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Serial Cleaner

I love the pitch of Serial Cleaner. It's the early 1970s. You're a young man, Bobby, who lives at home with his mum, and play through brief interactions with her from time to time. Mmm, what's that? Meatloaf, delicious. From the outside looking in, you're just a regular guy rocking around in an ugly estate car. But when you're not watching the tube or flicking through the newspaper, you're sneaking around crime scenes, cleaning up the bloody mess left in the wake of a serial killer, tossing bagged-up bodies into the back of your trusty wheels.

Serial Cleaner

Working for various shady characters, Bob "The Cleaner" Leaner travels from hit to hit, steam cleaner in hand, removing evidence, mopping up blood, and disposing of dead bodies. Serial Cleaner is certainly among the most unique games I've played so far on Xbox One, but is this stealth 'em up worth $15, or is it taking you to the cleaners?

Serial Cleaner is a game that has you running about areas with nothing but a vacuum cleaner and a car, your objective is simple clean up blood, bodies and collect evidence. While you are doing this you must hide behind trees, hide in closets and even hide in boats. You are the greatest cleaner the world has ever seen, you have a great sense for when there is a mess that needs cleaning. When you use your senses you can see the whole map and where the bodies and evidence are. The gameplay reminds me a lot of Hotline Miami due to its fast gameplay and brutal learning curve.

Your adversaries are the cops that are swarming each crime scene, you can't kill any as you are just a cleaner, you can however hide, figure out their patterns and avoid them at any cost. Beware though if they catch you they will kill you in one hit, they are faster and smarter than you. Once you have found a body, dumped it in the car, have collected all the blood, evidence and bodies from a map, you then have to run to the car without being caught by the police.

Serial Cleaner takes place in the 1970s where you take control of a specially hired cleaner who is assigned tasks to clean up murder scenes before the on-location police can investigate the scene. The game utilizes stealth along with players trying to clean up blood, dispose of corpses and remove any shred of evidence that could be left lying around and then get out undetected.

Each level provides you with a set of objectives to achieve while remaining unseen by the eyes of the law. This boils down to disposing of bodies, cleaning a certain amount of blood up using your handy vacuum cleaner, and making evidence go missing. No evidence, no crime, as they say.

Bob, the returning character from Cleaner, can bag up bodies to stop them leaking blood everywhere. Meanwhile Lati can only drag bodies, but has fantastic mobility otherwise, able to hop over shortcuts and weave through obstacles to get away from the chasing police. Vip3r has the ability to hack electronics from different computers and can scuffle through vents, while the cleaner named Hal seems to have fallen straight from making bodies himself into cleaning them up.

  • Serial Cleaner The '70s: The game is set in the decade of the 1970s, focusing on a certain period of time starting on '72.

  • Cleanup Crew: Your job is to clean up crime scenes by disposing of bodies and evidence as well as vacuuming up blood, all the while avoiding the cops.

  • Engineered Public Confession: The final confrontation with the Echo Killer involves you baiting him into chasing you in front of live cameras, upon which he'll blurt out various incriminating things.

  • Everyone Has Standards: Bob is desperate for money, so he takes the jobs from the mysterious client, but is greatly upset by the state of things, especially the fact he seems to brutally murder young women.

  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Once you hide in things like bushes or boxes, cops will quickly lose attention, even if they see you doing so.

  • Momma's Boy: Bob loves his mom dearly and is very sweet to her whenever they talk. They are shown to have a very close relationship, with him even accompanying her on her bridge game nights.

  • Only in It for the Money: Bob is not interested in joining the Mafia or takes pleasure in his work, all he wants is to make enough money to pay his debts and then move on.

  • Punch-Clock Villain: Bob does work for the mob and a serial killer in order to clean up after murders. He, however, takes no pleasure from it and is only doing it for the money and to keep himself and his mom safe.

  • The Reveal: At one point, listening to the radio, Bob realizes he's been cleaning up the murders of the Echo Killer.

  • Serial Killer: The Echo Killer is a serial killer racking up a large body count and that The Cleaner has been cleaning up for.

  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: A primary reason for why Bob keeps taking dangerous jobs for criminals is due to various gambling debts.

The four different cleaners give this sequel an edge over its predecessor, as each one has a unique skill set to keep things from getting stale. Psycho has a more aggressive style that involves cutting up bodies and chucking limbs around, Lati can use parkour to jump over fences, and Viper has a unique hacking mechanic that can let her cause distractions, as well as the ability to move through vents.

Serial Cleaners' main problem is that it's kind of a wasted opportunity. There's room for a game like this on the market, and it's stylishly presented enough that it could easily garner an audience of obsessive stealth-loving cleaners. It just doesn't achieve the necessary tension to make it a compelling stealth game and its mechanics are too open to abuse to reward careful play and smart decisions. As a result, the potential thrill that it could have been is lost.

This is obviously open to abuse, but special mention should go to the vacuum cleaner. It's an all-important tool for the cleaner and an essential part of every mission. But its problem isn't its curious ability to suck-up blood from snow or dirt, we can suspend our belief just enough to accept that this is a video game and so video game rules apply. The issue is that you're able to use this thing not only in the next room, but practically within reaching distance of an officer. So long as you keep any guards outside of the tiny zone of influence while using the vacuum, then you're as good as silent. 041b061a72

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