by Joseph Leray
There are plenty of ostensibly funny games -- "Sam & Max" is always good for a chuckle, and "Borderlands 2" does clever, absurdist morbidity as well as anyone -- but nothing makes me laugh as much as "Viscera Cleanup Detail," a new first-person mopping sim from RuneStorm.
Part of the appeal is in the ridiculous premise. A lot humor in games works by taking their weird, melodramatic logic and applying real-world, quotidian consequences to it. If bloodthirsty aliens slaughter everyone on a derelict spaceship, only to be attacked by space marines, for example, there's going to be a mess: someone has to clean that mess up, and that someone is you.
The funniest thing about "Viscera Cleanup Detail," though, is the way our first-person space-janitor doesn't mop as much as furiously stabs. Normal mopping requires a looping figure-eight motion, but our slimy protagonist pokes, prods, and thrusts. "Viscera Cleanup Detail" is mostly about stabbing the goop out of existence with the universe's goofiest mop.
I get the impression that viscera cleanup makes him angry, that's he's sick and tired of wiping up blood and guts for a living. As someone who -- in a previous life -- has mopped up his fair share of Gatorade, mud, vomit, and blood off of gym floors and basketball courts, I feel you, Overworked Space Mop Guy.
"Viscera Cleanup Detail" started as an internal game jam among RuneStorm employees: they had ten days to prototype as much as they wanted, to see if anything interesting came out of it. Well, "Viscera Cleanup Detail" came out of it, and the project has ballooned into a full-fledged, Unreal Engine-powered game.
RuneStorm have put their game up on Steam Greenlight and are currently offering free alpha builds available for download -- the most recent version introduces co-op multiplayer and two new maps. You can pre-order the full version of the game for a modest $5.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter