PowerWash Simulator Review – Wax On Great Gameplay, Wax Off Stress

PowerWash Simulator Review

Developed byFuturLab, PowerWash Simulator uses the “simulator” title loosely. With no time limits, no resource management, or worrying about water supply, the game is designed to be a cathartic release. Players pick the level they wish to clean and simply go ahead cleaning it. It can be a fantastically zen-like experience watching the dirt, dust, and grime wash away. There are, however, a few minor grievances that can break the hypnotic spell of an otherwise deliciously satisfying game.

PowerWash Simulator does, in fact, have a story. You’ll start out cleaning up an old van to begin your power washing business. As you complete jobs, citizens around town will text you asking for your help with their latest messy problem. It’s great, but its also delivered in such a way it’s easy to overlook entirely. Texts pop up from folks looking for help at the side of the screen. They mention their job briefly, the message disappears, and you go back to cleaning. At the end of your current job, you’ll see which tasks are available and pick one. It’s so simple you forget there was an entire plot as to why you are doing this job.

There is no voice acting, no cut scenes, and nothing to draw your attention to the story and make you listen. You might come to PowerWash Simulator for the express purpose of not having a story, but it seems strange to make it so easy to miss. The core gameplay is where it shines. The details and vivid colors that lurk beneath all that muck really pop. The water blasting out of the nozzle looks great, and the effects of cleaning the multitude of surfaces are far too satisfying to watch. Each part of a stage is broken down into segments (gutters, posts, paths, etc) and completing one segment delivers a satisfying ding of a job well done. Some stages take multiple hours to complete, and yet I still found myself with “just one more stage” more times than I care to admit.

PowerWash Simulator Makes Cleaning Fun and Carefree

The powerwasher itself has multiple attachments for different stream widths and pressures. In the early stages, you’ll experiment with what you like, but the more you progress you’ll discover which is best for what sticky situation lay ahead. While I did oddly find one to be my favorite, I enjoyed the slight level of strategy in swapping between nozzles for different tasks and wand lengths for distances. It adds just enough variable gameplay to keep you thinking without having to stress. You’ll even earn money to buy new, more powerful power washers, attachments, clothing, and soaps.

Soap is great for softening up a large area of a particularly tricky job. I initially tested it out on a simple surface, but after dealing with a few vehicles I quickly realized the best place for suds is the cars for those minute – and infuriating – details. When cleaning large areas like a path or the side of a house, PowerWash Simulator will automatically complete the task after a certain percentage has been cleaned. It may be a high percentage, but it clears away the last little bits of gunk for you, and is a helpful inclusion to keep the player moving to the next segment. Baffling, then, that the same doesn’t seem to be applied to some of the tricker, smaller tasks.

PowerWash Simulator

Some stages have included the need to clean in between individual couch cushions or the planks of a walkway. Vehicles in particular, which are smaller jobs for less reward, felt the most tedious. You have to try desperately to squint and find the spec of dirt you missed which might be all you need to finally finish it. It was cool to include vehicles, but they were my least favorite jobs when compared to homes. Stage design for the larger levels is fantastic. Learning to use the ladder to get to higher elevations, cleaning out windows and gutters, the homes were my absolute favorite stages to clean. The backyard in the early missions in particular was great. It offered a variety of surfaces, shapes, sizes, and overall a well-rounded experience.

PowerWash Simulator has a button to highlight missed areas which can be a seriously helpful tool. However, trying to find missed spots in narrow crevices makes powerwashing, well, a chore. Missed areas are highlighted temporarily in yellow, a nice bright color to spot. Unfortunately, most of the stages are brightly lit during the day making them particularly difficult to see. An option to change the color in which it highlights would be great.

Dirt Highlighter Needs a Color Change Option

It wasn’t until I hit the largest stage I had encountered – the Skate Park – that I noticed PowerWash Simulator’s lack of music. The silence does help keep players relaxed and focused on the task. Why did I notice this during the Skate Park stage? Because I spent a few hours in an open area with mostly flat surfaces and nothing to stimulate me. This game could benefit from the option of simple soft background music, or even a radio station with different options to keep the player invested. I would love to listen to a nice chipper tune while doing my job and cleaning up the neighbor’s house.

Outside of the Career mode are a few bonus stages. The creative team at FuturLab definitely had a lot of fun dreaming up these more “out there” stages. It makes me hopeful that we can see more unique cleaning jobs added in the future as the game grows. I also feel like there is a lot of potential for multiplayer game modes beyond the standard cleaning party. What about a game of keep away with a gnome statue? Or letting a player hide a graffiti design beneath some dirt and the other players need to find it? I hope we get to see PowerWash Simulator continue to evolve, but even in its current state, the single most important thing about this game is that it’s fun.

PowerWash Simulator

It was fun cleaning everything. I loved climbing around, experiencing the bright colors, and trying out the different nozzles. In a gaming landscape saturated with so much intensity and competition, it was so nice to come home from a long day, sit down, and just powerwash some stuff and buy a new set of gloves.

PowerWash Simulator is a game for people who love a clean space. It’s a meditation for those who need a stress-free break. The gameplay is easy and straightforward, the controls handle beautifully, and the colors jump out with vibrance and life. I do feel like the game is hurt with such a soft delivery on its story and lack of soundtrack. The dirt highlighter could also benefit from multiple color options. I feel that the requirements on smaller objects and crevices could use some tweaking. I love booting this up for some relaxing gameplay. It’s easily one of my favorite games to play on Xbox.

***Xbox code provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Relaxing, Easy Gameplay
  • Brilliant Colors
  • Great Water Effects
  • “One More Stage”-itis

The Bad

  • No Soundtrack
  • Story Isn’t Prominent
  • Crevices Are Annoying