PowerWash Simulator is the relaxing escape you never knew you needed

Power washing is to cleaning what barbecue is to cooking; it’s an activity that just oozes testosterone. I could probably wax lyrical about the Freudian and primal psychological associations of firing a powerful jet of liquid to cleanse your territory, but to be honest the whole thing would make me feel a bit queasy. Regardless of this overthinking, the act of power washing is always supremely satisfying as you remove the layers of dirt and detritus in order to reveal the pristine surface beneath.

I’ll be honest, when I booted up the new Early Access release of PowerWash Simulator, the latest game from FuturLab, I was expecting a comedic “simulator” with short term appeal that mostly aimed for memes and the streaming demographic. What I got, however, was much closer to a meditative experience. This is a relaxing game that feels like the reverse of the adult colouring books and apps that were all the rage a few years ago. The combination of attending to the details of each clean and earning the money to upgrade your equipment has a classic gaming loop that just adds to the surprisingly satisfying experience.

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While not the most stunning game graphically, Power Washer Simulator’s looks are perfectly suited to the game. Environments and objects are detailed enough and there is a satisfying layering effect for the dirt and grime as it washes away. It would have been nice to see more particle effects with the dirt pooling and washing down the surfaces, but that isn’t exactly vital to the enjoyment of the experience. Environments alternate between external tasks like cleaning houses and gardens, to washing off vehicles in your garage. FuturLab has ensure that both have other objects to mess around with you steady stream, from garden gnomes to footballs.

As well as individual tasks cleaning objectives, the Early Access build has a compelling career mode that sees you work your way up from small commissions to larger and more involved ones. The first task sees you cleaning off your van before going out to make your name as the premium power washer in the area – who’s going to hire a cleaning crew with a dirty van?

Whether you’re washing vehicles, environments, or buildings, each target is made up of a network of individual elements that you can clean one by one. This is a great design choice as it prevents any potential frustration of not knowing what still needs to be cleaned. You can also bring up a tablet style breakdown that clearly indicates what still needs to be washed and pressing ‘tab’ on the keyboard also highlights specific areas in view that still need cleaning. The dirt itself has various levels from simple surface grime to deep-seated moss and rust which require a more direct approach.

In order to approach these different targets you can unlock and buy a series of nozzles and cleaning solutions, not to mention more powerful washers as you work through the career. One of the most useful – but costly – of these is to buy specific soaps to work away at the worst parts. These can be refilled in a level, but cost hard earned cash, so they need to be used wisely. The resultant strategy aspect provides another layer of gameplay as you balance your resources with the task in front of you. New jobs are unlocked as you go but the real money is made through the bonuses you get for completely finishing a stage.

With its combination of relaxing gameplay and satisfying upgrades Power Washer Simulator is shaping up to be a real surprise, and it’s great to see how FuturLab has grown the game out from the early demo they released last year. Successfully taking the familiar FPS perspective and marrying it to a novel and original gaming mechanic, this is an experience that offers a relaxing palette cleanser your gaming time needs.

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Written by
Just your average old gamer with a doctorate in Renaissance literature. I can mostly be found playing RPGs, horror games, and oodles of indie titles. Just don't ask me to play a driving game.