Power Wash Simulator Review: I Don’t Know Why I Love This Game So Much

Cleaning things is weirdly relaxing. Clean surroundings equal a clean mind and all that, giving us room to think without worrying about the lingering anxiety of having to tidy up after ourselves when life gets a bit too much. Games that depict this very real part of life aren’t uncommon, acting as an offshoot of traditional simulator games where we’re normally driving trucks, managing farms, and overseeing successful football teams.

Except now, we’re flipping homes and pressure washing filthy gardens in exchange for profit. I’m serious – this is some History Channel hoarding documentary shit with how disgusting some of these places are. Entire patios are covered in thick layers of grime, while sheds and lawnmowers have been untouched for what seems like literal decades to end up in such a state. This didn’t deter me, though. I shook my head, picked up my power washer, and got to work. What follows is an obscenely satisfying game that I still can’t quite explain.

Rather fittingly, Power Wash Simulator takes place in the town of Muckingham as you set up a humble power washing business to clean the place up and earn some pennies. You begin in a small garage, tasked with jazzing up your new van as you learn the ins and outs of using a power washer. Your new business decals are already plastered on the vehicle, so I’m guessing it got dirty on the way home from the garage or something. Nothing in this game makes sense, so just roll with it.

You’re in possession of a power washer with several nozzles, each of which covers a different angle of space while sporting varying levels of pressure for each job. You might want to run over a filthy pathway with a wider nozzle before changing to a thinner one to deal with lingering pieces of dirt. Some spots are also hard to reach, forcing you to crouch down or even go prone in order to seek out tiny specks of dirt holding the level back from full completion. This sounds like busywork, and kinda is, but there’s something strangely satisfying about the moment-to-moment gameplay here that kept me entranced.

It’s almost therapeutic, providing the player with an eventual goal that is always providing visual proof of us moving forward and making the world a cleaner place. The second level takes place in a rather massive garden that is utterly caked in a disgusting black coat of unknown origin. I started with a quartet of chairs surrounding a garden table and parasol, cleaning those bad boys before moving onto the patio and ponds, watching them return to their former glory in response to my attentive cleaning prowess.

Every few minutes I’d return to a vantage point to admire my work thus far, noting what was left to do and how exactly I’d go about it. Smaller items and pieces of furniture were left until last, because I knew they’d be more finicky than massive stretches of land and conventional fences. I built a strategy in my head without even knowing it, even doing that gamer thing, when you lean forward during a tense boss fight, but instead, I was trying desperately to find the last bit of grime on a stationery lawnmower.

Once the first few jobs are done, you’ll gain more freedom to choose which tasks you want to take on, all while building enough capital to start upgrading your arsenal and purchasing new tools, soaps, and other things that will make harder levels much easier to tackle. Humble beginnings soon progress into levels that involve cleaning entire theme park rides, sprawling mansions, aircraft, and places that are definitely haunted. There’s a nice level of variety to Power Wash Simulator, which does a great job in alleviating moment-to-moment action that would otherwise grow very repetitive. But it doesn’t, or I was so drawn in that I didn’t care an entire hour had passed in the real world as I sought to bring this virtual garden back to life for a client that doesn’t even exist. He appreciates me though, I just know it.

While it eventually grows more complicated with the addition of new nozzles, attachments and upgrades, Power Wash Simulator never loses the zen feeling of restoring filthy places back to life, piece by piece, until you’re left standing in front of a park, plane, house, or theme park ride that now feels entirely new. You can bring a friend along for the ride in co-op play, taking on bigger jobs together as you split responsibilities or tackle more obnoxious challenges together, so hours aren’t spent trying to wipe away single pieces of dirt. Power Wash Simulator has earned a cult following in the world of streaming thanks to its casual pacing, allowing content creators to speak with their audiences while working away on levels at whatever pace they fancy. Now I finally see what all the fuss is about, it really is that damn relaxing.

The same applies to co-op play, with the game offering a cadence that makes it ideal for catching up with a friend or loved one. Simulators are often seen as demanding, or sporting controller schemes that make them impossible for casual audiences to penetrate, but this is a game that subverts that reputation. Power Wash Simulator is all about pointing at a dirty thing and spraying until it comes out clean. You’ll need to change nozzles on the regular and brush over environments with an almost rhythmic sense of precision, but once you’ve got the hang of everything it’s a breeze. Hours are lost without you even noticing, and it’s rare for a game to command that kind of attention from me these days.

Fancier levels away from the main campaign like cleaning a rover on Mars are cool set pieces with limited novelty, but I preferred cleaning more realistic environments because it didn’t pull me out of the experience, or force me to confront the fact I was playing a simulator that never once tries to take itself too seriously. Yet these bonuses are still welcome, even if they’re something I completed once and left alone because they weren’t for me.

I played the Xbox Series X version primarily while dabbling in the PC release, both of which are excellent ways to play. I normally fear simulators coming to consoles because initially complicated control schemes must be translated to a gamepad, often with mixed results. But here, the initial situation was so simplistic anyway that adapting all of that to a controller is seamless. The analog stick points and the triggers spray, with the shoulder buttons acting as a way to quickly switch nozzles and attachments. I will admit the menus are definitely designed with a mouse in mind, so navigating several tabs can be a nuisance at first, but it’s something you’ll quickly grow used to.

Power Wash Simulator is a darling escape into a profession I never knew I had any passion for. I’m not saying I’m about to quit writing and start going to town on my nan’s filthy patio, but there’s something about living a distant occupation through the medium of video games that pulls you in and refuses to let go. Life is stressful right now, so having a place to set my worries aside and clean up virtual arenas while also giving my own mind a good cleanse is more than welcome, and FuturLab has more than delivered on that grounded fantasy here.

A review code was provided for the purposes of this review.

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