Picture this… You get called to a crime scene, there are bodies and blood EVERYWHERE, and now it's your job to clean up the mess and dispose of any incriminating evidence without being caught by the cops. Serial Cleaners is a stealth-based action game which has been developed by Draw Distance and published by 505 Games. It is available now on Windows PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, and is the sequel to the 2017 release Serial Cleaner, however, there is no requirement to play the first game before jumping into this instalment. We were kind enough to be given a review key for the PlayStation 5 version of the game by the publisher.
Players take control of Bob and his crew of evidence cleanup experts as they purge crime scenes of any damning evidence while trying not to get spotted by the police. Join them as they reminisce about their past with stories including how they got into the business and tales of their most dangerous cleanups to date. The game is narrative driven which sees each of the 4 cleaners take a turn to tell their story in each chapter. I enjoyed the concept for this game, where you take control of the clean up team, rather than the actual killer. It was a very welcome change of direction.
In order to have a successful cleanup you will need to collect all of the evidence that has been left, dispose of bodies, and clean up any blood that has been splashed all over the floor. Every cleaner comes equipped with a vacuum cleaner to clean up the blood, however, each of the 4 cleaners boasts a different set of skills to the next. Lati can vault over objects or through windows which allows her to reach inaccessible areas. The rather aptly named Psycho can cut up bodies with a chainsaw to make them easier to dispose of. You can also use the cut up parts to throw at and knock out any pesky police officers which might get in your way. Viper is a computer hacker who can manipulate electronics in the area to cause distractions for the police, hack into computer terminals, and crawl through air vents. Finally Bob can wrap up bodies before picking them up to avoid blood trails and to avert any suspicion from passing members of the public. All of the cleaners also come equipped with the ability to activate “cleaner sense” which slows down time and basically gives you a wider view of the crime scenes and marks out any points of interest for you. This is extremely useful to help you plan out your next move without having the fear of getting caught. The only issue I had with this is that the camera control could be a bit more refined. When you move the right stick, it jerks the camera in that direction. This is a small gripe I know but it would have just made it feel nicer if there was more finesse in the camera movements.
Now there will be times where you will get spotted but this doesn’t mean it’s game over. You still have a chance to escape. You can run and hide, charge into the cops to knock them over or even throw evidence at them to knock them out. Although the idea is the same for every level, I never felt like it became boring or repetitive at any point. There is more than enough variation in the levels to keep things interesting.
Serial Cleaners definitely does not come without its quirks or issues. If it’s realism you are seeking, well seek elsewhere because this one is not for you. Being a stealth game, obviously you will need to avoid detection by the guards or police. This is borderline comical on most occasions as you can exploit the lack of realism to your advantage. For example, when using the vacuum cleaner, there is a noise radius that appears on the screen and any guard inside that radius will be alerted to the sound of the vacuum cleaner and will come to investigate. However, if they are standing just a few steps outside of this radius, they will be oblivious to any vacuuming taking place. The same rules apply when walking or sprinting. If they are outside the noise radius then they won’t hear you even though you may only be a few feet away. Another example is if you get spotted, all you need to do is break line of sight with the officer who is pursuing you and they will stop their investigation and return to their patrol. I’ll be honest though, this didn’t bother me at all in terms of enjoyment of the game, it just makes things slightly less realistic.
I also found Serial Cleaners to be pretty buggy and glitchy. In the first mission I had a glitch where I needed a key to open a door, but the key did not appear in the level. so I had to restart the mission in order for the key to appear. I also had moveable objects which moved on their own, and the worst one being police officers disappearing then respawning in random locations. This made things very difficult to complete one level in particular because I had no idea where they were going to appear next.
I really enjoyed the style of the graphics though, and along with the groovy music, it really makes Serial Cleaners a joy to experience. There is also full voice acting for all of the characters which is just about passable, but I would prefer mediocre voice acting to no voice acting at all so it's still a tick in the right box for me.
Despite its lack of realism and immersion at times, along with the bugs, I did have a lot of fun playing this game. It’s such a great idea and although it is not without its issues, they didn’t detract from the fun I had while trying to plan my next move, and get those crime scenes cleaned up. I enjoyed hearing and playing through each of the characters' back stories and getting to know their whacky personalities. Serial Cleaners is definitely worth checking out, and there is plenty of fun to be had with it.
PaultheBrave09’s Rating: 4 bloody stars out of 5.
For more information on Serial Cleaners please use the following links...
Many thanks to 505 Games for the Review Key.