STAFF REVIEW of Serial Cleaner (Xbox One)


Monday, July 31, 2017.
by Brent Roberts

Serial Cleaner Box art Back in the 70's life was much simpler. There was church on Sunday, organized crime was prevelant, and there were those that "cleaned up the mess" so to speak. Things were simple, and that's how Curve Digital likes it in their latest release, Serial Cleaner for the Xbox One. Priced at $14.99, you can imagine that Serial Cleaner is going to have to put on one quality show to warrant a higher price tag for a geometric puzzle game. Is this retro looking 'clean up game' worth it though?

I previously mentioned the word simple because that is what Serial Cleaner is. SIMPLE. Deceptively simple. As you would think, given the title of the game, you play the role of "The Cleaner" who lives with his family. He has a normal house in a normal suburban neighborhood and drives a red station wagon. Yep, you are definitely painted as the "normal kid"; however, all that changes once you get a phone call to 'clean' as we see the flip side of the coin. Each phone call represents a different job (level) that your cleaner skills is going to have to take care of. Now, to do that you will have to accomplish a few tasks.


First off, you have to dispose of numerous bodies that are scattered about the crime scene. Then, while you're doing that you will also have to look for various pieces of evidence, but you have to be careful, because when you remove a piece of evidence you will alert police who will be drawn to that area to search to see where the evidence is/has gone. While you're doing all of that you will also have to use your magical vacuum (seriously, like an ancient 1960's massive upright vacuum) to vacuum up a certain amount of blood (you are a cleaner after all). To make all of this worth your time, each job has a souvenir that you can collect and store in your trophy room at your home.

Here's the kicker though, you will have to do all of this while managing to avoid the 'cones of vision' that come from the patrolling police officers. To do this you have to hide in various outlets, and utilize the map to your advantage by triggering switches at correct times to shift the layout and design of the map in your favor. In order to see all these possible outlets and avenues you will have what is called 'cleaner vision' where you hold the LT and the map zooms out to give you an overview of the entire area.


In this view you will see where bodies are laying, the evidence is sitting, hiding spots, body disposal sites, and so much more. Sadly though, you cannot move while in this vision mode so it's best to plan your pathway well in advance, because should you get caught, the level will reset and all the bodies and evidence will be moved around thus taking your well thought out plan and tossing it right out the window. Once you have completed the tasks, which means you've cleaned the area, you hop in your station wagon and flee the scene.

Things seem simple enough though right? Nothing too challenging....well, you'd be wrong. As you start progressing through the levels the difficulty level ramps up. While the preliminary missions allow you to get you used to the fundamentals of the game itself, the real challenge is when Serial Cleaner expands the map size and increases the number of officers patrolling. I've lost count how many times I've had a great plan laid out I have executed it perfectly, but then on the last body, I hit a switch that activates one end, but opens another which draws the attention of a police officer who then comes and spots me, chases me down and I have to restart the level and my plan. This is incredibly frustrating, which is why I said Serial Cleaner is deceptively simple.


Now, if I'm honest, there isn't much in terms of replayability for Serial Cleaner, but to help that out Curve Digital has scattered numerous Easter eggs throughout the levels. If you take the time to explore the maps and levels there are hidden items that you come across that act as bonus missions you can play. These are are parodies of various movies such as Aliens and Star Wars. Personally, I think these levels alone are worth their own standalone game as the whole "hide and seek" aspect works wonders across a lot of iconic movies and genres.

I have to admit that I am not too particularly fond of the visual presentation of the game itself. I'm not a fan of the geometric layout and design, nor the music, but while I can play some different music through a different source, I can't do anything about the graphics. That's normally about the time when you start to realize the sad reality of Serial Cleaner. There's little replayability for a game that's based off one core aspect, and something like this unfortunately starts you off right behind the 8 ball. Couple this with mediocre music and a graphic style that is almost an insult to the 70's with its bland atmosphere, you understand that $14.99 seems to be too much to pay for a $4.99 game. Sadly, while not true organized crime, $14.99 for Serial Cleaner is feels like organized theft at this price.




Overall: 6.3 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10

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