Ever idly wondered about cleaning up evidence at a murder scene? My imagination spurred on by TV shows and films, I know I have. I always ask myself, would I do a good job? Would I miss anything? How low would I go in order to make a quick buck? Well, my curiosity was somewhat satiated with Body of Evidence, a murder clean up sim where you are the hero of the hour.
I would say it’s a strange concept for a game, but given the last year or so, nothing surprises me anymore. Your character, Mark, is collecting tickets on a train one day when all of a sudden, he wakes up in an apartment covered in blood with a dead body stuffed in the bathtub. You don’t get long before the cops arrive so it’s down to you to hide the evidence and get rid of the body. From then on, Mark becomes a ‘clean up man’ for hire and it’s up to you to save the day.
Each level has set objectives you need to complete in order to proceed, mainly involving getting rid of bodies and picking up the murder weapons. You get a score at the end of each level for picking up evidence and how much of the mess you manage to clean up. In early levels this is pretty simple. You find a simple scrubbing brush which gets rid of the blood and then it’s just a case of grabbing the body and dragging it to the green square. Then, if anything like tables and chairs have been knocked over, you simply have to click on them to put them back in place like nothing has happened.
As levels proceed, new mechanics are introduced, adding new tools to help you with the job. A broom for sweeping glass, luminol for finding faded blood, and a flashlight for seeing in the dark. Even the disposing of bodies can get slightly creative with one level seeing you stuff a body into a barrel before pouring acid on top to melt it away.
Some levels are loaded with pop culture references like one situation that sees you go to a ‘Soap Club,’ where illegal underground fighting has got a man killed. There’s even a man called Tyler who appears behind you at one point and tells you not to talk about Soap Club. The new mechanic here lets you use their brand of soap to give your cleaning power that extra omph to get rid of some of the tougher stains. I’m pretty sure the level where you melt the body in a barrel was a Breaking Bad reference, too.
After you have collected ten bodies, you have to go to The Lake which is apparently the easiest place to dump corpses. This part really kills the pace, as having to go back and forth to the van ten times takes around ten minutes. That’s ten minutes of moving back and forwards, really slowly. It’s not fun.
Speaking of things that aren’t fun, the controls can be quite fiddly. Trying to scrub blood stains often becomes annoying when the cursor isn’t quite in the right position, despite being right over the blood, and thus preventing you from actually cleaning up the blood before the time runs out. Picking up bodies is another problem; the game boasts realistic ragdoll physics which is great, but the body will often get stuck on the smallest of geometry and force you to drop it. Then, if you need to put the body in a barrel or a garbage chute, this is where the real problems occur. I had to retry one level multiple times because there was no way to neatly stuff the body in the barrel in time. I just wouldn’t go in! Eventually, I got lucky, but man, it wasn’t fun.
While the game was in its early stages, I went for 100% perfect ratings, getting a lot of satisfaction from making sure I got every piece of evidence and putting every chair and table straight, but as soon as things got a little complicated, the controls put me off trying. I found myself just wanting to get the levels done to move on, feeling burnt out after the first ten of the game’s thirty levels. It’s annoying, because I love the concept.
The drab looking levels doesn’t help either. I get why it’s styled like this, because trying to find bloodstains in a colourful environment would make playing this with a time limit impossible, but when you are just staring at browns and greys constantly, it does make shorter play sessions more appealing. I found I couldn’t play it for more than an hour at a time without having to come away for extended periods. The bland colours and the janky controls just made me feel a bit odd – and that’s nothing to do with all the murder! After playing with the Switch docked, I found handheld to be the better way to play, even though it looks the same in both modes.
The soundtrack is quite good at setting the tone. It’s nothing too groundbreaking, but it definitely gives that 1930’s jazz murder vibe. Instead of being a hit detective, you’re on the other side of things as a clean up man.