The Zen of Powerwash Simulator

Sprocket Wagner ‘23 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

When the “satisfying videos” craze hit the Internet, driven by ASMR and slime videos, power washers got caught in the wave. A panning spray of water removing what might be years of grime from a sidewalk scratches some itch in our brains—specifically the parts that release serotonin and dopamine. Being able to bring this effect with your own hands, without physical exertion, was the next natural step. This is where Powerwash Simulator comes in. It’s been making the rounds of the YouTube circuit since its release in March, bringing massive success. Watching someone powerwash is one thing, but doing it ourselves is even more pleasurable.

This isn’t the first game of its kind, and it won’t be the last—but it is one of the most satisfying. For example, Viscera Cleanup Detail, released in 2015, takes on a similar task. In that game, the player is tasked with cleaning up after sci-fi horror events, taking tools such as a mop and bucket and cleaning massive spaces—but PowerWash Simulator is already quickly approaching its sales numbers and beating its review scores. Why is this?

One aspect is accessibility. Viscera Cleanup Detail is challenging. This isn’t an inherent fault, but it drives away many players looking for a satisfying experience. For example, many of the game’s negative Steam reviews cite a lack of tutorial, where PowerWash Simulator has controls that are easy to understand, though not every tool is explained well in that game either. PowerWash Simulator also has tools that make finding that villainous dirt easy—pressing “tab” will cause any remaining dirt to glow, and any uncleaned parts can be highlighted individually from a list.

Another is simplicity. Viscera Cleanup detail requires planning ahead and meticulous care, like a real cleanup job. Your footsteps can track dirt, or whatever space biohazard the level is populated with. There are intricate, zero-gravity levels, where the flip of a switch can undo hours of progress, and even when everything lines up purposely, the game’s collision can cause a corpse to shoot from a bin like a firework and Jackson Pollock all over your freshly corpse-free canvas. This isn’t to say that challenge is bad, or that Powerwash Simulator is devoid of challenge. It has time challenges and water efficiency challenges, but they live in their own menu, keeping their sticky hands far from the pure zen of the main game.

That is the true source of this game’s wonder—the zen of it all. There is little to add stress—no time limits, supply limits, or secondary mechanics. Other cleaning games present cleaning as a chore: a challenge to be mounted. Powerwash Simulator instead presents a canvas of dirt and a brush of pure dopamine. Runoff? Haven’t heard of it. Each section you complete flashes and a bell sounds, informing you of your success. As the game is in early access, it can be a little short on stages, but this won’t be a problem for long given the frequency of updates. The game is one of the most refined experiences of its kind, and worth every penny. Powerwash Simulator gets a solid A, being the best version of the thing it sets out to be.

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