PowerWash Simulator Review: Be Like Water

Overwhelmingly positive on Steam, but free with Game Pass - you have to check out PowerWash Simulator if you're a fan of chilled out simulators and cleaning.

Between [will update title later as there’s an embargo] and PowerWash Simulator, there’s no contest for my gaming affection. Sure, there’s been others, but these two have been immersive. First, let’s do a PowerWash Simulator review as there’s an embargo on the other.

When I don’t get a review code, there are several reasons why, but the top three? My site isn’t big enough, the game’s had terrible reviews already, so they don’t send them out in fear of more bad press, or the third: it’s coming to Game Pass. Thank the Water Lords; this game was the latter.

From FuturLab and Square Enix, PowerWash Simulator has been in Early Access for a while but goes balls-out with a full release on PC and Xbox. Let’s save some reading time and say this is a first-person simulator where you clean stuff. No story, just a career mode and more. ‘No story’ is a lie, but it’s easily missed via pop-up text messages that disappear after a brief time. You’re too busy wetting stuff to be reading.

PowerWash Simulator Review - Wheels
Wheels. Source: PR

It starts with a dirty van, then, through word of mouth, you’ll get multiple gigs from car washes to playgrounds, carousels to ridonkulously-sized treehouses. The task is clear as the water you spray: clear all the dirt, graffiti and rust for a fistful of dollars. Naturally, you’re armed with a pressure washer with an infinite water supply (genius move), various upgradeable attachments and extensions, dedicated cleaning solutions and customisation options.

PowerWash Simulator is unbelievably relaxing. The only stress endured was the RSI in my digits. It’s nigh on impossible to not have another go, and admittedly, I lacked a little self-control. Perhaps it was not having to worry about filling up the water every five seconds (the cleaning fluids are consumable but super cheap), the lack of a timer, or the genuinely soothing sounds of water blasting? Not one feature sums up the game, but the overall gameplay is very therapeutic.

Those first few jobs are a grind as your starting equipment isn’t that powerful. There are four nozzles by default and four different washers. The professional setup is proper endgame gear but costs a bit to get there. Initially, these nozzles are indecipherable, but with the upgraded equipment, they pack a punch. Essentially they start with a precision nozzle, and the wider they get, the weaker the pressure. Ultimately my preference was the first two – the precision for ‘long shots’ and the second for the bulk of the work. 

It’s encouraged to switch the camera angle for most of the game. This causes the camera to lock so you can use sweeping motions to blast away the grime. I missed this for the first few stages. In true laid-back fashion, PowerWash Simulator doesn’t hold your hand with the controls. The loading screens show the button layout, but who reads those? Another feature I missed was the ability to pick up and carry scaffolding to ascend larger buildings. I didn’t realise this until the fire station (you’ll see what I mean when you get there), and use a combo of extensions and hanging off the side of the building. Mental.

It’s possible to jump in and out of a job and try something different now and then. While PowerWash Simulator is relaxing, it can be a slog with some stages taking a couple of hours. This might put off some. Unlike the generic inheritance simulators, the only equipment besides the washer are the liquids, so get used to washing. There’s no break in gameplay, but you are rewarded with gorgeous locations. Even the vehicles vary from RVs to prototype aeroplanes. And don’t think you can blast through a quick job for easy money as it all takes time.

I’ve been a bit obsessed with this and stopped posting for a couple of days as a result. Unlocking those upgrades took some time, even if they were game-changing, but to put it in perspective, I didn’t even contemplate the customisations. You can change your suit (hazmat?!), gloves and washer. It’s probably a bit more relevant in multiplayer – which I didn’t play – just the solo game. 

With that in mind, PowerWash Simulator is an excellent solo experience with tonnes of content, including a Free Play mode, Challenge Mode and Specials (for up to six other players). If you’re a fan of first-person cleaning and repetitive motions, you’ll love PowerWash Simulator. That doesn’t sound great, but if you got a kick out of sweeping castle floors or detailing a car, definitely check this out. More so if you have Game Pass. Don’t have it yet? Get it!