Viscera Cleanup Detail: A Bloody Good Time

A Look at One of 2015's Weirdest Indies


Recently, I’ve gotten into playing an odd little game known as Viscera Cleanup Detail (VCD for short) that was fully released on Steam late last year. Now, this is the first game that I’ve actively been playing since finishing up The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, so I was looking for something simple and mildly entertaining; As in I didn’t want another emotional ride. I got what I asked for, plus a ton of unexpected laughs.

The Details

Starting up the game, the player is able to alter their avatar ever so slightly. You can pick a different color for your shirt and overalls – I went with neon green and purple, naturally – and you can name your janitor something other than “Janitor.” I named mine “Socks,” because socks are my jam.

Viscera Cleanup Detail

Upon actually beginning to play, I noticed that a lot of things are left unexplained. In fact, there’s no explanation for just about anything. When you’re dropped into the first mess, you aren’t provided a tutorial for how to play. You’re just given the tools of the trade – a mop, your hands, and something known as a “sniffer.”

Okay, so the mop and your hands are self-explanatory, but what is a sniffer? Heck if I know! I’ve been able to figure out just about everything other than the sniffer. My playing companion and I originally figured that it may be for sniffing out things to throw away or dirty sections of the floor – which it very well might be – but it’s hard to tell given that it lights up for everything you put near it. All that I know for sure is that there’s an achievement for using the sniffer for two hours; so while my companion was actually cleaning up chunks of bloody viscera, I ran around pointing the sniffer at just about anything, knocking over everything in the process just for the fun of it.


Viscera Cleanup Detail

Now, the original tools that you’re handed in the beginning of VCD are easy to get used to, but things start changing the moment you start exploring other maps. Regarding maps, Viscera Cleanup Detail certainly isn’t lacking variety. Maps range from Santa’s workshop, to a space station with changeable levels of gravity, to an underwater substation with giant tentacles. Although there are some overlapping elements within each level, complexity and hidden surprises vary greatly. My companion and I have experienced levels that took only 45 minutes, to levels that took us upwards of four hours. Granted, we might be rather terrible at time management in the game due to contests we have with tracking blood and jousting with tentacles, but I think that the developers did a fine job with level design. I remember us loading into one of the larger maps and not having any clue where to start because of the pure size. While romping around with our exploring hats on, we found new tools that we hadn’t seen in previous maps and these cool blue leakages everywhere.

This is where Viscera Cleanup Detail gets more complex. While there are the initial tools that appear in your key bindings for every level, there are also level-based tools that are unique to only a handful of maps. In the case mentioned, we found a tool that fixes plasma scars. Of course, we didn’t figure that out until we had clicked on basically everything with the tool active. From the default map of VCD, we were used to there being a weapon that had no real purpose to the level other than it was left for us to clean up. So, naturally we shot each other with it to see what it would do. The answer was nothing, but it was still fun. Because of this, we weren’t sure if the tool we’d found was something real to pay attention to, or just another thing to try to incinerate.

So Many Tools! What do they do?

Viscera Cleanup Detail

I’m certain that there’s some highly detailed protocol that the game’s judging system expects the player to follow, but my companion and I have yet to figure any of that out. With the levels we’ve played, we’ve developed a fairly good system for cleaning up the world. We start by picking up all of the chunks of the carcasses that are strewn about, and move onto throwing just about everything we find into the incinerator. Now, I’m sure that there’s a lot of stuff we could leave in the level, but we really just aren’t sure! I feel as though we should’ve heard some alarm bells go off as I threw sticks of dynamite into the incinerator, but any alarms that would’ve went off were soon drowned out by the sound of my body exploding into tiny fragments because I forgot to move out of the blast radius.

Aside from shenanigans with flammable items, our experience with the incinerator has been pretty easy. After we throw out everything, we move to the point of cleanup with buckets. This part gets tricky since sometimes the bucket dispenser enjoys spitting out more viscera rather than the intended tool, but it’s easy enough to clean up the minor messes. Once the buckets are dispatched, mopping duty begins! After all of that, the buckets and extra tools are flung into the incinerator and the job is completed.


So, what’s my overall take on Viscera Cleanup Detail? Personally, I thoroughly enjoy the game. My companion and I have had a blast exploring the levels and making even more of a mess for ourselves that we then have to spend hours scrutinizing over. However, I certainly can see why some people would find the game to be somewhat bland. If you’re playing by yourself, the game loses a lot of its comedic appeal and can truly seem like a chore. If this is the case for you, I recommend getting a buddy to play with. At least for me, I’ve loved every hour I’ve spent playing this silly game, and I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a humorous, mild way to spend a fraction of the day.

Learn more about Viscera Cleanup Detail by visiting the developer’s website!

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Hey, I’m Paige! I’m an undergraduate student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and I’m majoring in Interactive Media & Game Development. Video games have been my passion ever since my dad bought me Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando for Christmas one year. I love games that have a sense of humor to them, and I really enjoy exploring colorful worlds and experiencing the narration along with the game characters. I'm particularly interested in the concept of serious games at the moment and would love any suggestions!