In iFun4all’s Serial Cleaner you take on the role of Bob, the titular Cleaner.
Bob is in debt to the mob and is desperate to pay off the debt before the mob sends angry big men in pinstriped suits to “adjust” his legs in payment.
Bob’s work as a Cleaner requires him to clean crime scenes, no doubt dirty work in the best of times but there is a catch.
The catch being that while most crime scene cleaners do their thing after the investigation, Bob has the unenviable task of cleaning the crime scenes moments after the crime has been committed and while the police are on site.
Bob’s life sort of sucks…but in a very fun way.
Serial Cleaner is an old school stealth game, one where you have no combat options and the entirety of the game has you dodging and hiding while you try to collect evidence, remove bodies and clean up absurd amounts of blood with a “magic” vacuum cleaner.
Never before has a game made any sort of cleaning this enjoyable.
Standing in the way of your cleaning efforts are a variety of police units: regular officers with clubs, fast moving scouts, officers that go into an alert state when they spot you and stay there, senior officers that flee when they spot you and spawn two regular officers and even gun toting officers that kill you the moment they spot you. Each type of officer require a different strategy to cope with (although my favorite was alway to trap them in rooms behind movable objects) as you move about the level doing your job. The levels are scattered with hiding places, the aforementioned moveable objects and devices that distract the police with sound but each time you die many objects get repositioned (including many bodies and evidence) when you restart the map.
Also hidden among the levels are magazines that give you new clothes (all based on 70s films, my favorite being the Taxi Driver clothing) and film reels that give you bonus contracts (including levels based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Star Wars and Alien).
Alas Serial Cleaner is not without its faults and frustrations. I often found the controls to not be quite as precise as I would have liked leading to frustrating moments where I slipped through a shortcut instead of going into a nearby hiding spot or getting caught on the environment while fleeing a cop.
As is the nature with stealth games I often times found the trial and error nature of gameplay frustrating at times, especially since there are no checkpoints which means failure means a complete do-over. While I understand this goes hand and hand with the rearranging of elements on the level it is still incredibly frustrating to be nearing the end of a difficult level and have one misstep throw it all away.
Final Verdict: 8 out 10.
Serial Cleaner is a very good game with a novel concept, a pleasant presentation and good old fashioned stealth mechanics and is absolutely worth your time and $15.
Still not sold on the game, here is my PolyNerdic Play Test to sweeten the sales pitch: