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Serial Cleaner review

We clean up murder scenes in this stealth action game.

© Curve Digital / iFun4All

Serial Cleaner has you become (yes you guessed it), a cleaner! But in this respect you’re not turning over beds or ignoring do-not-disturb signs. Instead, you are hired by the mob to clean up their mess and it’s almost always a bloody one.

Serial Cleaner reminds me most of games like Party Hard and Hotline Miami. There’s been this influx of indie titles that utilise stylised graphics combined with a top down view. Whereas Hotline Miami focuses on killing everyone in the room as quickly as you can, Serial Cleaner takes the stealth approach. It’s about avoiding the watchful eyes of the cops whilst stealing all the evidence you can.

You have three tasks in every level. The game doesn’t really venture too far away from these simple objectives but it’s still challenging. You have to bring any dead bodies back to the station wagon – usually located at the edge of the map. You also have to grab any evidence, like hammers and guns or anything nasty and covered in sticky brain matter. Finally you have to deal with the blood. Lots and lots of blood. The Serial Cleaner takes his job very seriously and will always bring his trusty vacuum cleaner along with him.

Watch the Serial Cleaner launch trailer below:

 

It’s set in the 70’s, which ties nicely in with the visual design, it all looks like a poster for a film. The mob, station wagons and hotels full of dead hookers seems very 70’s to me anyway. As the graphics are steeped in light heartedness, the grimness of the events put in front of you are softened.

The AI is fine at first but it’s not until the later levels that the limitations show. You can be seen by one of the cops and then (whilst he’s looking at you) jump into a dumpster and then he’ll forget all about you. They’re more like safe zones than hiding spots which does seem a little stupid. I mean they could have programmed the AI to batter you if they see you hide. Not that there’s no tension when you’re being chased, you’ll guide them around certain corners to give you the best chance to get to the safe zone. It can be pretty fun. Although the main goal is to not get caught at all.

When you’re caught you’ll start the entire level again and all the items will reset in different locations. Which can be both interesting and frustrating. Sometimes you’ll be grateful that the body has moved to an easier location. Or you’ll pull your hair out because you’ve just memorised the guard’s routes and now it has all changed.

View some Serial Cleaner screenshots in our gallery:

There are collectible costumes throughout the campaign plus film reels containing bonus missions. The costumes are fun enough to collect but the film reels are the better collectible. You can unlock film themed levels, like Alien, A Clockwork Orange and even Star Wars. There are seven more and they’re definitely worth finding.

Serial Cleaner is one of the good examples of Early Access. The game is fun and infuriating in just the right amounts. There are two things that hold it back. The AI enemies are poor and there’s a real lack of variation. With games like Hotline Miami, you’ll have access to all sorts of weapons and environmental interacts. Plus there’s combat. I know Serial Cleaner is supposed to be a stealth game but that doesn’t mean he can’t have some gadgets or distraction tools, or something to make the levels stand out. There’s the occasional environmental addition like being able to throw the bodies out of the window or manipulating cranes in a warehouse to change guard routes but I would have liked to see something different. Something other than random body and evidence placements.

If you’re looking for something stealthy, with a touch of 70’s charm then Serial Cleaner is for you. The bonus film levels alone make this a worthwhile purchase.

Serial Cleaner was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.

Publisher: Curve Digital Developer: iFun4All Release Date: July 14, 2017 Reviewed On: PC/Steam Also Available On: PS4 / Xbox One

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