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Review: Viscera Cleanup Detail

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Adults - 18+
Genre: Work Simulation
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2015
Review Published On: May 15th, 2018
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

There is an autosave, but you can also manually save your game before you exit the game.

Don't worry about pausing the game -- nothing happens unless you do something.

Summary of
Major Issues:

This game features an astounding amount of blood and gore, which makes sense considering you're supposed to clean it all up. There's also some swearing, and a number of references to R-rated movies.


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Mmmm, BBQ

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I doubt the mop will really work here

Game Overview

Many, many games revolve around a lone hero saving the universe from ultimate evil. Perhaps a zombie apocalypse has broken out. Maybe a lone mercenary is blasting their way through a ruined landscape in search of a legendary treasure. Or perhaps the doors of Hell itself might have opened up so the demons can invade Earth.

Whatever the story, you're here to clean up after it.

Welcome to Viscera Cleanup Detail, a game where you play the part of the unlucky janitor who gets to mop up all of the blood, guts, and empty Chinese take out containers that have been left in the wake of many horrific fictional disasters. Along the way you'll be visiting laboratories, space stations, research bases, the North Pole, a cabin the woods, and other exotic locations where things went sideways.

This is one of the stranger games out there, as it's basically a simulation of menial labor. Yet, seeing the various chaotic bloody messes become clean and orderly is surprisingly satisfying. If you can stand the graphic nature of the job, and have enough free time on your hands, it's worth looking into this title.

Points of Interest

Lots of little references
As you go about cleaning the various areas, you're sure to come across references to various movies and popular games. Some are subtle, like a bathroom stall being stocked with three seashells (a reference to the movie Demolition Man). Others, such as a facehugger from the Alien franchise or the T-800s from the Terminator franchise, are impossible to miss.
Plenty of secrets
A janitor is going to be searching every nook and cranny in order to clean the place thoroughly, but there are still many secrets to find. One of the trickiest is the fate of the mysterious rogue janitor Bob, whose exploits are referenced in notes found on every level. Finding Bob isn't the end of that story either, as there's one more place to explore once you have his key. There are also a set of easter eggs -- as in, actual decorated eggs, not what gamers usually call easter eggs -- hidden out of sight.
Steam community features
There are a lot of achievements to earn -- 72 in all -- but only a small handful of them can be earned by completing the game's official levels. Many of them involve stashing specific items in your trunk or using the trunk to carry items between levels. Even if you use guides to help you find everything, you'll be busy for quite a while.

This game is also integrated with the Steam Workshop, allowing players to create and share their own levels. Thus, a janitor's job is truly never done.

For those who collect them, there are also Steam trading cards available.
Co-op Multiplayer
A team will get the job done much faster than a person working alone, so bring a friend along and clean up the world together. In addition to making the game easier, having friends help you will also make it easier to accomplish some of the achievements. Or not -- there are plenty of opportunities for people to have some laughs messing with each other. For example, if one of you can locate a laser welder...
Death is cheap
There's a reason that these janitors don't have much insurance coverage. There are a lot of ways for you to die while on call. Fortunately, death is just a slap on the wrist. All that happens is you respawn as a spiffy new hire, and there's a slightly bigger mess for you to clean up. Some achievements can also be earned by "accidentally" meeting your demise in specific ways.
Quirky music
The soundtrack is composed of various techno / electronica songs, which may or may not be your thing. The interesting thing though is how it's implemented. Each level contains a portable boom box, and the music plays through it! Just like in real life, the farther you get from your stereo, the quieter the music. You can also change the song being played by interacting with the boom box's controls. Personally, I found it more fun to listen to horror stories while playing this game, so I kept the stereo switched off.
Objects can disappear
Probably the most frustrating part of cleaning a level is when you're going back over your handiwork with the Sniffer and it goes crazy in an area where there's absolutely nothing. Bullet casings and small bits of gore can clip through the environment, making them impossible to see or reach. However, they are still counted against you despite the fact that you can't see them. One possible solution is to find a broom and sweep the area in hopes of pushing the offending object back into the level, but this doesn't always work.
Sometimes, the game just trolls you
There's an automated merchant on every level that produces things like portable lights and medical kit refills. Every so often, it'll just spit out a paper advertisement instead of the item you requested, wasting your time. The bin and water bucket dispensers have a nastier habit: they randomly produce body parts instead of what they are intended to give you. This creates extra mess, and I noticed that viscera created this way tends to be more likely than usual to get stuck in the environment. On the Santa's Rampage level, the water dispenser can even produce lit dynamite. The explosion that creates results in a huge mess, and it will kill you if you're anywhere nearby when it goes off.

Of course, some players consider this to be part of the fun, so YMMV. It can ruin your chances of earning some achievements however, meaning that you'll need to start the level over again.
Long sessions
Most of the levels take over an hour to clean thoroughly. The larger levels can even take three hours or more. Thankfully, you can save whenever you want and come back to the job later on, but don't plan on this being a short game. It's easy to lose track of time while you're busy wiping an alien's blood off the walls.

Concerns and Issues

For a game that doesn't feature NPCs, it's a bit surprising to find that there's a fair amount of swearing present. Most of it is found in the notes left scattered around the levels, but you'll also find it painted on walls. In the Shadow Warrior DLC, you'll also hear your character use some colorful language as you clean.
Blood and gore
This is somewhat obvious, considering that the point of the game is to clean up the aftermath of one violent battle after another. Most of the gore consists of human and alien arms, torsos, legs, and so on, with a bloody tear where the part is separated. Smaller bits of gore include skull fragments and strips of intestine, though the Shadow Warrior DLC also contains separate hearts and stomaches.

Additional remains can be added to any level through a few different means, usually by "accidentally" dying yourself. Also, both of the dispensers can malfunction and produce bloody chunks instead of their intended product. The waste bin dispenser is the more "productive" of the two, as it drops several parts at once compared to the water bucket dispenser's habit of only producing one object at a time.

On top of this, it's possible (and to a degree, recommended) to use the laser welder to cook flesh down into balls of hot meat. Depending on the level, this can greatly ease your workload, as the meatballs don't leave a mess behind and are easier to toss about and carry than the original body parts.
Desecration of the dead
Corpses, or what's left of them, are one of the things you'll spend the game cleaning up. To do this, you throw the remains into an on-site incinerator (or in the Halloween DLC, a wood chipper). Thus, nobody will be getting a proper burial. Adding insult to injury, the rogue janitor Bob had a penchant for keeping his favorite bits as "trophies", and several of the achievements prompt you to use your office to do the same.
Occult and horror movie references
The Halloween DLC is one large homage to popular horror, so it's to be expected that there are a lot of less than wholesome things going on. On the tamer side, you can find iconic things from classic horror films like Friday the 13th, Halloween, and the Evil Dead. More disturbing things include oujia boards, tarot cards, pentagrams, a hidden shrine to a Cthulhu-like entity, and even a crucified body.
Questionable recreational activities
Considering that just about everything so far has been about blood or gore in some form, this last thing comes out of left field. In the robotics lab, there's a log entry that talks about how someone's coworker likes to do questionable things with the humanoid service droids.