scoop up evidence. At each crime scene, the police will be present and will need to be avoided as you go about your business. Each level will feature a different scenario. Sometimes you may just need to pick up bodies, whereas other times you may be required to pick up bodies and clean up rather concerning levels of blood in order to complete the job. These aims must be achieved while avoiding the patrolling police and their flashlight beams. This can be accomplished by staying out of their light using objects in the level or by utilising dedicated hiding spots that will allow you to be in a more heavily patrolled area without being spotted. If you get caught in a flashlight beam and you don’t run away and hide in time, they will catch you and the level will have to be re-started. When you remove bodies or evidence the patrolling police will act suspicious and break their patrol circuit temporarily, but this doesn’t last long. In some instances, this can lead to you being caught out as their flashlight as they sweep around a room or area of the map, but there are usually appropriate corners or hiding spots available.
Successfully completing levels requires patience and timing. This makes the game relatively difficult from the beginning but fairly rewarding upon level completion. The police patrols follow a consistent pattern on a per level basis but the patrol patterns will become more complicated and can lead to the game feeling fairly tense as you try to time your cleaning and body retrieval effectively. You can use your ‘cleaner sense’ to zoom out and see where the objectives are in a level and to see where the police patrols cover. If you fail and restart a level the positions of the bodies and evidence in the level will be different, meaning that you can’t recycle exactly the same strategy each time. This is a nice touch that adds to the challenge.
Visually, Serial Cleaner adopts a top-down layout with a relatively simplistic hand-drawn feel. Clean shapes and muted tones help enhance the 80s vibe of the game, with the various set pieces and mission scenarios also contributing to this. A delightful graphical style that’s easy to enjoy and has enough quirky elements in it to further contribute to the slightly comedic overall atmosphere.
The soundtrack isn’t incredibly memorable and doesn’t stick in your head particularly, but it’s enjoyable enough in the context of the game and doesn’t become too intrusive at any point.
What little dialogue there is in the game is well written and amusing. With some entertaining juxtapositions present between the main characters work life and home life. These elements are well done and do not pull away from the focus of the game at all.
Overall, Serial Cleaner is a fairly challenging experience with a reasonable amount of re-playability. Certainly, a game that can be returned to although the price tag may be a little too steep for those who are less familiar with stealth style games.