There seems to be a new trend in indie game design that is about taking seemingly menial tasks and turning them into a whole game. They would usually have interesting backstories and various other elements to mix things up. But the backbone of these games is seemingly repetitive actions that turn out to be well thought out. A good example is Papers, Please, which was about bureaucratic red tape. This time though, it’s about cleaning. Wouldn’t it be funny to play this game while procrastinating on your household chores?
Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa’s Rampage is quite a mouthful for a title, and it turns out to be a handful as well to play as it introduces the concept of a housecleaning simulator in a very novel (and morbid) setting. It was developed by RuneStorm using the Unreal Engine, and it features somewhat cartoonish graphics that seems best for the dark comedy that this game features. Almost everything does have a tinge of orange though due to the light from the (ominous-looking) fireplace, so you’ll have to get used to that.
You play as a janitor who arrives at the residence of one Santa Claus, who seemed to have left behind the remnants of a massacre due to alcoholic rage. Knives, shotgun shells, whiskey bottles, dead bodies, and blood are scattered all over the place, and it’s your job to clean it all up. You are armed with a mop for cleaning up blood and soot, a “MuckGyver” for detecting messes, and your own two hands for grabbing and interacting with stuff.
During the start of the game, you start from the front door, which is itself strewn with bloody elf corpses. You learn of the story behind the endeavor you’re about to dive into, as well as the name and age of the character you’re currently playing as for some reason. There’s a sense of surreality in the whole thing, with you being trapped in what has become a house of horrors with all the blood and guts scattered around that you must now clean.
There is a “Slush-O-Matic” water dispenser there to give you buckets of water to clean your mop with, as well as a Biohazard bin dispenser for the bodies. Once you’re done, you can go back to the entrance and clock out. But even if you think that you’ve cleaned everything though, it’s most likely that you’re not really done yet. To find those last bits of gunk that you missed out on, you can use the MuckGyver to find them.
You have to contend with the ragdoll physics that seems to punish mistakes quite quickly. Whenever you do something wrong or stumble upon something unexpected, you’ll have to clean up after what results from it. Whether you trip over a bucket full of blood or the water dispenser suddenly chucks out a C4 that’s about to blow, you have no excuses and must still clean it up. If you die from an explosive, then you play as the next cleanup guy who must now clean up after whatever mishap your previous incarnation had gotten himself into. In other words, you are only really finished when you’re finished, no more and no less.
This game can be surprisingly frustrating, due to how mundane and repetitive the gameplay seems to be, but that’s actually the point. If MMO players can grind for hundreds of hours in order to level up their characters, you can spend at least a couple of hours to clean everything up here, down to the last drop of blood. You also have to deal with the bugs and glitches that are still left over, although perhaps you can take them as part of the game as well due to how deplorable the condition that your character is in. You can quit though by clocking out prematurely, perhaps due to how traumatic your experience has been.
If you weren’t able to celebrate the previous Holiday Season well enough, you can relive that Christmas Spirit in a unique way. This game is available now on Steam for $2.49, which is a trifle compared to having this in your collection to troll both yourself and your friends.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 7.5/10