Outer space can be a dangerous place, with hostile alien forces ripping you in half, killer plants on the loose, and murderous corporations covering up their strange experiments by eliminating anyone capable of spreading the word. The question that RuneStorm's Viscera Cleanup Detail dares to ask, is who cleans up the mess when everything’s said and done? Well, if you’ve purchased the game, congratulations — it’s you!
Viscera Cleanup Detail is a concept born from dark humor. Players will load up the game and arrive at their grim-looking janitorial office to select from a variety of available work assignments. These assignments include different maps of varying sizes, all home to a different story that you will slowly unravel as you work to make everything squeaky clean again. The first map we tried out, Athena’s Wrath, places you right in the center of a gigantic mess. Bodies torn to pieces, puddles of blood everywhere, and strange green goo coating the walls. Upon exploring the map you’ll discover that the company you work for has left you tools to aid you in the task of cleaning.
The way you go about the process of cleaning is left entirely up to you, and once you begin you’ll realize that Viscera Cleanup Detail is more than a strange, and wonderfully unique concept. Essentially, the game is a cleverly disguised puzzle/strategy game where you will have to work smarter, not harder, to complete the objective. Failure to clean things properly will result in your inevitable demotion, as your company has zero tolerance for poor workmanship. So where do you begin? That’s a good question, and one that’s only vaguely answered. The best way to tackle the game is simply to dive right in and get to work.
You have yellow biohazard buckets and a machine that 3D prints more. Once the bucket is full there’s an incinerator where you can burn the bucket and everything you’ve dumped inside it. In addition, there’s a machine that spits out buckets of water to clean your noodly-looking mop, and you’ll quickly learn that the buckets and the machine that doles them out are one of the most punishing aspects of this game. Essentially, when we first played this game we tested out the mechanics by making things infinitely dirtier than they were before. If you aren’t careful and knock over your mop bucket, the contents will spill out dirtying the section of floor you just finished mopping. To make matters worse, you will likely also leave a trail of bloody footprints behind you as you walk back to the machine to get yourself another bucket.
The machine isn’t very friendly, and will sometimes randomly spit out body parts (which you will have to clean). Your noodle mop can be used to clean with the left mouse button, or smack things around violently with the right mouse button. The poor unfortunate souls who passed away and left their corpses behind? Well, you will have to hoist them up and carry them over to the incinerator. These individuals have also dropped little USB drives, notes, and data pads all containing sensitive information. You are not advised to destroy these (although you definitely can), and are instead given a blue crate to dump them in.
Before they lost their lives, the scientists working on your map had a grand time eating Chinese take-out and drinking beer. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to get the refuse into a trash bin, forcing you to have to hunt down every can and container they've strewn about the map. The same goes for expended bullet cartridges from scientists who made a last-minute effort to destroy the malicious creatures coming after them. After you’ve completed the arduous task of cleaning the map, you will walk to the exit door and indicate you wish to leave. If you feel you could have done better, you can complete a survey (that seemingly doesn’t care about the answers you give it) for extra marks.
Overall, Viscera Cleanup Detail is a surprisingly fun puzzle game filled with dark humor and the freedom to do whatever you like. There’s a co-op mode where you and other space janitors can clean together (or destroy the place), and three odd DLC expansions for the game. One for Shadow Warrior complete with katanas and ninja stars, a horror-themed DLC reminiscent of an 80s slasher film, and a DLC expansion for Santa’s Workshop of all things. After exiting the game (with it scolding you for being a spineless quitter), you will be surprised to realize you just spent two hours cleaning up viscera and gore. Because of this, Viscera Cleanup Detail is one of the best and strangest indie puzzle games on Steam.
For more indie game reviews and features here at Indie Obscura be sure to check out our picks for the top five indie horror games, why you shouldn't mess with mother nature in our Don't Starve review, and a review of the fun hack-and-slash game Chivalry Medieval Warfare.
- Interesting take on the strategy genre
- Diverse selection of maps to choose from
- Genuinely funny humor
- Lacks a comprehensive tutorial