STAFF REVIEW of Serial Cleaners (Xbox One)

Thursday, October 27, 2022.
by Heather Webster

Serial Cleaners Box art New York 1999, it's New Years Eve, and the four man cleaning crew has gathered to reminisce about past jobs and what got them started. Serial Cleaners is the sequel game to Serial Cleaner, which was the developer's gem released in mid 2017. This single-player, stealth action, crime game is one of the bloodiest games I think I've ever played, and I play Mortal Kombat. You alternate between playing four very different mob cleaners, taking on all of the bloodiest jobs that became available in the 1990's.

As they all continue to share the details of their stories they eventually stop matching up, and the truth behind what they really do becomes revealed. Your job, whether you want it or not, is to clean murder scenes for the mob in this 90's drenched fantasy, inspired by cult movies "Reservoir Dogs", "Pulp Fiction" and "The Usual Suspects". It brings you to various locations, tasking you with cleaning up dead bodies, evidence and blood, all while not being noticed doing illegal things by passers-by and cops.

With four unique characters, each with different skill sets and styles, this stealth action game has intuitive controls with a non-linear storyline and choices to make that determine what happens next. Serial Cleaners is more of a problem solver than a puzzle solver. The game gives you something called the 'Cleaner Sense' to make important decisions about what needs to be cleaned and learn what, and who, is around nearby that might affect your ability to complete the job.

As the storyline continues you play as each of the cast, so here's a little intro; You have Bob C. Leaner - he's well-rounded, his playstyle is slow and methodical. He uses the environment to hide and confuse the officers but can quickly retreat by sliding over the pools of blood, but that means you will have more to clean up after. Next, we have Vip3r Erin Reed - tech skills and overall smarts make up for her short stature. She can short-circuit electrical devices from a further distance and hack computer terminals to get an advantage over the patrolmen. Lati Latisha Thomas - prefers to hightail it out of view rather than hide. She uses her surroundings to her advantage by jumping, climbing and sliding over obstacles. Last up, we have Psycho Haldor “Hal” Boen - rough, dirty and couldn't be subtle enough to save his life. He can’t hide easily. Along with the hoover, Hal always carries his old trusty chainsaw. Cutting dead bodies to pieces and throwing limbs around potentially at officers to knock them out and hide them instead of him hiding.

With a unique art direction inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat's street art and postmodernism, for those of you who don't know who he was, he was an American artist who rose to success during the 1980's as part of the Neo-expressionism movement. I think the developers have really shown that well given that is the style they were going after and nailed it on the head. Otherwise, the 60FPS seems perfect for playing, as not only does the game have influence from great movies of the past, but the aesthetic design helps portray that you are playing a game in that era.

The soundtrack was created with Joshua Eustis. His idea when creating the soundtrack was to just riff off of existing well-known tracks from the 90's. His choices in what you hear are based on who you're playing in an effort to express the rooted subculture, but he managed to do it in a way that each track related and influenced each other which really brings you back to the 90's in an almost nostalgic way.

When I first started playing Serial Cleaners I was very frustrated because I didn't see any way not to get captured, so I put it down for a couple of days. Once I went went back to it, I have since changed my tune. Serial Cleaners is very bloody and gruesome and at times annoying. Still, once you figure out that you need to learn the patrols and see what kinds of things you can do to distract the officers, this opens up a fantastic opportunity to mess with cops in ways you can't necessarily do in real life, such as hacking a computer and turning the lights off on the other side of the room, or using a chainsaw to make an officer pass out from fear. I also really got a kick out of the fact that when you are cutting up a corpse, it gets censored. I have really enjoyed Serial Cleaners, I just suggest that if you have kids, play this one after they go to sleep as it is quite bloody.

**Serial Cleaners was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series S**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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