Blood, guts, stealth, disco, flares and Cillit Bang; if this combo-platter sounds superb to you, strap yourself in for the latest game from master indie publisher Curve Digital: Serial Cleaner.
100%ing everything is a big challenge, but well worth it for the bonus movie-themed levels and comedy costumes - John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever outfit, anyone?
Before long you migrate from small maps with plenty of cover and a few sluggish cops, into tight corridors where you’ll have to use sound decoys (boom boxes and PA systems) and larger areas with heavy patrols, in which shortcuts and moveable objects (vehicles and sliding doors) come in very handy in avoiding the rozzers.
As you advance through the game you’ll find the police become much more unpredictable in their patrol patterns, with the size of their vision cones and their movement speed also swelling to propel the difficulty skywards. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the sanctity of hidey holes like shrubbery, Metal Gear-parodying cardboard boxes and oil drums to avoid them.
Getting caught resets the current level you’re on, which in turn leads to a new randomly-generated objective layout for the map, with bodies, evidence and the like now in different places to keep you on your toes. This adds a lot of replayability - 100%ing everything is a big challenge, but well worth it for the bonus movie-themed levels and comedy costumes (John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever outfit, anyone?) you’ll unlock - whilst also aiding in improving your strategy, which is a big help when it comes to the tenacious later levels.
Developer ifun4all have not only spoilt us with sublimely simplistic story and gameplay, but also a gorgeous graphic novel visual style. Framed from a top-down perspective, you’ll be treated to what we can only describe as a retro-futuristic style; almost as if the characters from Dexter’s Laboratory had been passed through a meat grinder. Each level has its own harmonious colour scheme too, adding to the overall diversity. Serial Cleaner really does deserve a comic book series, if anybody in the know happens to be listening...
And then we have the music, oh, how we love the music! The 70s setting provides a sumptuous musical period to plunder, and Serial Cleaner takes no prisoners in dropping cop show-style themes, disco, funky brass-riddled numbers, screechy heavy metal solos and cock rock. Every piece of music is a gem; believe us when we say, the game is worth getting for the soundtrack alone.
So, as we hide Henry the Hoover back in the cupboard, and peel off the Marigolds, we’re left with nothing but praise for Serial Cleaner. For a first time console developer to carry out such a simple premise with such character and panache is a truly admirable feat. We’d have loved a multiplayer cops vs cleaner mode, but we really can’t complain: £11.99 is an absolute steal for what is, personally speaking, the only game that’s come close to Breath of the Wild this year.