se­rial cleaner

Avoid the filth, clean up the filth – make up your mind!

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - ROBERT DOU­GLAS

Stealth is a tricky genre for developers to get bang-on, as it requires a deft and sub­tle bal­ance be­tween tak­ing power away from the player but still en­sur­ing that they feel em­pow­ered.

Think of the best stealth he­roes: Bat­man, Snake, Sam Fisher or Agent 47. In their most core stealth-flavoured ad­ven­tures, they wouldn’t last sec­onds in a straight fight. Out­num­bered, out-gunned/knifed, and with the con­sti­tu­tion of a wet nap­kin when it comes to a straight-up ruckus, these he­roes nev­er­the­less felt pow­er­ful. The trick is that great stealth games en­sure that the player is given the right tools for the job. It’s not just about stay­ing out of sight, but about mak­ing de­lib­er­ate de­ci­sions based off the sand­box be­fore you and, well, play­ing with it. Se­rial Cleaner does not do this. Not at all.

Strip tease

In fact it strips ev­ery­thing back, leav­ing you, a guy whose job it is to clean up the mess left be­hind af­ter mass killings, to dart about a se­ries of top down lev­els. Avoid­ing the cops and clean­ing up splashes of blood are the or­der of the day, bro­ken up by bouts of body shuf­fling and awk­ward door puz­zles. It’s in­fu­ri­at­ing. A stan­dard play ses­sion plays out thusly. You start a level and must eye up the map as a whole to get a han­dle on en­emy place­ments, pa­trol routes and the lo­ca­tions of all the req­ui­site

“The whole ex­pe­ri­ence falls flat, and quickly be­comes ir­ri­tat­ing”

bob­bins that you need to col­lect/ clean. You ex­per­i­ment with a route. You fail and you get caught. Then you try again. You get a bit far­ther and then fail again and start over again. Now, this is fine when restarts are quick and breezy à la Hot­line Mi­ami or when fail­ure is all about the steady ac­crual of the nec­es­sary knowl­edge and mus­cle mem­ory re­quired in or­der to suc­ceed à la Dark Souls. The prob­lem here is that this is oc­cur­ring within a play space where you have so lit­tle tan­gi­ble or sat­is­fy­ing agency. There is no ad­e­quate spin of your role here be­yond just not be­ing seen. Other he­roes might stalk from the shad­ows, ful­ton bal­loon out use­ful sol­diers, utilise gad­gets in dif­fer­ent ways or change cos­tumes to evade dreaded fail states.

While the idea of a pared-back hard­core stealth game sounds tasty, with­out at least some kind of in­ter­est­ing choice to make the whole ex­pe­ri­ence falls flat, and quickly be­comes ir­ri­tat­ing. Upon suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of a Se­rial Cleaner level you are more likely to punch your card and call it a night than punch the air and get stuck into the next.

One es­pe­cially in­fu­ri­at­ing el­e­ment which oc­curs across some lev­els is the ran­dom re­dis­tri­bu­tion of the col­lectible ob­jects. You can spend an age analysing en­emy pa­trols and fig­ur­ing out a safe route to a cer­tain cor­ner of the map. You can then fail do­ing some­thing else after­wards and then the same ob­ject will be in a dif­fer­ent place next time, ren­der­ing all your work (for this can’t re­ally be called play) and mus­cle mem­ory com­pletely worth­less.

Stealth fans, heed our warn­ing: Se­rial Cleaner might prom­ise a hard­core genre fix, but be­hind the ‘70s ve­neer lies a game that takes plea­sure in leav­ing you fum­ing. And un­like ac­tual clean­ing it awards you with none of the sat­is­fac­tion of a job well done.

Be­low Those switches all need pulling in the cor­rect or­der and at the cor­rect time. Yep.

right Run away and hide be­fore be­ing caught, but this can take more ef­fort than it’s worth.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.