Slip on your flares, grab your shades and hop in your station wagon, it’s time to work… as a mob professional cleaner. A good cleaner never gets caught, so you have to make sure you get in, clean up and get out without leaving a trace of evidence in this stylish award winning 2D action-stealth game.
Time Played: 7 hours
Console: Nintendo Switch
Recommended For: Adults, Fans of Stealth Games
Content Warning: Death / Murder / Violence / Blood
Guilty pleasure admission, I LOVE this game. It’s got gorgeous artwork, slick game mechanics, increasingly complex puzzles to solve, and a fun plot packed with twists!
A mysterious phone call to your house and off you hop in your 70s card to a horrific crime scene. Enter, you. You play the role of “The Cleaner” and for once, rather than play a gun-toting maniac (like 99% of other games out there), you take on the joyous role of tidying up after said maniacs. Picture Grand Theft Auto but once you’ve driven away leaving bodies in the wake, the cleaner comes in with his mop and vacuum to save the day.
The inner Marie Kondo in me makes this an absolute joy to play. You must quietly slip into a building undetected, clean up as fast and quietly as you can, and disappear into the night. Never mind the hilarity that comes once a police officer’s back is turned you jump out from behind a plant pot and scrub the crime scene until it’s sparkling – only to have them turn back around, say “huh?” and continue on with their walking pattern.
So apparently I love cleaning? Tell that to the pile of dishes in my sink and laundry I forgot to put out this morning. But a game like Serial Cleaner is so much more than a cleaning simulation. It’s a stealth game at it’s heart and, in the most classic sense of the word, an escape room game. Yes, you literally have to escape into and out of rooms, armed with switches, hidden passages, oh and cleaning equipment?
Each ‘Contract’ comes by phone. You never know who you’re talking to and each murder scene gets grizzlier and more complex with each contract. But you’ve got bills to pay and therefore blood to clean.
My number one favourite thing about this game however is the artwork. It is…GORGEOUS. With it’s film-inspired costumes, clunky cars, brilliant shadows and lighting and funky soundtrack to boot. Makes you want to unbutton your shirt a few and don some aviator glasses.
Yes, the game is frustrating. Very much so! My regular escape room Player 2 didn’t get much further than Contract 3 before putting the game down. I, after a 4 day binge, eventually completed the game with a resounding breath of relief. You can spend 15 minutes painstakingly working your way around a level, picking up bodies, hiding and timing, flicking switches… Only to have a police office immediately shoot you dead because they turned quicker than you were expecting. Then it’s back to the start of the level. Every time.
But, when you DO complete a level, the feeling is euphoric. Why yes, I am the greatest cleaner of all time! Take that, cops!
Fans of the game will be pleasantly pleased to hear a sequel is in the works! The Cleaner (and a whole new team) are brought up to date (sorta) to a new setting – the 90s! The map is now 3D, the cops harder, the puzzles more complex, and the crime scenes grimmer. In short, I cannot wait.
Serial Cleaner can be played on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC & Mac. Check out and support the developers, Draw Distance on their website here.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.