Ever wonder what happens after an action-packed shootout in a movie? Assuming the police don’t get there first, you’d have to think that someone gets sent over to clean up the mess, right? Shell casings, dead bodies, bloodstains, you name it—it’s all got to go, and in Serial Cleaners it’s your job to take care of it.
The game throws you into all kinds of high-intensity scenarios where you need to sort out a crime scene while avoiding the patrolling authorities and other undesirables. The story is depicted through flashback, as the titular cleaners recount their ‘glory days’ through a filter of 90s cult movie nostalgia. Taking place across iconic era-appropriate settings like old-school arcades, live-audience sitcom sets, and grimy urban locales evoking 90s New York City, Serial Cleaners is a love letter to films from directors like Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and the Coen Brothers.
The homages start on the very first mission, which is set in a drug den inspired by Scorsese’s relatively unknown (by the director’s lofty standards) Bringing Out the Dead, starring Nicolas Cage. Other stages will give you flashbacks too, such as a certain convenience store that’s reminiscent of Kevin Smith’s slacker comedy Clerks, and a train station where you need to extract a mobster who’s in the process of bleeding out (which may trigger memories of a certain Al Pacino flick that rhymes with ‘Crime Don’t Pay.’)
Wander through the arcade level, meanwhile, and you’ll see arcade cabinets adorned with legendary quotes from mistranslated 90s Japanese Arcade games.
‘All your attention are belong to us?’ Good, then let’s proceed.
It’s not just the references that make Serial Cleaners an ode to all that was great about 90s cinema, but the tone of the game. Most of the levels are drenched in moody lighting, splattered with graffiti in the style of Jean-Michel Basquiat, and accompanied by a soundtrack that evokes classic music moments, like the rave in vampiric Wesley Snipes vehicle Blade, or Nine Inch Nails’ number in Brandon Lee’s The Crow.
Maybe to distance the Cleaners from their grisly night job, or maybe simply because it’s fun, the game bases its 90s settings not on reality, but in the super-stylised way we remember them through the golden era of gritty, sharp-talking crime films that existed at this time. To that end, each character in the game is a cool ’90s archetype (with the ‘Psycho’ character Hal being a riff on the hitman Mr. Wrench from Coens’ crime caper Fargo).
Serial Cleaners is almost ready to rewind us back to its faithfully fictionalised version of the 90s. It’s not all style without substance either, as at its core this is a stealth game that will push your skills in subtlety to the limit.
Its story, we’re told, will be something quite special too, with the kind of twist that would throw even Keyser Soze into a loop. You can grab Serial Cleaners from September 22 on Steam, Epic Games Store, and GOG, as well as all major console platforms. Meanwhile, check out the game’s official site (opens in new tab) and Steam page (opens in new tab), and keep up with the latest goings-on at 505 Games through their Facebook (opens in new tab), Twitter (opens in new tab), and Instagram (opens in new tab) pages.