written by Dayna Abel
You wouldn’t ordinarily associate the phrase “feel-good hit of the summer” to a video game, but if anything deserves the attribution, it’s Power Wash Simulator.
Developed by FuturLab and published by Square Enix, Power Wash Simulator is exactly what it says on the tin. There are three types of gameplay: Career Mode, where you can earn money for upgrades and unlock successive places and vehicles to clean; Free Play, which lets you enjoy any previously completed job; and Specials, which at the moment consists only of cleaning the Mars Rover, but is planned to be a collection of cool and off-beat things to hose down.
As you progress through Career Mode, you earn money to upgrade your washer or buy a new one. There are short and long extensions, along with different nozzles, as well as surface-specific soaps that will clean a large area extremely quickly, but run out fast and cost money to refill. (Note that in Free Play, you can use the soap indefinitely without it running out, which is a small godsend.) I highly recommend buying the short extension and the turbo and soap nozzles for your washer as soon as you can afford them. The turbo nozzle is a high-pressure spiraling stream with a fairly long range that will really help with all the nooks and crannies you’ll miss.
The trick is to go slowly. There’s no time limit, and just like with a real water spray, you’re not going to make any progress if you just whip it over the dirt as fast as possible. You can cover a greater area with a wider nozzle, but at the expense of pressure. Higher pressures are necessary to remove some of the really caked-on filth, like graffiti or mold. For things like rust, the various soaps are the only things that will remove it.
The water physics in this game are remarkable. You can definitely feel the difference between the different pressure settings, and the spray bounces off of different materials and different angles exactly how you’d expect real water to react. I even managed to make a rainbow once or twice when I caught the sunlight just right. There aren’t any dripping effects, but that was probably a deliberate choice during development because I can see that getting too messy too quickly.
One of the few problems I can see is that this is not going to be very accessible for visually impaired or colorblind gamers. The Tab key will highlight the little spots you missed in a brief flash of bright orange, but it’s not very helpful against colors that run across the red-orange-yellow spectrum, and there’s no way to make it persist beyond that brief flash. I’ve found myself repeatedly tapping Tab just to keep that 1% of hidden dirt blinking. There’s no zoom feature – you have to physically get close enough to the dirt for the spray to eliminate it. It’s also occasionally hard to discern the difference between dirt and shadows, and no, I will not tell you how many times I tried to pressure-wash a shadow, because a gamer of my caliber would never.
With all that said and done, Power Wash Simulator is one of my favorite new obsessions and I haven’t been able to put it down. It’s so soothing and relaxing. Pop on your soundtrack of choice, adjust your nozzle, and enjoy a beautiful day making messy things look clean.