A fan of Dennaton Games Hotline Miami? Perhaps you have OCD or a profound interest in criminology? Or maybe you just like a simple action title as much as the next person? Regardless of which of the aforementioned you consider yourself, iFun4all’s Serial Cleaner is definitely a title that should peak your interest. In this 70’s themed action game, the player takes on the role of a protagonist who’s job is to clean up murder scenes by removing all traces of incriminating evidence undetected. The crime scenes contracted to the player are riddled with dopey coppers looking for any opportunity to bust and not-so-innocent bystanders that are ready to intervene, subsequently making the task at hand a little more difficult. Serial Cleaner utilises Real-World Data in order to make the time of day within the game coincide with that based on the player’s location.
As mentioned prior, the player takes on the role of “The Cleaner”, who takes on contracts tidying up messy murder scenes on behalf of perpetrator’s that had to make a swift getaway. Although renowned for his skills in tidying up after the remorseless murderers and other criminally inclined, “The Cleaner” is surprisingly not much of a headcase himself. When he is not otherwise preoccupied with getting blood on his hands whilst cleaning it off of others, this 30 year old spends time at home with his mum watching T.V and helping her around the house – yes, it’s always the quiet ones. Serial Cleaner is story-driven, the contracts you’re given essentially act as the games levels. As you go from one contract to the next they get progressively more difficult. In between contracts, you’ll return home in which time you can admire your collection of souvenirs from jobs, interact with various things around the house like the T.V and radio and most importantly, keep your doting (and completely oblivious) mother company.
Serial Cleaner plays similar to Hotline Miami in regards to it’s camera view and simplistic control scheme. It’s almost quite primitive which works well in not over complicating the fast-paced decision making required in some contracts. As the player enters a crime scene, they must use their cleaner sense to assess their surroundings and preemptively plan a route. This will be based on the availability of hiding spots and police patrol routes in relation to where evidence, collectables, bodies and blood puddles are situated. Serial Cleaner isn’t a game where you can just “wing it” beyond the first few contracts. Furthermore, you can’t make effective use of hiding spots or operating movable parts of the map when manoeuvring a body and alongside that your general travel speed is significantly lowered. This collectively encourages a lot of calculated pre-planning as once you get caught, you’re forced to start the contract over which as a result means taking a whole new approach as evidence, bodies and so forth are re-situated upon starting over. However, it isn’t as chaotic as it sounds. You can attain all means of evidence, collectables, bodies and clear bloody spots in which ever order you prefer and at your own pace. Just remember, if you want to collect everything and then go back and 100% those blood stains – on your head be it cause if you get caught, you’ll be right back to square one. As stated previously, the contracts as expected, get increasingly more difficult as you play through Serial Cleaner, requiring you to make more efficient use of your cleaner sense and to really utilise the map layout to your advantage. At times this game requires a significant amount of patience but you’ll always be making your getaway feeling accomplished and this is what makes Serial Cleaner so admirably addictive.
You can tell Serial Cleaner is a game that prides itself on hoping to be taken very lightly, despite it’s general dark essence of murder. This is a given from the get go, I mean, it’s title is a pun for one, the protagonist was made in light of the word “cringe” (a 30 year old that lives at home with his mum and dresses like an embarrassing dad who thinks he’s “hip” and “hop” but really isn’t) and the general 1970’s theme including music gives the game an overall very cheesy feel. These cleverly integrated comedic elements in contrast with the underlying, rather serious prospect of the game, indisputably indicate that iFun4all have achieved making Serial Cleaner a game not one to be taken seriously. In addition to this, Serial Cleaner has a very plain 2D graphic style. This works great in maintaining the feel this is a lighthearted title. It’s colourful, fun and coheres well with the 1970’s theme of the game. Although this game isn’t exactly graphically intricate, it is still rather aesthetic and pleasing to the eye.
Although a relatively short and straightforward game, Serial Cleaner is thriving with content and a great deal of replay-ability as a result of this. Not only does the player get to engross themselves in the main story contracts, but they also get to play through bonus contracts. These include movie-themed ones which can be unlocked by collecting hidden movie reels throughout other contracts. Accordingly, the player is spurred on to attain more thorough level completion in order to unlock the bonus contracts and even new snazzy clothes for the protagonist. Furthermore, there is a challenge mode in which players can make contracts more well, challenging – pardon the pun. These include time trials and the disabling of the cleaner sense. On a side note, for all you trophy hunters out there, there is what I would consider a relatively simple to attain platinum sitting with this fantastic game. Overall, I think Serial Cleaner is a highly addictive, nifty little action title. It isn’t massively demanding but reasonably challenging all the same and I admire how thought provoking it can be when playing some contracts. A great rudimentary game for when you fancy a come down from all the open-world marvels the gaming industry is throwing our way as of recent.