Game: Power Wash Simulator
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows), PS4 and Xbox One)
Developer|Publisher: FuturLab | SquareEnix Europe
Age Rating: EU 7 | US Everyone 10+
Price: UK £19.99 | EU € 24,99 | USD $24.99
Release Date: January 31st, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to FuturLab.
Attack of the Simulators
Power Wash Simulator is another title in a long line of simulator games. Turning real-world tasks, which most of us would find mundane, into entertaining video games. From past experience, I still go into these games, not sure what to expect.
The quality of games rocking the simulator title varies wildly. But when I saw developer FuturLab was attached to this who had worked on classics like the Velocity series I had a hunch this title was in good hands. Power Wash Simulator makes cleaning a relaxing and enjoyable experience you may just want to enjoy on the sofa after a rough day in your real-life job.
A Dirty Job
The story is pretty minimal and text-based. You’re just a chap/chapette suited up to take on those tough cleaning jobs. After cleaning down your van, you set off onto much grander projects, like an entire garden to scrub down. As you progress more folk will hear of your skills, and you’re offered even more jobs from vehicles to entire houses.
Each mission offers you a little backstory to its premise. For example, being offered the job of scrubbing a dirty kids’ playground because the kids that played there came down with some nasty diseases. One look at the area and you can see why. In a way, the text presentation does a good job of letting your imagination run wild, even though the levels feel pretty lifeless. As you clean your way through each job, pop up messages will appear to make you feel a little less lonely, but I was pretty content with the job at hand.
Hose it Down
The goal of each level is to rid the area of all the dirt. Sometimes this is something simple like a dirt bike; other times, it’s an entire mini golf course. It can seem quite overwhelming when presented with these large-scale filthy areas. But, like any problematic project, you have to get stuck in and start cleaning.
The gameplay is similar to a first-person shooter (FPS); only your weapon of choice is a power hose, which, when triggered, causes cleanliness rather than destruction. Using the hose is instantly rewarding. Watching a surface go from dirty to sparkly clean is very satisfying, and I quickly found myself sucked into the experience. You can rotate your hose, and if you need to fine-tune your aim, you can press up on the D-pad to gain free flow of your aiming. It’s not all about pointing and shooting.
Switch Nozzles on the Fly
Controls are nice and fluid; you can switch out your nozzles on the fly or open a wheel-like option to fine-tune your attachments and cleaning equipment to tackle specific surfaces. Yes, this game gets pretty in-depth into stain management, which is a sentence I didn’t think I would ever write for a review. At the top left of the screen is a percentage meter indicating how far you are from the cleaning job. Each time a specific surface is cleaned, it pings blue to give you a chirpy indication you can move on. As you accumulate more money, you can upgrade your hose and unlock various attachments and nozzles to make the experience and those tough-to-tackle stains all that easier.
If you do lose track of what’s left to do, you can open the options to see what still needs cleaning or tap the right button on the D-pad to highlight clearly what’s left in the level. You have unlimited water in career mode so you can take as much time as you want completing levels, which makes the game a pretty chilling experience. The best aspect is there is no pressure (see what I did there) to get things 100% correct. You can take time to play with the equipment and make the experience your own. If only cleaning was this much fun in real life.
Graphics are the general realistic look you expect to see in a simulator game, standard house and vehicle designs; only everything is covered in a grim layer of dirt. It feels like familiar territory, yet it most certainly ticks the box for family-friendly for everyone.
There is some nice attention to detail. You get that damp effect on surfaces after you give it a good spray, and I was delighted to see reflections off shiny surfaces, something so rarely seen in Switch. Performance is pretty good too. In the game, everything ran well in handheld and TV modes. The only noticeable flaw is the loading times are a bit long between levels. There’s not much of a soundtrack, but I see this as being a game one would rather shove on a podcast or have a film on in the background.
Power Wash Simulator is not a short game. You’re looking at over 30 hours of cleaning time. With a simple control system, it’s a nice experience to dip in and out of from time to time. You can save the game absolutely anywhere and even leave levels to start a new project and return to it later. As well as the career, you have a free mode to play previously completed levels and bonus levels where you can take on more obscure cleaning projects like the Mars rover. If you do fancy more difficulty, you can take on challenge mode, where you replay levels to clean under a time limit or with a limited water supply.
Co-op with Friends
On top of all of this, you can enjoy the game in co-op with friends to share the cleaning joy together. Sadly no split screen though I guess that’s a tall order for Nintendo Switch games these days. It was a little disappointing to see that the Nintendo Switch port doesn’t feature cross-play multiplayer, which only features across Xbox and PC. The last thing to mention is the game already has free DLC. Tasking you to clean Croft Manor from the Tomb Raider series, which is well worth downloading. The game is set to have paid DLC in the future, one of which features a crossover with Final Fantasy 7. The cleaning never ceases.
Conclusion – Clean Finish
Power Wash Simulator is probably the most enjoyment I have had a cleaning in a video game up to this point. There is something incredibly relaxing about seeing the dirty project ahead of you. Then, little by little, turning into something new and shiny again. For me, the game is at its best when you can take things at your own pace. With that in mind, I probably wouldn’t recommend this to everyone. This slow-paced design may be boring to some, and the game’s general concept may not click. As for the Switch version, apart from the slow load times and lack of cross-play co-op, it’s a solid port. Power Wash Simulator happily places itself in the realm of Simulator games I would recommend.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot