This is a game about water. Water that is shot at high speeds to clean dirty surfaces. Fulfill your secret internal desire to clean by helping out the residents of Muckingham and instill fear in every speck of dirt!
PowerWash Simulator starts players off with a basic power washer and a filthy van. Why is it covered in mud? Apparently, the van was recovered from the bottom of a lake and sold at auction for cheap. Sounds suspicious, but this is now your new (probably haunted) work van!
The power washer has multiple nozzles that can be swapped on the fly. Each nozzle has a different spread and cleaning power. The widest nozzle is good for covering a large area, but can only wash off surface stains. The more powerful sprayers have a much smaller spread so it takes more time to clean a big area. The nozzle can be rotated and has a toggle to turn on so you can focus on aiming. Clean line by line or opt for complete chaos and draw smiley faces or squiggles as you spray off the mud.
The UI in PowerWash Simulator is squeaky clean and contains all sorts of useful information at a glance. The top left contains a map cleaned percentage and the name and material type of anything the cursor is pointed at. A star rating and tally of all money earned lies in the top right. The bottom left shows which washer and attachments are currently equipped while the bottom right shows if you are crouched or standing.
As far as accessibility, keys can be rebound to suit your individual needs. This game has the most audio configuration options I have ever seen! Silence specific annoying sounds or turn down everything but the water splooshes and jam to your own tunes. There are many configurable graphic options including HDR support and lower end computer options such as turning off shadows and water effects for performance.
Cleaning is a breeze and is free from pixel hunting! Objects and parts only need to be about 90% free of filth before they flash blue and a cha-ching sound plays. They become free of all remaining dirt and you earn some cash. If you are not sure what is still dirty, you can press a button and any remaining dirt will pulse with an orange light. A check-list is also present in case you still have trouble figuring out what you missed. A time lapse plays after each mission so you can reflect on what a good job you did.
Some missions provide extra tools to do the job. Stools, ladders, and scaffolding are present to help cleaners reach the tops of various structures. The moveable tools were a bit finicky as the cursor needed to be pointing at the metal of the ladder, rather than its general vicinity, in order to pick it up. This may be due to the fact that you can shoot through the ladder rungs to clean so only the physical parts of the ladder have a hitbox. Ladders felt like a slip and slide as my character would shift to the left and right when trying to climb up. I would often bump into and accidentally start scaling the side of ladders too. Luckily the cleaner has legs of steel and can safely land on the ground should they fall.
Progression comes in the form of unlocking new levels and an equipment shop. More powerful power washers are available along with attachments that increase the distance your washer can reach. Stronger washers make cleaning much easier as they have a longer range and can clean rust, algae, and other stuck on scum with the wider spraying nozzles. Cleaning formulas are also available for each surface type, allowing quick spot cleaning of hard to clean areas. Soap runs out quickly, so expect to only use these sparingly.
During campaign missions, you will receive text messages from the current client or those offering new job opportunities. The dialogue tries to be humorous, but it fell flat for me. Most of the jokes include groan worthy puns, pitiful attempts to explain just how the entire backyard was caked in mud, and the client’s kid telling you they need to poop. It felt low effort, or at least lowbrow, and did not make me crack a smile. However, this is a game about power washing so it does not necessarily need a good narrative and lore to be enjoyable.
Despite being in early access, there is a good variety of maps here. Short missions involve cleaning vehicles and only take a few minutes. Long missions involve large areas such as a backyard, a playground, and an entire house exterior. These large maps can take over an hour to complete which can be rather draining. Fortunately, level progress is saved so you can always take a break from a long job and come back to complete it later. Missions are unlocked in batches though, so you may have to clean 60% or so of a large house in order to get to more interesting environments or shorter missions.
Levels vary from realistic to more whimsical settings. Cottages, skate parks, carousels, and more can be cleaned of the mysterious mud disaster that has befallen them. There is even a special mission where you can scrub the Mars rover of Martian dust. The developers have held community votes for new map concepts and appear to be shaping the game based on community feedback.
The Early Access roadmap includes content additions such as more maps, tools, and cosmetics. The more ambitious plans in the works include an online cooperative campaign and multiplayer modes. I rather enjoy the idea of going head to head with other power washers and competing to clean maps faster.
PowerWash Simulator has a solid base and plenty of growing potential. My main criticism would be that many of the structures are not at a realistic scale. The player character is as tall as the front door on a house and, as a result, many of the large structures feel like giant toy models rather than usable structures. The smaller scale could be so that there is less to clean, seeing as every structure is absolutely caked with muck from top to bottom. It is a bit baffling when the client texts me from inside the miniature house I am cleaning to tell me I am doing a good job. I wonder how they can see out of those windows I have not cleaned yet?
Note: GameOctane received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for review is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience. All opinions therein are from the author alone.
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