You are The Cleaner. After mobsters take out their enemies, it’s down to you, as a reliable and trustworthy professional crime scene cleaner, to vacuum up the blood that’s been splattered everywhere, hide the bodies, and remove any evidence.
Whether that be a factory in the suburbs, the aftermath of a boxing match, a romantic date that’s gone wrong, a newspaper publisher’s office, or a farmer’s market not far from town, business is booming in Serial Cleaner. With your time between contracts spent at home with your Mom, it’s a facade that is easy to maintain as you wait for the phone to ring to let you know about your next job.
That will see you sneak your way around crime scenes, the preceding phone call letting you know how many bodies you will need to collect and what evidence you will need to look out for. Identifying what you need to retrieve is made easier with the ZL Button, activating Cleaner Sense that sees the camera pan out to highlight bodies and evidence in red, anything that you can interact with in yellow, and places where you can hide in turquoise. And, once you have scouted everything out, it’s time to spring into action.
It is the doughnut-munching cops that guard the crime scenes that you need to keep an eye on, their cone of vision constantly shifting as the look for trespassers on their patrol routes. It’s not hard to elude them, but, if you are spotted, you will need to dive headfirst into a hiding location or risk being caught and having to start the contract all over again.
Snagging incriminating evidence isn’t particularly troublesome in Serial Cleaner, but the bodies can be. The white diamond shape beneath your character indicates how much noise you’re making, and carrying a dead body not only makes your movement become slower but your fumbling footsteps far louder. Make it back to your car though, and you can shove the bagged body into the boot.
It won’t come as a particular surprise that the crime scenes become more elaborate as you progress, not only larger in scale with more cops around to catch you meddling with the crime scene but requiring that you shove supply crates, slide open doors, and use switches to move shipping containers in order to successfully complete the contract. This constant inventiveness alleviates some tedium creeping in, but it’s certainly a game that’s best enjoyed in bursts than a lengthier play session.
The 70s-inspired setting is an inspired choice as is the groovy soundtrack, resulting in a game that not only stands out for its unique gameplay but thanks to a distinct graphical style and, dare I say it, vibe. Those that want to hunt out film reels that are hidden in the story contracts can unlock movie-inspired bonus contracts, while copies of Eleganzza magazine will unlock new outfits for The Cleaner to wear. There are also challenges, either set in the day or at night, for those that want some added pressure.
There’s no business like the cleaning business, and that’s certainly the case with Serial Cleaner. Distinctly unique from anything else available on the Nintendo eShop for Nintendo Switch, as you steadily accumulate evidence for your trophy collection, it’s hard not to recognise a job well done.