PowerWash Simulator Review
It didn’t take long for PowerWatch Simulator to take its place in the pantheon of blue collar job simulators. You know the kind, one that turns a repetitive, stressful job into a repetitive, relaxing game. There’s great satisfaction taken in a job well done, and its always fun to operate heavy machinery that you may not get access to in the real world. Now on Switch, PowerWash Simulator will let you take your clean dreams on the go, anywhere.
Set Hoses to Spray
Game theorists have posited that all games are really about cleaning. Jamie Madigan, host of The Psychology of Video Games, has written about the Zeigarnik effect, “where incomplete tasks create a mental tension that is released when we finish.” This applies across genres. In a first person shooter, you are finding all the wandering entities in a level and making them not wander. In an RTS, you are wiping out every unit and building of the opponent’s base. In a Bethesda RPG, you are opening every closet and drawer and sorting through every last piece of garbage. (Surely that last one isn’t just me?)
So why not make that unconscious desire for purity explicit? PowerWash Simulator plonks you in front of something truly grimy, and asks you to make it pristine. You have your power washer of course. As you progress through the campaign, you will earn money that you can use to purchase more powerful washers, more versatile washer heads, and all sorts of soaps and solutions. Then you are given completion tracker and you are off.
How you scourge the space is up to you. You could walk across the level in neat little lines, spraying dirt and mud off of every surface and watch them turn colorful. Or you could proceed by object, circling every piece of furniture and not moving on before every pixel of its surface shines. Or you could go freestyle and carve glyphs of cleanliness into the grime. Me myself? I tended to switch on and off. There’s a whole wonderful world of cleaning, and I want to see it all.
Breaking the Business
We already reviewed PowerWash Simulator last summer for Xbox. And we rather liked it! We found some flaws though. The sound design in a little peculiar. You can hear footsteps, the wind, the chattering of birds. But mostly what you hear is the roar of your washer. This droning racket actually got so annoying that I lowered its volume to one quarter so I could enjoy the ambiance. But there is no soundtrack; certainly no dialogue. You get the occasional weird text message, but there’s not much of a story to hang your tasks on.
Not as if that’s a huge problem. You are here to wash, and wash you will. Because you want to. And if you want to clean on the go, the Switch port of PowerWash Simulator is really nice. Switch ports are hit or miss for me. There are graphics and processing concerns, and I find the Switch controller, even my nice 3rd party Joycons, to be inexact. Strategy games are a chore to control. First person shooters lack the necessary precision.
PowerWash Simulator is the best-feeling first person game I have played on Switch. It looks really nice, with special attention put into the surface textures that you will be looking so closely on. And the controls are nice and crisp. That’s important when you are trying to remove one last thin line of grossness. You aren’t always overcompensating, or stopping short. If I didn’t know any better, I would have guess that this was a Switch game all along.
Green For Clean
I’ve taken PowerWash Simulator with me everywhere. OK real talk, I haven’t gone that many places lately, but I’ve played it in every room of my house. I’ve played it on phones calls, and as a second screen game with TV on in the background, or something to help me focus on listening to an audiobook, or once, maybe, in a work Zoom meeting. For legal reasons, I cannot confirm or deny this last one, but as someone who sometimes struggles with keeping still, PowerWash Simulator takes just enough focus to help me listen better.
The verdict is, PowerWash Simulator belongs on Switch. It’s not an immersive world demanding you get lost in it. You’re just enjoying beautifying playgrounds and old busses. It’s something to do with your hands. As such, if you’ve been waiting to power wash some stuff, this Switch port is a great excuse to get started.
- Relaxing gameplay
- Crisp controls
- Wash on the go!
- Bare bones narratively
- Lackluster sound design