A simple yet satisfying game that's perfect for the Switch. Pick it up and play between meetings or sink several hours in at a time.
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as watching layers of dirt get stripped from a surface with the perfectly straight lines of a power washer. I never understood the appeal of ASMR audio content, but there are a lot of things I find visually satisfying. I could watch videos of people cleaning disgusting abandoned rugs or patios covered in moss all day. Would I ever want to do it myself? Nope, not really, unless it’s from the comfort of my own home.
That’s where PowerWash Simulator comes in. This sim game tapped into the internet’s obsession with seeing something caked in mud become spotless before their eyes and dare I say perfected it. I’ve been a huge fan of PowerWash Simulator let’s plays before getting my hands on the Switch copy and I was so excited to be able to play on the go. Luckily, this port does not disappoint.
I imagine if you’re used to power washing on PC using a mouse and keyboard, it can be a bit fiddly at first to get used to using the JoyCon’s sticks. I struggled a little at first purely due to my own terrible camera control (I don’t recommend you watch me play games if you get motion sickness) but quickly got comfortable with the controls and washed like a pro.
The level design is vibrant and the complexity of jobs scales at a comfortable speed. The levels feel realistic, not because of high-quality graphics, but because they feel uniquely used and like they’re taken from a real place. The first large-scale job you face is someone’s back garden, and the small details like the toy car left in the middle of the lawn and the water bowl outside the dog house give the levels a sense of personality, creating a narrative in a game that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find a story in.
The text messages you receive from customers during your jobs also add to the story, providing lighthearted and genuinely very funny commentary without breaking the zen you create as you’re concentrating on the task at hand. Whether or not you choose to believe in the ‘hidden lore’ of PowerWash Simulator or not, these elements make the game feel more human and that personally motivates me to do a better job in my cleaning.
You might see a lot of reviews for Switch ports that essentially read, “it’s a great game, but don’t play it on Switch”. I’ve been guilty of this myself with my Life is Strange 2 Switch review, but I’m pleased to say that PowerWash Simulator bucks the trend. I find myself becoming a lot more immersed when I play handheld on my sofa or in bed than when I played with my Switch docked. The control layout perfectly suits the JoyCons construction and everything feels like it’s in the right place. Shrinking the screen size down doesn’t affect my ability to read text or hunt down the nooks and crannies I miss, and the autosave function makes this game the perfect ‘pick up and play’ choice for when you have a spare ten minutes… or three hours.
The only ‘nice to have’ I can think of is that a motion controls option could make for a hilarious and immersive power washing experience when playing docked, but this is definitely not essential. So many people forget that the Switch even has motion controls and a touch screen, so more games should make an effort to integrate these features into their games. Definitely not a deal breaker though.
In terms of accessibility, PowerWash Simulator has a pretty decent range of options. There’s a whole menu dedicated to button remapping, so you can switch the controls around to suit your needs. Plus, the audio menu has sliders for water volume, ambient noise volume, footstep volume, and loads more to customise your experience. The ‘aim mode’ feature also makes it so you don’t have to worry about moving the camera at all, and can simply aim with one joystick to cover a whole area.
I’m looking forward to exploring the multiplayer functionality a lot more as when I did give it a go it was really fun. Working together with a friend to clean a giant play park? What’s not to love! There’s also an absolutely massive Tomb Raider-themed DLC available in the Nintendo eShop for completely free, which is a huge plus. If FuturLab keeps this up, I don’t see myself hanging up my washer any time soon.
Overall, PowerWash Simulator is a simple concept done phenomenally well that translates perfectly onto the Nintendo Switch. This game is great if you need something to take your mind off the worries of the world for a few hours and runs just as well in handheld as it does docked. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a mansion to clean…