Review: PowerWash Simulator – Scrubs Up Well

I have never known a game to be quite so relaxing as PowerWash Simulator. No matter what I did, everything about this game was chill. Graphics, gameplay, storytelling and setting – all very simple, yet all of them so cozy. The game isn’t perfect, there were some problems for me that could have been ironed out. And yet, there was never a point where PowerWash Simulator made me feel any negative emotion, other than the career mode ending when I wanted more. The game lets you get lost in the cleaning, and I came out with a clearer mind because of it. The developers over at FuturLab definitely put something in the water, and I’m hooked.

The main attraction of PowerWash Simulator, like most simulator games, is the gameplay. It is here that the game shines brightest, and the feature that makes PowerWash Simulator the gem that it is. All you have to do is wash stuff. From cars to carousels, bikes to bathrooms, and garages to gardens, you’ll be cleaning it all. It really is surprising just how many jobs there are to complete, and how varied they can be. Every individual part of a vehicle, house or area has a meter that indicates how clean it is, and you just have to empty that meter until it is clean and get rewarded with cash for doing so. Repeat a hundred times or so in the larger areas of the game, and the job is complete. Progressing through PowerWash Simulator will make you encounter more stubborn stains, but luckily the item shop allows the player to get a few upgraded power washers. As well as upgrades to the washers, you can also purchase new components to increase range, equip soaps that tackle certain surfaces better, or just customize your outfit and washer. 

It cannot be overstated just how calming and therapeutic it is to sit back and clean these areas, seeing them transform in real time. The swipes you leave in the dirt with your power washer is pure satisfaction. PowerWash Simulator is clearly designed to please that primal part of our brain that enjoys seeing the transformation that comes with cleaning surfaces until they’re perfectly restored – the same phenomenon that led to a rise of similar videos on YouTube. The game capitalizes on that feeling, and bumps that satisfaction up a notch because you are the one responsible for the cleaning. You can do it all in your own silly little order, and when you’re done you’ll be able to appreciate all your cleaning. PowerWash Simulator emphasizes that with a handy action replay at the end of each job, giving you a brief timelapse of what you just did from a third-person perspective. 

A screenshot from PowerWash Simulator showing an old car being cleaned.
You’ll be seeing this a lot, and love every minute of it.

To my surprise, PowerWash Simulator does also have a story. The way it plays out is very relaxed, almost entirely taking place through a series of messages found on your in-game tablet. Messages are sent before, during and after completion of a ‘Career Mode’ job, and will help contextualize what it is you’re cleaning and why. The game starts very basic, but builds to an interesting (and appropriately silly) plot going on through the subtle clues found in these messages. The biggest story beats come late in PowerWash Simulator, so I will not be covering them here for the sake of spoilers. When the credits rolled and I had finished the final job, I felt pleasantly surprised by where the story went. The plot doesn’t have any major emotional component like other games from publisher Square Enix, but it doesn’t need to either. The story being simple maintained the calm vibe that players of the game are likely looking for. It was simple yet effective.

The same judgment can be made about PowerWash Simulator’s graphics and audio. The basic graphics I actually found to be quite charming, adopting an accessible cartoon-realism hybrid that didn’t overly stimulate, nor was it boring. The dirt and muck found etched into metal walls or wooden fences is practical in that it’s very clear to see, and had good texture work to look pretty realistic and nasty. The buildings and background elements also deliver in their simplicity. 

In the audio department, PowerWash Simulator delivers a whole lot of… whooshing. The flood of spraying water makes up 98% of what one hears as they play the game, with the other 2% being sound effects or some calming ambience like the chirping of the birds or low hum of electricity. The lack of a strong musical score and the soft ambience once again cements the fact that this game exists to perfect that relaxing vibe. 

A screenshot from PowerWash Simulator highlighting the graphics.
These graphics are squeaky clean.

The gameplay does have some small issues that make PowerWash Simulator less enjoyable than it could be. The main problem would be that sometimes it feels impossible to know where the leftover dirt is. There is an option that the player will be using regularly that highlights leftover dirt with a yellow flash, but when the apparent remaining muck is so tiny it can be hard to see. When the cleanliness bar is showing that there’s something left but your eyes are telling you the opposite, the game can become less calming. The smaller objects you can just blast with the jet and then it isn’t so much of an issue, but on big walls or floors you can be left stumped. 

The customisation element of PowerWash Simulator also leaves a lot to be desired. Skins can be purchased with in-game currency for your power washer, yet it doesn’t tell you how to equip them. There’s a small icon in the bottom-right corner of the washer’s equipment screen that lets you change them, if you’re wondering. Further, the customisation options in general are relatively barebones. Some of the washer skins are pretty to look at, but the gloves and outfits for the character are pretty uninspired plain colors. There is no cosmetic reward for completing Career Mode either, which would have been enjoyable to use when continuing in free play, multiplayer or doing special jobs. 

Despite these small flaws, I could not stop myself from turning PowerWash Simulator back on whenever I had a free moment. The feeling of satisfaction the game brings provides a seriously high level of replay value. The career mode can be replayed in free play, which will definitely keep me coming back to experience some of the better jobs whenever I need to unwind. This is before even acknowledging the game’s multiplayer, which lets you team up with friends to get the cleaning done faster. 

The GameLuster logo written in the dirt in PowerWash Simulator.
I had to fight the urge to write the entire review for this game on dirty floors.

PowerWash Simulator has room for some improvement, but the addicting gameplay, calming experience and variety of jobs it offers are like none other in the genre. The amount of content gives great value for money, and the replayability – including online with friends – will keep you going for a while. Whilst a few tweaks or additions could make PowerWash Simulator even better, it’s easy for me to recommend this game. Have you played PowerWash Simulator? Are you planning to after this review? Whatever it is you’re thinking, let us know in the comments below. For more reviews, keep your eyes on GameLuster.

Bobby played PowerWash Simulator on PC with his own copy. PowerWash Simulator is also available on Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X.

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