Stealth, puzzles and echoes of Tarantino, this is how Serial Cleaners has surprised me

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Although perhaps better known by his stage name, Harvey Keitel has gone down in film history as one of the most iconic characters in 90s cinema. Pulp Fiction dazzled the public with the irreverent daily life of some dialogues that, in the mouth of characters as atypical as the one at hand, function as a link between the most mundane day-to-day life and the exceptionality of working as a thug, gangster or clandestine boxer. . Among them, mr wolf and their occupation stand out above the rest. The fictional author of the famous phrase “Let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks yet” he introduces himself on tape as a problem solver. The problem, as the scene is articulated, is the dead bodies that Jules and Vincent (the thugs) need to get rid of. Wolf is therefore something like a home cleaning company, or rather organization of it. That concept, despite not being new, is refreshing, above all, because of the patina of professionalism that Tarantino prints through his text. Harvey Keitel is a professional, he knows his trade, and therein lies his value, in experience.

Pure Mister Wolf.

In 2017, the developer Draw Distance embraced that idea and, around it, articulated Serial Cleaner, a video game in which we play a character who is dedicated, precisely, to cleaning the crime scene so that no one can investigate what happened. The experience, as simple as it is direct and effective, has served as a springboard for the Polish developer to launch into the making of its sequel: Serial Cleanersa pleasant surprise that expands the original experience by presenting puzzles, wrapped in the irreverence typical of the Tarantine tone, in which stealth plays a major role.

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But Serial Cleaners shares with Mr. Lobo something more than the performance of such a peculiar trade. Lobo, as a character, is striking because of his pragmatism. The presentation of it in a good proof of it: “I’m Mr. Wolf, I solve problems” – he says -, and immediately afterwards he takes a few seconds to taste a good coffee. There is no room for pomp or boast, simplifies its task in favor of understanding of those who receive their services. People who usually need him have problems and he solves them. Serial Cleaners, for its part, presents us with a series of puzzles that consist of cleaning the crime scene without being discovered by the policemen who have just come. The premise, like Lobo’s presentation, is clear and concise.

Blood, bodies and evidence are the objectives that the title sets for us in each of its phases.

The task, therefore, is to remove bodies, disappear evidence and clean up blood with an efficient vacuum cleaner. The tension is given by the inefficient patrols of law enforcement bodies that roam the area, reacting to sound and visual stimuli to go (without too much haste or efficiency) to investigate any type of suspicious activity that may occur around them.

Serial Cleaners could have incurred complexities (inherent in some interpretations of stealth) such as complex trace routes, elaborate distractions, or even those great skill trees that always promise the mantra of experience personification. However, the AI ​​presented by the enemies of the title borders on the flat encephalogram, leading to reduced vision ranges, immediate amnesia and severe hearing problems. A decision that, in reality, allows the player to have more space. Free from the constraints of elaborate progress systems, and the complexities of intended simulation, his proposal stipulates the limits of our actions, facilitating immediate staging and understanding. Serial Cleaners, like Mr. Lobo, is aware of what his customers want (to play) and simplifies its rules, presenting a hard system in which it is crystal clear, from the beginning, what we can do and what not.

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Cleaning up traces of blood with the vacuum cleaner while outwitting the guards in an almost ridiculous way is very satisfying.

In this way, through a conversation starring four colleagues, several situations are presented (lacking chronological order) that will allow us to meet each of the protagonists. The nature of the characters is transferred to their action capabilities (what they can do) in a tremendously intuitive way. We will check that each of them has different abilities such as wrapping corpses, cutting them up, cleaning with a vacuum cleaner or avoiding obstacles. His fiction, despite being pleasant and having the occasional success (especially in the structuring of the story and the use of visual resources), does not deliver a particularly powerful plot. However, it successfully makes up a system that is based on a taste for simplification, as well as on its determination to make itself understood in the shortest time possible (like Mr. Wolf), delivering a straightforward and fun stealth puzzle title.

I still have a long way to go, but what has been played so far has reminded me, above all, to what extent the medium tends to underestimate the simplicity. The video game usually resorts to complexity as a shell on which to build one of the pillars of its legitimacy. The difficult and the complex are usually linked to the serious, and legitimate seriousness. But that is a path that usually ignores the elegance of reduction and the virtues of “less”, compared to the sweetness of “more”. Serial Cleaners It is not exactly a minimalist title in terms of systems and mechanics. But his final playable proposal seems to me as direct and effective as Harvey Keitel himself; he solves problems, Serial Cleaners amuses.

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