PowerWash Simulator Review – Clean Me, Scotty!

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The wonderful and weird world of simulation games has another one to call with PowerWash Simulator, a game that tasks you, the player, with blasting grime away from homes, vehicles, and even the Mars Curiosity Rover. Yeah, deep space cleaning is now a quiet hobby, but is it really that quiet?

For many of us, cleaning is a chore; a task that needs to be done to keep up with the societal expectation that carpets should be visible at all times and that the original paint job is better than nature’s mud. Unless you’re a cleaning enthusiast, pulling out the marigold mitts, a bowl of hot soapy water, and a big sponge isn’t the best way to spend a weekend. Well add some Daisy Duke hot pants and my criminally dirty car and you have a decent afternoon but what I mean is out of all the possible simulators that could be made cleaning is surely not not the favorite fantasy?

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Our rating: 6/10 – Good
Good: Strangely engaging gameplay. It doesn’t hurt that the game looks pretty decent too.
The bad: Work without music? What is 1922? In addition, repetition sets in very quickly.
Release date: July 14, 2022
Developped by: FutureLab
Available on: PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
Revised on: Xbox series X

To be fair, I can see the appeal behind PowerWash Simulator. Seeing something dirty clean itself is satisfying, the same way I like to rub my thumbs over my phone screen to create patterns with the accumulated grease. Or color a page from a notebook one square at a time. Or running my fingers through the condensation on the shower door as I contemplate life and the meaning of existence for 45 minutes each morning. Basically, we humans – most of us, anyway – love the satisfaction that comes with orderly, structured cleaning, and PowerWash Simulator taps into that satisfaction by giving you dirty things to clean with a progression system that activates the reward parts of your gray matter. It’s simple, but don’t go into this one thinking it’s going to be easy. It’s hard work, actually.

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No, really, it’s hard work. Maybe not in the physical sense that you’ll get a builder’s backache, but you’ll definitely grow weary of the repetition. For me, this happened on my second (or third?) job in the game’s Career mode. After an introduction to the game’s cleaning mechanics that allowed me to spruce up the company van, I was tasked with cleaning up a grime-covered playground. After an hour of constant watering, I was barely done with the soil. I still had the climbing frames, towers, slides and other play equipment to clean. All told, this particular job took over three hours of “play” time, and that was split into shifts between me and my servant, six-year-old Charlie, who won’t lift a finger to put away his bedroom, but it will take the finger cramps to get a feat on a cleaning game. Rider.

Fortunately, on Xbox Series X | S, you can switch between games very quickly, so when I found myself getting tired of blasting dirt from children’s playgrounds, haunted houses, etc., I moved on to something a little more taxing. And yet, within an hour, I found myself back “on shift” trying to clean up the last percentage points of dirt. It’s strangely rewarding, relaxing and satisfying, even if it numbs the brain to sleep; Honestly, I fell asleep for a few late night sessions. An unlikely sleep aid, perhaps?

PowerWash Simulator is divided into two different modes. You have Career mode where you will be assigned to tasks where you can earn money, buy new equipment and follow silly stories in the world. Nothing major, mind you, and you won’t actually meet another character, but you’ll get humorous messages on your tablet, like the ones I got while cleaning out Martha Hubbard’s shoe store. She’s a weird woman, that’s for sure. Why would you tell your cleaner you have to poop? Was she preparing me for the cleaning job? I don’t think my pressure washer has a proper nozzle.

Then there are the Special Tasks where you’ll have the chance to clean up (yay!) the Mars Curiosity Rover and even roam the surface of the Red Planet. And then there’s Challenge Mode and Free Play Mode, which are self-explanatory but didn’t appeal to me at all. I wanted to go all out to craft these parts, so I stayed in career mode and worked my way up, one splatter of dirt at a time with very little to show for it other than some new cleaning gear. I should mention that there is the option to play co-op online, although I’ve never tried that, but more because of my own social anxiety than anything else. What kind of conversation would I have with a stranger online while we pretend to pretend? Will we have coffee breaks? Would we meet on Skype after “work” for a few beers? Discussing our war stories of the dirtiest things we’ve cleaned? Better to ride solo, I think.

I have a conflict with PowerWash Simulator. On the one hand, it’s absolute boredom and drudgery with one-dimensional gameplay – can I even call that gameplay? – but on the other hand, it’s still weirdly fun and more fun, and seeing the gunk seep out and the percentage done meter slowly increase was enough to keep me wasting water for hours. It’s a quirk, sure, but I can’t seem to tear myself away from it, and the more I play it, the more I wonder if the world wouldn’t be a cleaner place if we all could get the job done with one gamepad. Come on, billionaires. Make it happen.

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