Serial Cleaner is a retro-style 2D puzzler that charges players with cleaning up the mess left by hit-men. Previously available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, Serial Cleaner is now available on Nintendo’s Switch.
The focus is on stealth as the Cleaner you must infiltrate the often heavily-guarded crime scenes, removing bodies, murder weapons and important items. There’s usually a quantity of bloody that also needs mopping up.
The environments are varied. One moment the Cleaner is mopping up the entrails of a murdered couple at lakeside retreat, the next attending to the aftermath of a corporate killing in an office block. The locations of the bodies, items and blood spatters are random, giving the game a fair amount of replay value. Object location can even change after captured and restarting the level.
The Police at the scene must be avoided. If they catch you it’s back to the start of the level. If they do see you, all is not lost, there’s usually a few hiding spots that you can duck into and make yourself scarce. You need to carefully watch the police’s patrol patterns and time your actions accordingly. If you do snatch a body from underneath an unsuspecting copper, he will notice that the body is missing, breaking his usual patrol route to go over and investigate.
The police’s sight-lines are highlighted in yellow, enabling you to spot the blind-spots in order to make your way around the level undetected. Levels that are seemingly impossible can turn out to be deceptively simple if you spend a few minutes watching the police.
Cleaner vision, which is basically a map, allows player to see where the bodies, hiding spots, and disposal points are. The action doesn’t pause during cleaner vision, giving players a good opportunity to plan routes around the patrolling cops.
In between contracts the Cleaner returns home and converses with his mother, often hearing news items on the radio and TV relating to the murders that he just tidied up. It’s not long, however, until the phone rings again and there’s another mess to sort out.
The 70s-inspired soundtrack, matches the decade that the story is set. Groovy guitar riffs and funky beats contrast the otherwise grim goings on.
The game’s art style is inspired. I don’t usually go for the look of retro-games- I had enough pixelated adventures the last time around. Serial Cleaner goes for a simplistic but effective 2D paper-craft look full of browns and tan as was all the rage back in the 1970s.
Serial Cleaner is one of those games really suits the Switch. The levels are relatively brief, making them perfect for snatching a quick go on the move. If you like a bit of tongue-in-cheek stealth, this one is for you.