Rami Ismail, co-founder of Vlambeer—the studio behind , Ridiculous Fishing, and —seems to live his life in transit, squeezing in game development between talks and conferences around the globe. So it makes sense that during the recent in Sweden, a professional hotel-hopper of his caliber would devise something like Breach & Clean—a game about high-speed hotel-room cleaning framed like something out of a James Bond film.
You play a humble cleaner tasked with tidying up hotel rooms while the guests are still in them. Your job is to get in and get out before they start complaining, like some frenetic hybrid of John Wick and Mary Poppins. Armed with your trusty cleaning cart, you go from room to room flushing toilets, replacing dirty towels, and mopping up puddles of some mysterious substance probably best left unknown. Some rooms will be locked, requiring you to blow the door with the titular breaching charge, an act just as goofy and satisfying as it sounds. The clock is always running, and if you spend too long in an occupied room, the guests will lose their patience and it's game over.
For as easy to grasp as the game is, it's surprisingly compelling. Turning a filthy, trash-littered room into a model of cleanliness and hearing the jubilant ditty that accompanies your success filled me with the pride of a job well done. It may not be especially deep, but when you're frantically hurling empty soda cans and soiled towels into your cart's trash bag while a guest hurls gibberish abuse at you, it can get pretty intense.
As the result of a mere week of furious coding, Breach & Clean is a solid foundation begging to be expanded upon. I could see denser rooms with more things to tidy, along with more interesting ways to interact with a mess than simply carrying stuff to and from the cleaning cart. The run-based structure would be well-suited to a progression system too, with higher floors of the hotel offering up sprawling penthouse suites and a greater number of guests to avoid. Think about the upgrades you could unlock: industrial strength vacuum cleaners, cleaning assistants, armies of Roombas.
Despite the simplicity of Breach & Clean's mechanics, the attitude they embody is refreshingly deep. You are a cleaner, your only purpose is to better the lives of hotel guests. Instead of leaving a trail of blood and bodies in your wake, the world is definitively brighter for you having passed through it. That's not something you can say about a lot of games these days.
I've always got a soft spot for games that eschew violence as their primary means of interaction. A game doesn't have to be bloody to be fun, and Breach & Clean reinforces that. It's still fast-paced, it's still frantic, and it's still challenging. Even better, by taking something as mundane as cleaning and injecting a hearty dose of action, Breach & Clean highlights the excitement that lurks within our day-to-day lives. It's like the imaginary scenarios you invented as a kid to spice up your chores, shooting garbage into the trash can like an eco-conscious Michael Jordan, or drawing crop circles in your front yard with the lawn mower.
The fact that Ismail was able to take something as humdrum as mopping floors and turn it into a fast and furious game of tactical hygiene is wonderful. Such bizarre ideas defy convention and capture the true meaning of fantasy. Sure, sometimes I want to be the mighty hero saving the world, but I also want to be the bored hotel cleaner who decided to spice up their job with breaching charges and a scoring system.
So next time I have to roll up my sleeves and pull out the mop and bucket, it won't be so bad. I'll just set up a stopwatch, put on some rockin' music, and see if I can't set a new Personal Best. I'm sure my cats won't mind at all.