There’s an allure to real-life power washing that PowerWash Simulator VR sadly doesn’t quite capture. If you’ve spent any time suckered in by the TikTok algorithm, you’ll know the appeal of watching high-powered water blasting away years worth of grime and dirt line-by-line.
Unfortunately, while PowerWash Simulator VR can be satisfying, it also has you wondering just what the hell you’re doing, as you spend your few precious hours of free time essentially working a second — or sometimes third — job.
PowerWash Simulator VR puts you in the role of, well, a power washer. Armed with your trusty upgradable pressure washer with exchangeable nozzles, attachments, and cleaning liquids, you’ll take on jobs cleaning ranging from a hideously rusty vintage automobile to a children’s playground so filthy it should be deemed a quarantine zone.
The actual gameplay is incredibly simple: you stand in your living room aiming your hand at virtual dirt and blast it away with a press of the right trigger. Every now and then you’ll swap out your nozzle for a more powerful, focused blast or equip an attachment to attack the grime from a further distance. It’s not necessarily deep — for the most part you can work well with just one jack-of-all-trades nozzle — but you will find yourself swapping out your gear often for optimal cleaning. After all, the faster you clean, the more money you can make in a day.
PowerWash Simulator doesn’t screw you around too much, either. The dirtiness of an area is split between segments of an environment or object. Once you blast away the vast majority of dirt on that surface, the game will satisfyingly ping, flash the object and it’s complete. You’re also able to see surrounding filth with a quick hit of the Y button, allowing you to easily see disgusting scum these citizens have allowed to pile up on their property.
You’re also not necessarily locked into jobs. While you need a certain amount of stars to unlock new levels, you don’t have to 100% a mission to get some dough and move onto the next. However, if you do wipe away every single shred of dirt like a slower, wetter Kitchen Gun, you’ll get a huge payment bonus.
PowerWash Simulator VR has a weird appeal that not many other games have. Over the course of a few hours you’ll spend cleaning some grotty bungalow, you’ll find yourself delving into satisfying lulls where you’ll think of nothing but cleaning.
There’s no game quite like PowerWash Simulator when you really get into it. Slapping a true crime podcast on about a horrific family annihilator while you spend two hours blasting the dirtiest shoe-shaped house you’ve ever seen shouldn’t be anywhere near as calming as it is. Nevertheless, I’ve now learned everything there is to know about Jeffery MacDonald, cleaned a huge shoe and got all sleepy and ready for bed.
On the other hand, there are times of frustration, usually at the start of tackling an absolutely massive job. Who is caking all this mud and bird cack all over this house? Why is it the only house in the neighbourhood with any dirt on it? How did the local council allow this public playground to get so abominably filthy? Oh, budget cuts? Yeah, right.
On some of the bigger maps, it can take ages until you feel like you’re even making a dent on the job you’re tackling, and it is a job. Even going segment by segment, starting with the doors of the fire station that looks like it’s been on fire instead of just blasting in any direction to quell the threat of nearby grime. A dutty boy I shall not be.
There are also some annoying aspects to PowerWash Simulator VR that aren’t actually due to its gameplay. Despite being a later release, the VR game doesn’t include some of the cooler DLC levels, such as Lara Croft’s mansion, SpongeBob’s Bikini Bottom, or Final Fantasy VII’s vile version of Midgard. It’s likely just a licensing thing, but the maps’ absence is still a damn shame.
At the end of the day, I’m about 80% sure I really like PowerWash Simulator VR, but how much of that is Stockholm Syndrome? Once you’re in the groove of grime removal, it can be very, very satisfying. On the other side, the crushing realisation that I’m working a separate job for virtual money instead of money I can exchange for goods and services did take me out of the experience somewhat. Is that just a me thing? I dunno.
Reviewed on Meta Quest 2. A code was provided by the publisher.