One of the most iconic scenes in cinema is the exchange between Vincent and Jules and the fixer, Winston Wolfe in Pulp Fiction. Winston's sole job is to clean up the messes left behind by those under gang boss Marsellus Wallace's employ. This scene is a very short one in the film, but it is memorable as it illustrates how ones actions can lead to serious consequences, which can result in a lot of mess. The developers of Serial Cleaner have made a game about the cleaning up of mistakes made by others and I managed to get some playtime with it at PAX East 2017.
Set in the mid-1970's, the player takes the role of 'The Cleaner'. His job is to clean up after a hit by his fellow gang members. He doesn't judge their actions or their inability to be discrete - he just drives up in his station-wagon, replete with wood paneling, opens up the back and places bodies and evidence of the killings into the car and drives off. What could be simpler?
Well there's a problem: The Cleaner is actually breaking the law by removing evidence from a crime scene and the local law enforcement officers aren't going to let him just walk in and mop everything up.
This is where the game of Serial Cleaner
comes in, as the player must navigate around pre-defined maps that have bodies and items that can be used as evidence for the killings littered across key locations. There are also police officers roaming around the map, guarding the bodies and items waiting for their own clean-up crew to arrive after an investigation has been carried out. The Cleaner has to make his way across the map, collecting bodies and items while not being seen. As soon as he is, the police will chase The Cleaner down.
As a defence The Cleaner can simply run and hide into pre-determined areas in the map. This could be a trailer or a dumpster. Interestingly, the police immediately stop looking for The Cleaner as soon as he hides, even when he does it right in front of them. It's a conceit of Serial Cleaner
that can be forgiven for the sake of an excellent and somewhat gruesome puzzle game.
An additional mechanic is the need to clear up blood. There are some scenes where the blood of the victims is spilt all over the area, which can be considered evidence. To address this The Cleaner has a vacuum cleaner that can be used to mop up the blood, but by doing so The Cleaner does two things that hinder his likelihood of success, those being creating noise and removing the blood that increases The Cleaner's speed as he runs around the map.
Yes that's right, the blood on the floor creates a slippery surface that allows The Cleaner to run faster. Therefore the player must be very careful about when they decide the clean up the blood as if they do it too soon prior to removing other evidence they will be running more slowly.
I really enjoyed my time with Serial Cleaner and can see myself spending quite some time with it as I attempt to complete level after level in the shortest time possible. Serial Cleaner
is out for Windows PC, Mac and Linux on Early Access and is also due for release on PS4 later this year.