I’ll be honest one of my most hated jobs to do is hovering… I hate it with a passion, but hats off to Polish studio Draw Distance for making me actually want to bust out the vacuum- well in their new game that is. Serial Cleaners is the sequel to the indie gem Serial Cleaner, which took the Hotline Miami formula and turned it on its head, having you cleaning up crime scenes instead of making a mess. It was refreshing spin on the genre that added a real puzzle element to things, so to say I am happy this 2017 sleeper got a sequel, is an understatement. But this time out is not quite business as usual (well in some ways), as this time you’re not alone. Instead you have a team of cleaners that help you out along the way and adds a spin to the game’s tale.
Whereas the Serial Cleaners first game was set in the 70s this new outing does a bit of jumping around in the timeline mostly between the 80s and 90s. Although worth noting the core tale has nothing really to do with the past title, so it’s real a fresh stepping on point. The story follows Bob C. Leaner, Lati, Vip3r and Psycho and each has a solid (if a bit predictable) yarn to tell, which are sometimes heavily influenced by 90s cult movies in a lot of ways. Each of the cleaners also has their own unique skill that help to keep things fresh; from being a hacker, to just having a chainsaw to help… make things fit in the bin bags. As such, some levels play better than others. As things move up and down the stealth scale with some seeing you having to totally hide in the shadows. Plus, not all cleaners are built the same, so getting rid of bodies can be a challenge – as Bob can just throw them over his shoulder, but Vip3r can only drag them.
Though Serial Cleaners levels are very bite sized and don’t take too long to clear, they do get more complex as you move through the story mode. They take place in everything from drug dens, to parking lots and even a high end yacht. The key to success is getting in, getting it clean and getting out; without being spotted is all easier said than done. Take a minute to look around at what you can and can’t do in each level and you’ll start to spot a path to take. Visually the game has a lot of style and being set in the 90s there is an almost GTA 3 vibe to everything. Dark, muddy and gloomy is the order of the day and where in other games this would be an issue, here it fits the tone perfectly. Soundtrack and voice are solid throughout with jazz being a governing tone to things… well until the poo hits the fan that is.
Serial Cleaners is a step up in every area on its original and it’s a truly fitting sequel with an interesting and invoking tale, as well as gameplay loop that is well worth your time. Now just don’t expect to see me braking out the real hover anytime soon.
An Xbox review copy of Serial Cleaners was provided by Draw Distance’s PR team, and the game is out now on PC, Xbox, Switch and PlayStation for around £25.
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