Serial Cleaner PS4 Review

July 22, 2017 by  
Filed under PS4, Reviews & Features, PlayStation

Publisher: Curve Digital  Developer: iFun4All  Genre: Puzzle, Action

Players: 1  Age Rating: 16+  Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One

If you have ever dreamt of taking on the role of Samuel L Jackson in the 2007 film Cleaner, whereby it’s his job to clean up crime scenes, with Serial Cleaner you now get to live out that morbid fantasy, sort of. Set against the dreary backdrop of the 1970s, you take on the role of Bob, who accepts contracts from people who want him to clean up after they have attended to their ‘business’, that business being slaughtering lots of people who then need to be disposed of. Bob is a simple guy who lives at home with his mum, but has got himself into some gambling debts and cleaning up these dead bodies is his way of settling that debt. Unbeknown to him though, he unintentionally takes contracts from an associate of a well-known and much wanted serial killer, entangling himself in a difficult situation.

Here’s an homage to Tony the Tiger, probably complete with the calories.

Serial Cleaner is played with a top-down view, much in the same manner as Hotline Miami. Bob attends various general places, including a motel, nightclub, farm, a diner, a campsite, all with the goal of cleaning up the mess left behind by his contractors. Whilst the places are varied, the art style can make it feel as though you are tracing over old ground, with each level having a similar look to them. The gameplay mechanic of going somewhere, disposing of dead bodies, picking up evidence and vacuuming up blood may even sound repetitive to some, and coupled with the muted colours it may seem as though the game could be rather boring. However, Serial Cleaner is a very addictive game; with its simplistic controls, trial and error gameplay and quirky nature, it’s a stealthy puzzle game that had me hooked for hours.

In between missions you can explore Bob’s home, which acts as a kind of hub. At home is where Bob receives phone calls and accepts his contracts, and you can also listen to the radio, watch TV, check news headlines, and speak to his mum, all of which convey the progress of the story – the headlines reflect Bobs actions, as well as the killer – and help instil some characterisation through his relationship with his mum. Before Bob heads to a mission, the phone calls he receive informs him about what to expect at the next crime scene including the number of bodies you have to dispose of and how much evidence you need to collect. Whilst there, you also need to vacuum up a certain percentage of blood.

Upon arriving at the crime scenes, you’ll find various police roaming around. As the police wander around their patrols, you can see their field of vision, coloured orange – some are small, some are wide, and others look around frantically. Some police, once alerted, will stay alerted and will continue their patrol at a quickened pace, others will call in back-up. There is certainly a variety of enemies you have to avoid in the game, the enemies becoming more difficult as the game progresses – but why Bob would choose to clean up a crime scene with a visible police presence is certainly one of the more questionable aspects of the story.

Serial Cleaner makes use of the timer on your console – if you play at night, the game will also be set during the night. If you’d prefer, you can switch this option off though.

To help you evade the enemies, and to help you reach your targets, Bob can make use of short-cuts and can also move objects to block paths. He can also hide in boxes, cupboards, plants, and other areas, though it is amusing watching him being chased, only for the enemy to look perplexed once he dives behind a plant to take cover, even though they would clearly see him and yet never check. In this case, it does make the AI seem a bit dim. Bob can also make use of sound, useful as a distraction, though he must also be careful as his own footsteps makes noise and if he moves too close to an enemy they will hear him and give chase.

Bob can dispose of bodies numerous ways – he can load them into the back of his car, or use some other means of getting rid of them. Such ways include using a meat grinder, acid, throwing them into the path of an incoming train, chucking them off a building or just throwing them out a window. I found I didn’t really pay much attention to  the types of evidence you can collect, though the majority will include picking up guns, or other items such as booze or a stocking. To clear up blood, Bob can take out a vacuum cleaner that will suck up the spatters, and it felt oddly satisfying to control Bob and neatly clear up any red stains. Even though you are given a percentage to clear up, you can aim to get 100% of the blood, though of course this will make the mission much more difficult.

Should you die, which you will more than likely do until you learn the layout and routes of the enemies and which type is lurking about, when you respawn, bodies, evidence and blood is randomised, meaning when you restart, everything will be placed differently. This adds to the challenge as you can’t really plan where your targets will be, and you’ll probably find yourself going with the flow.

Bob makes use of ‘Cleaner Vision’, which reveals hiding places, short-cuts and movable objects.

There are other collectables to find as you play, including new outfits to change into, and bonus contracts, of which there are 10 of in total. Whilst the main gameplay keeps things fairly simple, the bonus contracts changes the rules and are some of the most difficult contracts in the game. Being set in the 70’s, there are a number of homages to that era, including references to the Rocky films, a poster for Jaws, and even a collectable contract set in space, with a certain popular alien lurking waiting to help you dispose of the bodies.

Visually, as mentioned the game has an interesting, almost Cubism-esque style to the artwork, which can feel repetitive, though it is helps to recreate the garish style of the 70s. As for the soundtrack, you can buy it separately or bundled with the game, though as the music is rather generic, I can’t see many players doing this.

Serial Cleaner is yet another game where it will give you hours of addictive fun, though isn’t one that will leave a lasting impression despite it pulling you in for hours at a time. It does offer a lot for what its worth and you can tell a lot of hard work has gone in to making the game, so if you are looking for a stealthy puzzle game with a simple premise, quirky nature and lots of replayability, then certainly give this one a chance.