Serial Cleaners: We tried a stealth puzzle with a criminal flavor

Serial Cleaners: We tried a stealth puzzle with a criminal flavor

Serial Cleaners

Producing a following always provides a great opportunity: to do better than in the past. After seeing Serial Cleaners at the 505 Games booth during Gamescom 2022, we can say that the Draw Distance team has certainly been able to seize the opportunity, greatly improving the formula of its top-down stealth.

Coming September 22 to Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and major Windows PC digital stores, here are our impressions after trying Serial Cleaners.

Cast and setting

In Serial Cleaners new cleaners are added from the team Instead of using a 2 to indicate the nature of the sequel, Draw Distance adds an S to the original title, making perfectly clear the most important news of this sequel. The first chapter was set in the '70s and featured Bob C. Leaner as the only protagonist: Bob is a cleaner, the one to call to clean up a crime scene. Collect incriminating evidence, clean blood and fingerprints, collect dead bodies and make them disappear into thin air.

Not an easy feat, because a crime scene is always guarded by policemen and prying eyes and this is where the stealth element of production strikes. In Serial Cleaners Bob is not alone, on the contrary, he has put together a whole team. In addition to Bob, the player will be able to take on the role of Erin Vip3r Reed, the hacker of the group, Lati Latisha Thomas, the messenger, and Haldor Hal Boen, for friends Psycho, a meticulous cleaner as well as crazy.

From a narrative point of view, Serial Cleaners is definitely more ambitious than its predecessor, since it tells a non-linear plot with multiple choices to be activated through the numerous game missions. Except for some "mandatory" assignments, where the player will be forced to play as a specific cleaner, you can always choose between two or three characters. Based on the mission preparation meeting, you will be able to choose the cleaner with the skill set that best suits the situation. The choice made will influence the subsequent phases: the more a cleaner is used, the more information is known about its past, but this choice precludes knowing the stories of others.

This is why Serial Cleaners is a highly replayable title, which can be played several times, if there is interest in learning more about the history of all the protagonists. Compared to the predecessor, the historical period of setting also changes, passing from the 70s to the 90s.

Reading the dialogues and observing the game scenarios, the inspiration for a certain cinematic specification is quite clear. The Usual Suspects, Pulp Fiction, Fight Club: Serial Cleaners is full of 90s cult atmosphere. Also thanks to the music Joshua Eustis, American composer very active in the contemporary electronic and indie scene.

View and indicators

The change of view leads to greater readability of the game environment As mentioned opening, Serial Cleaners seizes the opportunity given by the sequel to improve virtually every mechanic of the game, giving it a variety and depth that the previous chapter did not have. Mind you, Serial Cleaner wasn't a bad game, but it clearly showed potential that the production couldn't fully exploit. The first chapter was always a stealth game with an overhead view, but with a composition of the environments in 2D. A choice that is still pleasant and well integrated into the game thanks to a decidedly interesting artistic sector. However he can understand how the 2D top-down view was quite limiting after seeing and playing the missions of Serial Cleaners, which switches to a very well done 3D.

The change of view clearly allows to better decipher the surrounding environment: enemy lines of fire are more legible, making the warning of patrolling enemies unmistakable. When a policeman, or witness, sees our cleaner, a dotted line will connect them and clearly the priority will be to break the connection by running away or hiding. The sound wave emitted by the character is also easier to manage, which will appear in the form of a circle with cyan outlines, and the size of the circumference is proportional to the noise emitted. The louder the cleaner is, the greater the perimeter of the sound wave will be and, clearly, if a policeman ends up inside the perimeter, he will be alerted by the noise and will look for its source. Walking makes the cleaner practically inaudible; then there is the running, on average noisy, and finally the use of the vacuum cleaner, which emits a loud noise but is necessary to clean the blood on the floor.

Dragging the corpses will smear the floor with blood The mission type of Serial Cleaners takes place by collecting a series of key clues that must be stolen from the crime scene, removing the corpses and cleaning the blood. Evidence and corpses must necessarily be collected while the blood does not have to be completely removed, but it will be enough to clean enough to empty the bar at the top left up to the indicator of the minimum required. With blood you have to be careful because even the cleaner can spread it around the crime scene by dragging the corpses. The alternative is to carry the bodies by loading them on the shoulder, but obviously you lose speed and mobility during the transport.

Missions and special abilities

Lati is as agile as it is impetuous Completing missions is not so simple, not even the first proposals. We need to study the environment and make the most of the possibilities offered. As in the first Serial Cleaner, also in this second chapter the protagonists will never fight with the police ... after all, it is not the job of the cleaner. A good fixer moves with discretion, cleans everything and disappears without leaving a trace. However, it may happen that the situation gets hot and, for this, it is possible to disorient the cops with some objects, or by slamming a door in their face during chases. It is also essential to break patrols, create distractions and move objects and furniture. Serial Cleaners scenarios are persistent, which means that if, for example, you close a door, it will always remain closed. Obviously any changes in the crime scene will be noticed by the cops, who will start patrolling the area with more alert.

Psycho has a decidedly ... unmistakable style What makes the difference, however, is the unique ability of the character, which changes the way of playing in a decisive way. Bob is an experienced cleaner and knows how important it is to do a clean job. As a special ability he can pack corpses, which will not leave streaks of blood during the drag and will not even be noticed by passersby when the character carries them on his shoulder. It could just be a bulky rug. Despite his age, Bob is quite agile and as a second special ability he is able to glide over pools of blood by moving faster. This is perhaps one of the skills we appreciated the most because, in addition to being really beautiful to look at, dragging a corpse by smearing the floor with blood can act as a quick way out.

Lati is the troublemaker of the group, she is not interested in acting in the shadows because, even if caught, she can escape the cops thanks to her athletic skills. Lati runs faster, climbs high obstacles, slides over medium-low ones and climbs. In addition to the introductory tutorial, during our test we had the opportunity to play with another character and we chose Lati, finding his style of play still very effective despite being the most risky, given that he often plays very exposed.

Vip3r, as mentioned, is the IT expert of the group. With a bang to rival that of Angelina Jolie in Hackers, Vip3r can access the terminals scattered in the levels to take control of all the electrical sources in the area. Her play style is all about the distraction of the enemy: much safer, but one that requires perfect timing and planning.

And then there's Hal, aka Psycho. They call him that because this cleaner always travels accompanied by his trusty chainsaw, which he uses to dismember the bodies at crime scenes. As we were exiting the booth we saw a player rehearse Hal's introductory mission, which took place in a snowy setting. Here the cleaner not only looked like a corpse, but threw the pieces into a chipper, while in the character trailer he threw his foot at a policeman to stun him.

Serial Cleaners adds much more than just an S to the predecessor. This sequel undoubtedly improves the formula of the first chapter in all respects. The missions are richer, the game environment more dynamic and varied, the reading of the line of fire and noise indicators is clearer and more immediate to understand. The different skills of the cleaners change the game approach considerably: a different character can make the same mission completely different. Excellent news, because the game, through a non-linear plot, makes replayability its most important aspect and reliving the same scenarios with different cleaners makes the following games much more stimulating.


Gameplay improved from all points of view Fascinating setting and characters DOUBTS To evaluate the variety of scenarios in the long term Artificial intelligence sometimes not perfectly responsive Have you noticed any errors?

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