It’s certainly fair to accuse me of being a latecomer when it comes to Covid-19. Despite the pandemic being my number-one source of crippling anxiety for the last two-and-a-half years, it’s taken me this long to actually contract it all for myself. And pow, it’s taken me out hard. To which I say: Thank God for PowerWash Simulator.
You know how they say that “even the faintest line” on a covid test is proof of an infection? My test’s line looked like it had been drawn on there with an extra-thick Sharpie, in one of those inks scientists are always discovering that absorb more waves of light than any colour before them. At the end of last week I went from, “I think I might have a bit of a cold,” to, “Prise my corpse from this couch I shall never stand again,” in about an hour.
There’s part of me that always tries to romanticize the idea of a sick day. “I can just lie around and play video games!” I imagine to myself, confusing illness with my more normal pathology of laziness. Because of course, in reality, if I’m ill enough not to be working, I’m not going to be sat up tearing through Intense Bangs VII. In fact, I’m going to be just about capable of weakly flapping a hand up and down while complaining. Which brings us to PowerWash!
Has any game ever been better designed for those of us who are out of commission? You press the left d-pad button to turn on the spray, you waggled the right stick about to point it. And by this, plus the gentlest of moving around, you get to watch a dirty thing become clean. It’s therapy for the clinically feeble, like me right now.
Plenty has been written about that therapeutic nature of PowerWash Sim, as the entire gaming world tries to rationalize or justify playing something some objectively ridiculous. But I want to celebrate it just for being the highest levels of satisfaction for the lowest levels of effort.
There I have been, prostrate on the sofa, barely capable of croaking my dissatisfaction with the so-called universe, but still able to clean a damned fire station.
I’ve got my list of problems with the game. Like everyone else, I’ve been enormously frustrated by trying to find that one tiny blemish on the underside of a wheel that’s basically touching the ground, and then utterly outraged as a vast swathe of dirty roof suddenly declares itself finished and pings itself clean despite being anything but—I mean, what even is that?! Why would the game take the satisfaction away from me?!... I’ve just been having those reactions at a very low-key level, such that no one else would notice, probably because they were also checking me for a pulse.
My family looks at the game and thinks me quite mad. On my second day in a row on the couch, as I got right back to work scrubbing an entire haunted mansion with a fancy toothbrush, my wife laughed out loud and said, “Are you doing to be doing this all day today too?” I mumbled something about how it was stopping me from wanting to be dead, and then carried on with my important yet barely-sentient work.
As you may have heard, Covid-19 is a real piece of shit. It’s genuinely frightening to know I’m getting the super-diluted Easy Mode version, one top of three vaccinations, and yet it’s kicking my ass so hard. I do worry that PowerWash Simulator will forever be associated in my head with being sick (as Animal Crossing: New Horizons will forever just remind me of that first, most frightening three months of global closure), but I remain ridiculously grateful for its methodical, undemanding, low-pressure high-pressure ways.