The industry has evolved to the point where niche games find their audiences instantly, often becoming runaway successes. For this, we can thank a combination of easy-to-use game engines, smaller development teams, digital distribution, and the desire to create the next surprise hit.
PowerWash Simulator’s existence goes even further beyond this, owning its creation to the success of similar zen-like experiences such as House Flipper and Unpacking, while also tapping into the popularity of ASMR YouTube videos. So, if you’re wondering why on earth something called ‘PowerWash Simulator’ exists, there’s your answer.
Your voyage into professional pressure washing begins with a basic power washer and the ideal opportunity to try it out – cleaning a grubby second-hand van that’s set to become your company vehicle. As your reputation starts to grow within the community, jobs start to flood in. Cleaning something small such as a dirt bike takes less than five minutes, while larger jobs – including washing a filth-encrusted children’s playground, and somebody’s unkept garden – can take in the vicinity of an hour.
It’s a concept that ties in well with video gaming fundamentals. The all-important sense of progression is there, with better equipment soon unlocking and your reputation constantly growing. During a job a competition percentage is always on-screen too, helping to spur you on. Completing a task, especially some of the more long-winded examples, is satisfying too, rewarding with a lump sum of cash to spend on new nozzles, outfits, and cleaning solutions.
Some well-observed effects help provide an initial draw. Water leaves residue which takes a few seconds to dry out, while using the hose at point blank causes water to rebound. Powerful jets shift dirt instantly – essential for removing yellow moss and bird poo – while weaker jets can clean wider surfaces but aren’t as thorough. All this is backed by realistic sound effects, with different sounds for each surface type.
The locations are appealing, mostly, including the aforementioned children’s park – featuring a colourful dinosaur slide – a mini-golf range, a large fountain decorated with gnomes, and a fun fair with various rides. A handful of special missions are available outside of the campaign mode, including the chance to clean the Mars rover – featuring warped gravity. Indeed, there is a slight silly streak, extending to some daft achievements to unlock. Outside of the campaign mode and these one-off special stages, some quick-fire time trial missions additionally feature.
There is something to address, though, and perhaps you’ve already guessed it – pressure washing isn’t exactly the most thrilling of pursuits. Some of the larger locations are daunting – especially knowing that they’ll take over an hour to complete – and fatigue can settle quite quickly when performing the same task constantly, such as walking back and forth to clean a floor. It is at least possible for both friends and strangers to jump in and lead a hand online, easing the load.
PowerWash Simulator is a niche title, perhaps even more so than Unpacking or House Flipper. It’s satisfying in small doses, while also showcasing some thoughtful design choices that help elevate it beyond other simulators. Not a game for all and sundry, but that’s exactly why it exists – it’s for the select few who simply want to switch their brain off for a couple of hours, chilling out with friends in the most relaxing way possible.
FuturLab’s PowerWash Simulator is out now on PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series. Published by Squeaky Kleenex. Sorry – Square-Enix.