Name virtually any occupation or hobby, and chances are good that some simulator already exists that gamifies the experience. Like most other titles in this genre, PowerWash Simulator states precisely what it does in the title. Players are handed a power washer and set loose in the town of Muckingham to clean up the place and make some money. The primary objective is to clear dirt off objects or buildings, and each successful job unlocks a new location or vehicle desperately needing cleaning. While the idea is as simple as they come, it is a strangely relaxing experience that keeps players hooked longer than the average simulator.
When starting up PowerWash Simulator, players can choose to jump into the Career Mode, try out the Challenge Mode, take on the unique cleaning opportunities in Specials, or revisit their favorite jobs in Free Play. In Career Mode, players start with the most basic power washer and nozzle, which can be upgraded with new extensions and nozzles using the money earned from successful jobs. While the initial power washer is a small home unit, players gain access to increasingly more powerful versions to tackle the larger areas and vehicles in later levels.
PowerWash Simulator eases players into the life of a cleaning expert with manageable jobs, such as a back garden and bungalow, as well as vehicles like a van and dirt bike. Soon, though, the size and scope of jobs increase dramatically, and players are let loose on Skateparks, tree houses, subway platforms, monster trucks, and recreation vehicles. Some of these jobs are pretty daunting and would have been overwhelming if the game hadn’t broken everything into manageable chunks. Players have access to a checklist of every item on the level that needs cleaning and a cleanliness percentage for each. So, while cleaning an entire subway platform is intimidating, players can instead focus on cleaning each light, bench, sign, etc. Later levels can take over an hour each to complete, but the game is relaxing enough that time flies by in the blink of an eye.
Since the game is played entirely in first person, players can see the fruit of their labors up close and personal. Each level is covered in dirt and grime, which might have something to do with the active volcano on the town’s doorstep.
While it is pretty satisfying to see the dirt peeling away under the onslaught of your power washer, the game is not a realistic simulator, so don’t expect any real-world physics. Instead, water shoots out pretty much in a straight line, and whatever dirt it comes into contact with vanishes. The levels are all big and colorful, but this also means that spotting dirt can sometimes be tricky. Thankfully, the developers knew this would be an issue and added some workarounds. The checklist mentioned earlier allows players to click on an item, which is then highlighted in the game world. Players can also press “TAB” at any time for an overlay highlighting all the dirt left on the level. Both are very useful, but the latter is tricky to use at times, as certain colors and lighting effects can still make it hard to see the dirt spots.
The only tool players have at their disposal is a power washer, meaning the gameplay can become repetitive if the game is played in long bursts. The task for each level remains the same throughout the game, with players methodically spraying a stream of water at dirty objects until they are clean. Players can spend their hard-earned money on new power washers, attachments that increase the water stream’s distance, and nozzles to make things more interesting. The nozzles range from zero degrees for a concentrated stream of water to 15, 25, and 40-degree nozzles. This means players can choose between covering a larger area at once with wider angles or focusing on stubborn spots with narrower ones. In Career Mode, there’s no way to really fail, which means all that is needed to complete the game is patience and perseverance. Some levels try to spice things up with unique challenges, such as having to clean a mansion without setting foot on the property, but for the most part, it’s all about pointing and spraying.
PowerWash Simulator features traditional first-person controls, and moving around to find the best angles to blast the dirt is never a problem. Players can crouch down to reach dirt in lower spots or use ladders and scaffolding for roofs and other higher areas. In addition to swapping around nozzles and extensions, players can also rotate the nozzles horizontally or vertically as needed. The game even features a soap nozzle that can be filled with cleaning liquids for wood, metal, glass, stone, etc. However, these soaps are sold individually and in limited quantities, so players must use them sparingly. Jumping around to reach some spots can be awkward, but it’s nothing that can’t be solved by using a more powerful extension.
The developers of PowerWash simulator knew that most players would probably be playing the game in a zen-like state of relaxation, so they didn’t include a musical soundtrack. Instead, the game is filled with ambient noises and the soothing sounds of your power washer. This also makes the game ideal for playing while listening to a podcast or watching something on a second screen. The game has no speech, but the “ding” sound that plays whenever something is cleaned is immensely satisfying. The Career Mode has somewhat of a narrative involving missing cats and ancient civilizations. However, this is all conveyed via text messages that can be ignored if players want to focus purely on cleaning.
The Career Mode will take up most of the time players spend in PowerWash Simulator and can even be tackled with a friend in co-op. The latter can make some of the larger levels less daunting, and any job players complete can also be played with up to five other players in free-play. In addition, the game has a “Specials” mode where locations or vehicles that don’t tie into the story, such as the Mars Rover, a Gnome Fountain, and Steam Locomotive, can be cleaned. The Challenge Mode features all the levels from Career Mode, but players must complete each under a specific time or with limited water. This adds extra pressure to the game that is absent in the Career Mode. Finally, Free Play allows players to replay the Career Mode levels, which is handy for achievement hunters.
Overall, PowerWash Simulator doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking, but it is surprisingly addictive, and players who get hooked will quickly find the hours flying by. Of course, the game is quite repetitive by nature, and finding the lost few traces of dirt on a large level can sometimes be somewhat frustrating. However, these are minor complaints that didn’t prevent us from completing every level and getting almost all of the achievements. While PowerWash Simulator falls somewhat short on the “simulator” level, it does have a lot of fun and variety, making it perfect for anyone who wants a casual and relaxing game.
- Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
- OS: Windows 8 (64-bit) or newer
- Processor: Intel i5-760 (4*2800), AMD Phenom II
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: GeForce GTX 760, AMD R7-260X
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 6 GB available space
- Additional Notes: Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
- Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system