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PAX East Preview: Serial Cleaner

If you’re up for a challenging game of hide and seek mixed with cleaning up dead bodies, Serial Cleaner is for you. The name of the game on this one is to swoop into crime scenes, avoid the police, clean up the mess, snatch any lingering evidence and dispose of the bodies. You’ve gotta balance taking your time, but don’t get caught dilly-dallying.

The game takes place in the 1970s and you’re the go-to guy when things get messy. Roll up in your sweet shagin’ wagon and get to work. The tools in your arsenal are limited. You’ve got a vacuum cleaner that cleans up blood like no other, but it is noisy. Make too much noise and the police will come investigate. You can grab and carry dead bodies to dispose of them in the drop points on each level. Sometimes that means getting back to your sweet ride, but sometimes it means feeding them to hungry alligators in the nearby swamp. Or heck, why not just toss it out a window? No body, no problem. That’s what I say.

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From a gameplay perspective the game is a test of timing and patience. Move too fast and you’ll get noticed, but move to slow and you’ll also get noticed. The levels are procedurally generated, so while the overall layout of the level won’t change, the locations of bodies and evidence will each time you have to restart. There are also sometimes places you can hide on levels too (dumpsters, cabinets, etc.) and those will sometimes change as well, so you can’t always go with the same gameplan if your first attempt fails. It adds a nice spice to the game because you can’t just plow through each level, and certainly can’t just try and repeat the same steps if you get got by the police. You need to use your environment to your advantage. Hiding in dumpsters to let the cops pass by is sometimes a smart play, but also might get you trapped depending on where the cops path is. Sometimes you need to create a distraction or make some noise to shift them out of their patterns.

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Thankfully the cops have a “radar” view so you can see where they might be able to detect you as you’re navigating around to avoid detection. Don’t rely on it too heavily though, as the game gets harder in further levels. Cops become smarter, and more aware of their surroundings. You can only run at one speed so if you don’t have time to hide or distract them another way, it’s game over. 

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I got to spend a good amount of time running through a few levels at PAX East and I enjoyed it a lot. It definitely reminds me of games like Party Hard, from a gameplay perspective. Serial Cleaner goes a step farther though; the game uses real world data to change the levels to reflect your time of day in-game. So with that, there is another element of if you want to change the game up, don’t play it at the same time as you normally do. The single frame environment where everything in the level is visible on screen has always been fun because you can actively plan out and assess situations while in-progress. You don’t really need to stop and think “boy I sure hope there’s nobody outside this door when I open it.”

tl;dr: All in all, I think this will be a fun game to play, and a fun game to watch people play (hey Twitch streamers!). Works in short or long gaming sessions because of level design. Concept is fun and enjoyable, but still delivers a pretty tough challenge as the levels progress.

So keep your eyes peeled for this one’s release, which is currently in Steam Early Access for $9.99. It is coming to console (PS4/Xbox One) so if you’re more a console person you may have to wait a little bit.

For more information, check out the developer’s website iFun4All or the Steam page.

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-Written by Andrew(@SoAfterISaid)