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Why you need to go back and play PowerWash Simulator this holiday season

In a market oversaturated with mundane-task-sim games, it's all too easy to overlook this gem.

A powerwasher operator in festive mittens sprays water indoors onto a Christmas tree.
Image credit: FuturLab / Square Enix

PowerWash Simulator is an incredibly difficult game to justify enjoying if, like me, you're in your 30s and have a home that you have a serious adult responsibility to maintain. There's a certain awkwardness to showing this game to your Dad, sure he'll be excited — after all, what could be more of a Dad game than PowerWash Simulator? — only to watch his eyes glaze over before he silently heads out to his garage and starts using his actual power washer to actually deep-clean his actual driveway.

Alright, Dad, you've made your point; but also, here's why it's completely OK for me to play PowerWash Simulator even though I could just use that time to go outside and demoss my patio.

Look, I'll admit that I didn't understand the appeal of this game to begin with either, but it all fell into place for me once I realised what it actually is: one of those adult colouring books, but in reverse.

Seriously, my Dad (who is far more supportive and less judgemental than I've made him out to be for comedic purposes, but was nevertheless unmoved by my early attempts to sell him on PowerWash Simulator) absolutely loves adult colouring books, paint-by-numbers kits, and other kinds of relaxing hobbies that allow you to turn your brain off and just vibe creatively for a bit. And that's what this game is truly all about: soothing running water sounds interrupted only by an encouraging little chime whenever you clean off an object, watching with gentle satisfaction as bright colours and sparkling surfaces slowly emerge from under layers and layers of grime.

To sweeten the deal, early this year PowerWash Simulator received a free DLC (licence courtesy of publisher Square Enix) which allows you to blast all the muck off of the exterior of Croft Manor from the classic '90s Tomb Raider games while Lara sends you friendly yet casually classist texts. This is absolutely not something that happens during real-life housework and renders this game undeniably superior to real cleaning in every conceivable way. Maybe if Squeenix made a Zombies, Run!-style housework app that cast you as Lara's kitchen maid I'd have an easier time getting the washing up done and, um, this better not awaken anything in me.

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Did I buy PowerWash Simulator just for the Tomb Raider DLC? No, but in truth, I only got around to it at all because I got a Steam Deck for my birthday this year. To be honest, I probably never would have checked this game out on any other platform, Tomb Raider be damned; but I followed a hunch that it would be great on handheld, and sure enough it quickly became my go-to game for aimlessly kicking back with the Deck. There's nothing quite like sticking a livestream or podcast on in the background and just chilling with your power washer for a couple of hours while you catch up on all that content you can't quite bring yourself to just sit and absorb but also can't bear to miss.

I actually had to put a hard stop on my time with PowerWash Simulator starting in early October, because I realised I'd never make a dent in all the GOTY contenders I had to play for consideration unless I went cold turkey. I'll almost certainly end up picking it back up over Christmas though. I'll probably make another go at showing it to my Dad while I'm at it. Maybe the free DLC — which now encompasses not only Tomb Raider but also Final Fantasy and, as of last week, a festive trip to the North Pole to pressure wash Santa's horrifically filthy workshop — will be enough to hype him up this time?

What games did you finally get around to playing in 2023 only to find that they were among the highlights of your year? Let us know in the comments!

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Rebecca Jones avatar

Rebecca Jones

Guides Writer

Rebecca (she/her) is a veteran fan of the life sim genre, and has racked up almost 2,000 hours of play time between The Sims 4 and Animal Crossing: New Horizons alone. She still isn't sure whether that's a badge of honour or a source of shame. She's been working in the games industry for 5 years.