I don’t know what I expected when starting up PowerWash Simulator‘s Midgar Special Pack, but I wouldn’t have ever guessed I’d be Reeve’s confidant.
Obviously, as a general rule, we would not cover PowerWash Simulator at RPGFan, but come on, if you’re going to offer me a chance to help Tifa clean up Seventh Heaven or to spit-shine Cloud’s Hardy Daytona (there’s no “safe” way to phrase that, so I went all out), who am I to say no?
I would generally describe myself as clean, working toward tidy. I am a big fan of Marie Kondo and her KonMari Method, though I’m not an official consultant or anything (but to say I never looked into it would be a lie). Conceptually, a game that puts you in a messy spot and asks you to clean things up is right up my alley. It turns out that both the core game design of PowerWash Simulator and this Final Fantasy VII-themed DLC are incredibly well done. Wow, that’s not a sentence I ever thought I’d be typing in my life.
Launching the Midgar Special Pack presents you with your first job: Help Shinra employee Reeve Tuesti clean up The Hardy Daytona and Shinra Hauler for their exhibit. The other vehicles on display look great, but every inch of these two familiar vehicles is covered in unspeakable grime. As you clean, Reeve occasionally sends messages talking about the vehicles. While there are some tongue-in-cheek nods to the events of FFVII — obviously this non-canon powerwashing tale takes place before the AVALANCHE crew steals these vehicles — it’s not as overt as it could have been. I like fan service as much as the next person, but when media bombards you with elbows to your ribs and a raised eyebrow, constantly asking, “Hey, did you get that? That was a reference to that other thing you like?”, I not only tire of it, but my ribs get sore. Luckily, PowerWash Simulator strikes the right balance between references and entertaining or insightful commentary.
The following job comes by way of everyone’s favorite “probably has bears in his family tree” Shinra employee, Heidegger. Cleaning up two small vehicles was clearly a practice round, because moving on to cleaning the Scorpion Sentinel is an order of magnitude more involved. This is where I delved into using different nozzles to get those hard-to-reach cannon bits, and you have to take advantage of the supplied (movable) scaffolding to climb up and clean the raised tail laser. But don’t worry! Heidegger assures you that you are registered as a non-aggressive target (for now) and won’t be lasered to death. Thanks, Heidy!
On this job, your contract employer tries to sell you on the might of Shinra’s technology and weaponry while also complaining about Hojo, since his experiments that mucked up his beloved Sentinel in the first place. Cleaning the iconic Scorpion Sentinel was both satisfying and conflicting. Again, this game clearly takes place before the events of FFVII. If my PowerWash Simulator avatar didn’t clean it up, would Shinra have sent it after Cloud and company? Am I part of the problem? While pondering that and helping clean this massive weapon, Tifa messages, offering me a job. I didn’t have the heart to tell her about my current contract, but hey, times are tough in Midgar, and a guy’s gotta work where he can.
Still, with the Scorpion polished to a mighty sheen, I made my way to Seventh Heaven. And. Tifa. Look, girl. You can tell me all you want about how a gathering got out of hand, but this is ridiculous. Every surface in the bar is so dirty that it quenches even the glow of the neon signs until getting blasted with water. Obviously, Tifa is underselling the events that went down, or any explosions that may have happened, but I’d much rather be working for her anyway. Much like Reeve talking about private Shinra matters, Tifa doesn’t mind confiding in me that she’s part of a resistance group opposed to the way Shinra is destroying the planet. And look, I know this dialogue is window dressing and I don’t need to read into it, but it’s way more fun TO do that. I love the idea that PowerWash Simulator Person is someone people from both Shinra and AVALANCHE can open up to. Are they old friends? Maybe Reeve and Tifa really just need someone to talk to. There’s a lot on the line, and sometimes confiding in someone you don’t know very well is a great way to get things off your chest or get unbiased advice.
Though I still wish she would be more honest about what actually caused this mess.
I focused on the jobs and story in this piece since those aspects are relevant to Final Fantasy VII fans. But the solid gameplay of PowerWash Simulator is truly what makes itall work. Visually, the game is beautiful. The Shinra locations and Seventh Heaven look great, clearly designed to look as they do in Final Fantasy VII Remake. The key to the visuals, though, is texture. Things need to look dirty when they’re dirty and clean when they’re clean. There are countless “dirty” textures. Some are thin layers of what looks like smoke damage; some are caked on dirt. The Scorpion Sentinel is covered in all this along with alien-looking green slime and other fluids from creatures you’d probably not invite over for dinner. Sometimes certain surfaces don’t even look that dirty, but when you clean them, it’s a night-and-day change. Cleaning lamps in Seventh Heaven allows their light to illuminate the bar. Cleaning up the floor and kitchen, you start to see subtle reflections in the wood and metal surfaces. The Hardy Daytona reflects the environment nicely once clean. The cleaning is intensely satisfying, and the excellent texture work is a significant component of that.
Other aspects contribute to that satisfying feeling in PowerWash Simulator, too. An easy-to-hit “show dirt” button briefly highlights remaining dirt on surfaces. The UI (see the target in the upper left with a white bar, above) visually shows how close you are to removing all the dirt from a given object. When any object or component is 100% clean, it quickly pulses with light and emits a satisfying “ding.” The game’s menu is displayed in an iPad-like overlay, suggesting your cleaner manages all their work with this on-the-job tablet. If you’re going for 100% on a job, the tablet lists every single item in an area with a percentage of cleanliness.
Thankfully, some of the more obscure ones — I doubt you know exactly where the Mark 98 exhaust vent on the Scorpion Sentinel is any more than I did — are clickable, which will highlight them in the game world. All told, the visuals, sound effects, and UI work in tandem to make cleaning fun, efficient, and as I keep repeating, satisfying. I look forward to spending more time with the game and learning new techniques. Bring on the new nozzles and cleaning fluids! Another sentence I never thought I’d ever type!
I covered three of the five jobs in the Midgar Special Pack today. The full release will have five, but we can’t discuss the latter two just yet. But I expect more cleaning and entertaining dialogue from Shinra and AVALANCHE friends. Listening to Tifa and Reeve open up about their thoughts and sharing insights is more than they needed to do here. A straight-up “clean these well-known things from FFVII” would have been fine! But by building in some light story and giving you a reason to be in these places, they managed to add unexpected narrative to my PowerWash Simulator, making the experience more memorable than it otherwise may have been.
If you’re like me and in that part of the Venn diagram where Final Fantasy and a love of cleaning overlap, I think you’ll enjoy this Midgar Special Pack. I’m less of a Tomb Raider fan than many other franchises, but I may as well help Lara Croft clean her manor at this point. And if the team at FuturLab has more strangely compelling collaborations for PowerWash Simulator in the future, sign me up!
PowerWash Simulator‘s Midgar Special Pack DLC is free for owners of the base game and launches March 2nd, 2023 on all platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.