Saturday Spotlight: Viscera Cleanup Detail

Viscera Cleanup Detail 1

There is ordinarily a stark line drawn between videogame power fantasies and simulations. The former posit that YOU, the player, are a gun-toting or blade-wielding warrior hero who is either of or will rise to great repute. Or, you know, you just like to beat up on creatures that look weird. The latter posit that YOU, the player, are an ordinary gal or guy tasked with driving a tractor or pretending to be a halfway competent street cleaner or ensuring that the sewage system of a municipal district is fit for purpose.

Rarely do these two worlds collide, but – and you can see where I’m going with this if you’ve not been on board since the outset – with Viscera Cleanup Detail that promise is at last delivered upon.

Although the game’s currently only in alpha there’s enough in place for players to enjoy one of the game’s thrilling levels. Set in the aftermath of a violent and bloody alien infestation aboard a space station, VCD hands you a mop and bucket and tells you to get cleaning. Yep, you’re one of the faceless schmucks who gets to clean up the blood and gore after the meathead heroes have stormed through and slaughtered the aliens, probably dying messily themselves in the process. So get collecting those bullet cases and chunks of your former station mates, because the future evidently didn’t involve designing robots to perform menial tasks.

It remains to be seen just where the developers of Viscera Cleanup Detail plan to take the game, because in truth after spending an hour picking up bullet cases one by one and accidentally tipping a carefully-collected bucket of human offal all over the walls and floor, I’m about ready to never pick up an Unreal engine object ever again. I’m talking almost Skyrim-level thumbhands here.

That’s not to say I didn’t find VCD compelling: the entire concept is funny enough to drag you in, and once you start cleaning up that mess it’s difficult to quit before the end. In ‘Léon Loves Tetris’ Joel Goodwin posited that 3D shooters – and their 2D predecessors – are fundamentally about cleaning. I’m sure he had no idea that this game would be revealed less than a month later.

At the moment Viscera Cleanup Detail seems like a game constructed around a gag. For an experiment that draws players in for an hour or so that’s all well and good. I remain to be convinced that there’s a full game here, but I’m looking forward to the possibility that I’ll be proven wrong. Either way I recommend that you try out the alpha, because as gags go it’s a good’un.

Viscera Cleanup Detail 2

You have got to be fucking kidding me.