PowerWash Simulator Review: It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it!
I’ve put roughly 80 hours into PowerWash Simulator, so I feel like I should just go ahead and that out of the way.
I say this because that’s the kind of thing that should speak for itself. Like you know how you see negative Steam reviews saying the game sucks but they poured hundreds of hours into it to come to that conclusion? I don’t care what a person pays for it, the fact that they spent triple digit hours on it means they got their money’s worth.
So no matter what constructive criticism I may have, it took 80 hours to get there. Just so we’re all on the same page here.
PowerWash Simulator has come a long way since it first released into Steam Early Access last year. Each subsequent update saw fresh levels, new equipment, and even a multiplayer mode so you can clean with up to five of your friends. If you, like me, are the kind of person that tends to shy away from plunking down all your pretty pennies on Early Access games for fear they take a weird turn somewhere (or, heaven forbid, take no turns whatsoever and stay in dev hell), I’m happy to report that PowerWash Simulator has not only met most expectations but surpassed them entirely (seriously, a multiplayer mode??), so… get to plunking, I guess? But if you’re the kind of person that doesn’t even know why you’d want a powerwashing game in the first place… read on.
You could describe PowerWash Simulator as a game that simulates powerwashing, but you’d be a dang fool if you did that because you’d be omitting so much of what makes PowerWash Simulator so great. Set in the dirty, dirty town of Muckingham, PowerWash Simulator places players in the role of a fledgling powerwasher, suited up and ready to get-a-sprayin’ at every speck of grime they see. Which, considering the city is situated next to an actively erupting volcano, is a lot. Like honestly, they should probably wait for the volcano to finish erupting before they call in the cleaners, but what do I know.
At first, the levels are pretty simple and on the shorter side, such as a new van, someone’s backyard, a playground, and others. Eventually, you’ll find yourself working all the way up to much bigger levels, like an entire church, a sprawling skatepark, and a shoe house in the middle of the woods. Despite their variety, every last one of these levels has one thing in common, and that’s the fact that literally every square inch along every single axis is covered in a thick layer of grime, and it’s up to you to make Muckingham less muck and more… ingham.
Now, plenty of players may take one look at something like PowerWash Simulator and think that escaping from real world problems like cleaning in the form of a video game about cleaning seems a bit ridiculous. And on paper, that makes a little bit of sense; in practice, however, it perfectly employs something called “flow state” which is exactly what it sounds like — once you get in the flow, time seems to fade into the background, and the only thing that remains is pure, clean fun. I can’t tell you how many times I started a level and just groaned because it was so overwhelming as a whole, but since the entire job was broken down in to small tasks, it was a lot easier to psychologically manage something huge (except that treehouse level, OMFG). There were plenty of days I’d tell myself “just one level” only to look at the clock and see that I hadn’t moved in six hours. You ever want to speed up time? Play PowerWash Simulator.
Even though I spent 80 hours powerwashing the days away and enjoyed every second of it, I do have two complaints (both minor). For one, I know challenge mode shouldn’t be super easy, but the cleaning liquids should be freely available on freeplay and I will die on that hill. Like yeah, sure, gate the cleaning liquid behind a storefront in the challenge mode so I can’t breeze through the entire campaign, but on freeplay? I should be able to keep that cleaner on tap like it’s water… but not like in the context of a powerwasher, but like in a restaurant, so… better? Pretend that analogy made sense. Basically, let me play freeplay how I want to, damnit!
Second, I wish the lore concluded in a way that made more sense. Or, rather, I wish it was better sprinkled throughout the entirety of the game and not explosively dropped on you within the last 4 levels. The lore is drip fed to players through fake text messages from clients talking about missing cats, the aforementioned active volcano, and celebrities departed from this mortal coil or otherwise, and if you play PowerWash Simulator in one stretch you might be able to retain all that text. If, however, you powerwash for a few hours before getting back to reality, it’s going to be really hard to remember how all the pieces play into each other, especially in those last few levels. Good thing none of it truly matters and the core concept is insanely entertaining!
The 80 hours I spent with PowerWash Simulator were gloriously relaxing; I powered through my favorite podcasts on one screen as I powerwashed the days away on another. It’s an easy way to just unplug from life’s stresses and… you know, powerwash those worries away (along with all that muck and grime, of course). Any perceived issues are extremely minor considering how much bang you get for your buck, and that goes doubly so if you’re an achievement hunter. Make no mistake — PowerWash Simulator deserves the Overwhelmingly Positive rating it’s received on Steam, and if you’re looking for the best way to chill after a long day of work, Muckingham is a dirty stone’s throw away.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: XBox One, XBox Series X|S, PC (Reviewed); Publisher: Square Enix; Developer: Futurlab; Players: 1 – 6; Released: July 14, 2022; MSRP: $24.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of PowerWash Simulator provided by the developer.