Considering the current state of my apartment, I find myself astounded on an intellectual level that I have any interest in RuneStorm’s Viscera Cleanup Detail. Yet, I do. A game that casts the player not in the role of the over-powered, gun toting hero but instead that of the unfortunate sap who has to clean up afterwards somehow speaks to me. I can say that when playing through some carnage soaked shooter, I have on occasion wondered about how the disaster area that was being created would end up being handled. My mind sometimes works that way, but I at least have an explanation as to why. As stated in this review title, brace yourselves. This is a true story. I am about to get icky.
Many years ago, I worked as a shoe salesman in a major department store. Payment for the job entailed an hourly wage and a commission based on sales. Therefore, it was always in my best interest to avoid being off of the sales floor as much as possible. Now, the employee restrooms were upstairs from the department whereas a public restroom was about ten feet from my department. Thus, it always behooved me to use this one and get back to work quickly. The restroom in question had one urinal and one stall.
On the fateful day in question, I went to use the restroom. Standing at the urinal, I heard a muttered “Oh, God. How did it get there?” from the stall. This was soon followed by a powerful waft of a stench so strong and so choking, that I had to leave as quickly as possible.
Based on what I heard from the stall, I waited in my department until I saw two gentlemen leave, one of whom I believe was handicapped in some way. Fearing the worst, but knowing that I had a responsibility to my place of employment and the public, I went to check the stall for damage. There is no reasonable way that I could have been prepared for what awaited.
When I say there was fecal matter everywhere, I mean everywhere. Along the walls were smears and sprays of the greenish-brown waste. Hanging from the ceiling by thick strings, droplets of dung were ready to fall. The toilet paper dispenser looked as though someone attempted to cover it with old, congealed paint. The toilet seat was a disaster area. They didn’t even bother to flush. Due to the cries of dismay I heard earlier, I expected something bad, but unintentional. This was something else.
Were there actually space in the stall, the only logical explanation was that this was the culmination of a long term plan between two people. Step one: One person proceeds to subsist only on a diet of beer, broccoli, and White Castle for a period of five years. The second person goes with anabolic steroids and protein shakes to bulk up. When the fateful date arrives, Broccoli Boy and The Steroid King enter the stall. Broccoli drops his pants and Steroid lifts him by the collar of his shirt and starts spinning him like a lasso. Broccoli lets loose, and the results are what I found.
After it was reported, there was much debate over who would be forced to clean it. The maintenance staff refused; this type of things was out of their contract. Management wouldn’t do it because, come on, they’re management. No one else would step forward. I finally volunteered with the stipulation that I be paid two hundred dollars cash. That way, I could have my suit dry cleaned after I vomited all over it as well as purchase enough top-grade alcohol to forget the whole thing. The corporate office refused to strike this bargain, so I never cleaned it.
One last thing about that: After the room was quarantined, I noticed a line of other employees forming outside the door. One or two at a time, they would enter and I would hear cries of “Oh, God!” and “What the @#$%!” I never understood that.
All of this is to say that Viscera Cleanup Detail manages to dredge up some really potent memories. Memories of poop. It is certainly a good game though. It actually manages to become a very thought out, clever puzzle game.
On my first attempt at one of many levels, I jumped right in, mopping up the pools of blood by the incinerator that is used for disposal of body parts, shell casings, and other detritus. After cleaning this area, I went to tackle another part of the level. I took a bin of severed body parts to burn, turned around, and started to make my way back. That is when I learned that I tracked gristle all over my freshly mopped floor. This is when I realized that I needed to consider my actions more wisely so that my work would be more efficient.
There was also the time that I filled a bin with parts and proceeded to trek back. At this point, I was being smarter about everything. I passed a hallway that I completely finished off. Right then, I accidentally bumped something, spilling the contents of the bin. Everything in there was still wet and I managed to completely waste a large amount of work. I rage quit out of the game.
Later that night, as I was laying in bed, I thought about this situation. Then I started giggling. The whole thing is just funny and strangely addictive. What must have started out as a “wouldn’t it be funny if…” project managed to morph into a compelling little novelty title with some staying power.
The wonderful graphics and design helps to serve this end. When cleaning the environment, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the little details I found. Someone with a casual interest in crime scene reconstruction will have a field day here. Everything and every mess feels as though it was caused by something that happened, as opposed to just being randomly strewn about. How a skull is cracked, the way a body is found slouched against the wall tells a story of a massacre and/or the epic battle that took place to stop it.
The cathartic feel of washing away blood is also satisfying. Being introduced to a horror show of place and turning it into something pristine speaks to me in a way no game ever has. This actually motivates me to improve the state of my living quarters. So, in a way, Viscera Cleanup Detail makes me want to be a better person. Strange but true. (Wife/editor note: then why didn’t you do a load of dishes today?)
Even though this title is in Early Access, I would actually call it done now. I ran into no bugs, there are tons of levels to muck out, and many little secrets and tricks to become more efficient to unravel. It even has a solid multiplayer mode in there. There is just so much to love. Even though it took me to some dark places, Viscera Cleanup Detail is a fantastic title. If I could score it now, it would be an easy five stars. To bastardize The Dark Night, it is the title that we as gamers both need and deserve.
Just try to forget my story.