Review: PowerWash Simulator (Early Access)

Ever gone to clean your patio, and revelled in the euphoria that comes with completely stripping back what you thought was the colour, to reveal an all-new, and original colour underneath? Such is the joy of power washing, recreated for your ongoing enjoyment in the Early Access release of PowerWash Simulator. And yes, if you want, you can draw a penis in the dirt.

PowerWash Simulator puts you in control of your own company, and you are tasked with cleaning increasingly complex items with increasingly more stubborn dirt stains. Typically, everything is covered head to toe in much, and you need to get rid.

Your first objective is a van – your van. How can you really expect to drum up business if your van is a total mess? Played in first-person, hovering over the van identifies individual parts and a bar shows the progress towards cleaning that part. You can also toggle on an option for the type of material you’re cleaning, and what the dirt is (mud, rust etc).

To begin with, you have a basic power washer and a series of nozzles. As you progress, you earn money which can be used to buy more powerful washers, as well as additional nozzles and sprays (the metal cleaner is particularly good). Nozzle choice is key – do you go for a wider range which is less powerful, or a more direct nozzle which has a smaller spread. You may need additional passovers too, depending on how stubborn the dirt is, which requires some consideration on the most effective method – this is more consideration however on the challenge modes, with a time target or a limited supply of water.

The ‘main’ mode at the moment is just clean for money. Doing so awards you five stars and the option to move on, but at the moment you can only get five stars for full completion, so it will be interesting to see how this evolves as the game continues to develop. 

Sometimes you’ll get to points that are hard to reach. You have some equipment based on the level, such as a step, a ladder, and scaffolding. You can move this about at will (although the ladder can only go in set places). I generally found I managed to parkour myself around the levels to get to the places I need to be – it’s quite forgiving and there is no fall damage – using only these things to make the jumps a bit easier. There’s no health and safety penalty here.

Nozzle rotation is also useful, and your mileage may vary depending on your control method. Controller support is offered, but is fairly rudimentary with only a sensitivity option really to help customise (annoyingly, my settings reset every time I booted the game) – and controller support was only usable on the highest sensitivity. Using a mouse is definitely easier, but if you struggle with keys to move as I do, it’s a viable option.

In fact, I played most of my 27 hours finishing the game with a controller. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Each level is presented with a ‘How am I going to do this?’ thought, quickly followed by ‘Seriously, how did it get THIS dirty?’. The game capitalises on these ‘job’ sim endorphins though by releasing a great sense of achievement and joy as you work through what is essentially a puzzle, to try and make everything shiny. The effects are decent too, as the sun glares off your freshly cleaned metal items, and things happen in the background too in the distance, not really important but adding to the world. 

Helping you out is the ability to push a key to highlight the dirt left to clean (and an auto-save function that lets you come back to where you left off easily enough). It can be fiddly, in bright light to see it all exactly, but it’s not meant to be an easy job – that’s why you call the pros! There’s also the option of co-op, with career mode supporting 2 players, and a free-play mode supporting 6! I imagine a 6 person team working through cleaning a house is pretty epic, and a great social game; blasting each other with your power washers isn’t something I can see getting boring too quickly. 

I’m really excited to see how PowerWash Simulator develops. At the moment, it’s the perfect chill-out game, which is addictive and fun to play. Sure, I could go out and powerwash my driveway in real life, but where’s the fun in that?

Reviewed on PC

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