At their core, most video games are about cleaning up.
Take shooting games. You walk around the level, aim down the sights, and squeeze the trigger when your red dot sight is directly over an enemy’s head.
- Power Wash Simulator for Xbox, £19.99 – buy from Xbox
Bang. The enemy is removed from the game.
It’s the same instant gratification you get from clearing out the rocks and weeds from your ranch in Stardew Valley, a game about building a farm.
They all tap into the same part of your brain.
What sets a good shooting game apart from a dull one is a mixture of things: level design, encounter design, and gunfeel, which encapsulates a range of different development techniques.
Making a gun feel satisfying requires punchy audio, slick animations, and, most importantly, how the world and enemies react when shot.
It gets old quickly if enemies all fall over in the same canned animation. Video game guns feel better when bullets chip away at walls, glass shatters, and bodies ragdoll across the screen.
I think this is why I can’t stop playing Power Wash Simulator, which is exactly what it sounds like. A proper Dad Game.
You take control of a power wash company and you go out on jobs. Choose the right nozzle and blast away the grime – mucky play parks, dirty vans, and boggy back gardens are just some of the ‘enemies’ you’ll face.
Everything in this game is absolutely caked in dirt. Every inch of every surface. It gives it an almost coloring book feel as you bring life to an environment with a high-powered hose.
As an observer, it looks tedious, but that all changes when you’re the one doing the spraying.
There’s something going on here psychologically, and I think it boils down to one simple fact: we have so little control over our own lives.
Power Wash Simulator is work, but it’s low effort and opt-in. It’s almost like therapy.
It’s a world where you have some agency. Simply spray away the dirt and bring vibrancy to your environment.
You don’t have to pay rent. You don’t have to watch politicians argue with each other about who can implement the most terrifying policies, or who can steal the most money from the working class.
You definitely don’t have to fight with other humans over toilet roll paper so you can wipe your ass in a pandemic. It’s just you, the mud, and the hose. The perfect podcast game.
Or, if you want some company, you can always bring along a friend and play in co-op.
Power Wash Simulator is out now on Xbox and PC. If you subscribe to Game Pass, you can download it as part of your subscription.
Written by Kirk McKeand on behalf of GLHF.
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