At this point in the life cycle of VR as a gaming medium it’s fair to say that we’ve established pretty well what it is and isn’t good at. It’s not particularly good at third person adventure like that one Tomb Raider game tried, and it’s not particularly good at complex RPGs despite a few games trying really hard to make an emulated tabletop feel immersive. What it’s really good at are games that require you to use your hands, and (though not exclusively) shit yourself every few seconds. Horror games, shooters, flight sims if you have a tough enough stomach, and job simulators. Powerwash Simulator VR, from FuturLab, is a perfect example of the latter.
Before we get too deep in, you should know I played it on a Meta Quest 2, and as such I won’t waste too long on complaints that it doesn’t always look great or perform smoothly. It plays fine on Quest 2, don’t get me wrong, but there are some issues with the framerate, especially if you’re using free locomotion. It’s not a game that relies heavily on texture appearance so you may not notice that a lot of the detail is pared down somewhat.
But this isn’t a game that’s trying to wow you with its looks, luckily. This is a game about jet-washing muck off various surfaces and, as such, it offers exactly what it promises. You play as a jobbing powerwash operator who travels from place to place cleaning gardens, sheds, playgrounds, houses, the works. No job is too big and no nozzle is too small.
It’s presented very tongue-in-cheek, of course, and there’s almost no story to speak of. You go in, you clean, you earn money for each thing you clean thoroughly, and you use the money to buy gloves, overalls, attractive skins for your hose, and a whole bunch of different nozzles, extensions and attachments, many of which you probably won’t ever use but it’s nice to have them just in case. You can access everything from either an adjustable toolbelt or a couple of radial menus, which make it simple to change your equipment on the fly.
Honestly though, Powerwash Simulator VR could withhold all forms of monetary payment and I’d still love it. It’s incredibly cathartic and relaxing to just sit and blast the grime off stuff. Certainly more relaxing than doing it in real life. I use teleport movement for VR as I get motion sickness like a vole in a tumble dryer after a night on the Jack ‘n’ Coke, but you can opt for free movement if you like. Chiefly though, this isn’t a game in which you need to feel thoroughly immersed. It’s not about generating scares, thrills, or awkward arousal; it’s just a game about cleaning the shite off things. I played it with music on in one ear the whole time and, because there’s no time pressure or competition, I reached a level of zen-like calm in no time at all.
You can of course choose to play with friends or strangers and work together to tackle stubborn dirt, but I never felt the need to do so. I’m not sure what it would add besides a sense of camaraderie against caked-on pigeon droppings, but it’s a nice mode to have if you do favour multiplayer in general.
For me, though, Powerwash Simulator has always been a game to just sit and chill with. It’s oddly satisfying to blast the dirt off mundane items, although when you’re also cleaning the Mars Rover or a sleeping Cave Dragon, it’s hardly mundane. Yet the game remains super relaxing and addictive nonetheless.
In VR, Powerwash Simulator really does go to another level. Despite a few performance hiccups that you may not even notice, it’s the perfect job sim for the VR platform. Simple, addictive, soothing and a lot of fun, Powerwash Simulator VR is the ideal fit for the Meta Quest headset.
Great comfort options
Can struggle during free movement
Some visual glitches
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