PowerWash Simulator Review
What makes a good game? Is it knights with giant swords, or robots with death rays? Is it really fast cars? Epic adventures in unknown lands? PowerWash Simulator is the latest game to prove it doesn’t have to be any of those things.
Actually, my first few hours with it were regularly punctuated with the phrase “I’m not even sure I’m enjoying it”. Which, incidentally, is said about as much whenever I have to do a real-life chore. And therein lies the genius of PowerWash Simulator. It is exactly what it says in the title: a digital chore.
Some people go out in their garden to unwind, others like tinkering with their car. After many hours with this game, I can see the appeal of working away your stresses, albeit in the dry and without having to do any actual cleaning. It feels good gradually seeing a filthy park or unloved van return to its best. At the end of each level, you’re rewarded with a time-lapse video of your work. It is immensely satisfying.
But it is still work. And I have to admit, there were multiple times where it felt like a poor use of time. Yes, even more so than ‘regular’ gaming. Naturally, your mileage on this will vary.
Out in the Yard
Armed with your trusty powerwash, you must clean an item or location until it is spotless. That’s it. There are no time limits, no challenges. There’s no fail state. You clean til you’re done, in one session or more. It’s sunny, birds are singing, and you have a job to do.
However, don’t think it’s easy. Completely the opposite. There will be dirt in places that will mystify you. There will be filth in quantities that wouldn’t look out of place at one of Boris Johnson’s parties. And it’s down to you to get rid of it.
You do this with your war chest of washers, extenders and soaps. There are a wide range of tools for the job, although technically you could probably use any of them. Occasionally you’ll get texts from the customer to let you know they appreciate your work, but that’s about as much of a distraction as you’ll get.
If at this point in the review you’re wondering exactly why anybody would be daft enough to play this game, chances are it isn’t for you. I can’t stress enough, this game is exactly what it says it is. It isn’t a meme game, and it isn’t a veiled management sim. You clean stuff in return for money, which you then spend on more cleaning stuff. It’s relentless.
It’s also simple and easy. It demands nothing of you. There are no explosions, no buildings falling down in a hail of bullets. It’s meditative. It’s a bit zen. Some people are using it as activity while listening to podcasts, but even that is more involved than you need it to be. Simply switching off your brain and completing a task with no stakes is surprisingly freeing.
Alas, this isn’t always treated in the best way. There are some levels that can take hours to complete, and the minor achievements of clearing sections give way to seemingly endless monotony.It is a tightrope walk, and usually Futurlab walk confidently right down the middle. But occasionally they fall.
This is largely what leads to those moments where you realise you’re cleaning something digitally when you probably could be cleaning something in real life. Why spend three hours cleaning a park when there are things in your own house you have probably been putting off? But it’s easier to sit and not really do something. It’s a more blatant escapism than other games, where you can say you’re enjoying the story or whatever. It isn’t a fault with PowerWash Simulator. Not at all. But it does make you question what you’re doing in a slightly more opaque way.
There are nearly 40 levels in total, so if it clicks with you you’ll have plenty of content to get through. And then you’re also able to play it with a friend, which will make it feel completely different again.
Graphics and Sound
Given the nature of the game, you probably shouldn’t be expecting top-of-the-range graphics. So you’ll probably be surprised by how nice PowerWash Simulator looks. It helps that everything is bright and colourful. The design goes a long way.
There are ways to improve for a sequel. It’s a little annoying seeing the water just disappear, and to see mud and dirt disappear along with it. This is a minor problem though.
Sound is great. The atmosphere is positive and relaxing, and sound effects are immersive. You may find them a little mismixed at first in terms of volume, but options are available to change them to your liking.
PowerWash Simulator Review – Conclusion
PowerWash Simulator is an interesting game, and very well made. It is for a niche audience, and I hope games for smaller crowds become more popular. That’s more viable now, thanks to early access programs and the likes of Game Pass, which this game is part of.
Sometimes it pushes your patience a little bit too far, and I still haven’t answered the question as to whether its better to play this or be productive. I haven’t answered whether I actually enjoy it or not either, which is a very odd feeling considering how good a score I have given it.
But that’s the joy of PowerWash Simulator. You don’t have to enjoy it. You just get it or you don’t. I think I do. And according to the player count, I’m not the only one.