TO A few years ago, on a misplaced and disorienting whim, I hired an industrial jet-wash. What, precisely, I needed to clean so urgently, or indeed so extravagantly, now eludes me, but the experience left an indelible impression. I can still feel the strong push of the stream, the spread of the pizza-slice-shaped jet, and the delicious way the high-speed sweep of water left an immaculate blow on the patio stone. Everything the jet-wash touched was brilliantly restored, as if the stream contained not mere water, but some kind of time-travel serum. I had the machine for the entire weekend and was completely carried away, until I was sweeping Yangtzes of dirty road runoff water, my clothes covered in decades of loose sediment. I was inordinately proud of my busy restorative work until a couple of teenagers passed away. Nodding in my direction, one commented to the other: “Now what it’s a shitty job. “
The joke is yours, I thought: this is not my real job. Unfortunately, writing about video games it is my current job: enter PowerWash simulator, a game in which you use an industrial jet wash to clean up your city. Everything is pleasantly simple: here is a dirty thing, wash it. His first specimen is a dirty van that, once restored, provides transportation to new jobs. It has a variety of nozzles (from weak-sweep to laser-focused), and it can roam the vehicle, squat to better dig in cracks and crevices, and set up a ladder.
Every discreet part of the vehicle – a tire, a window, a bumper – flashes when completely clean, and the final sound when the job is completed is completely satisfactory. It will soon go from the manageable to the overwhelming: an entire backyard located, presumably, near a devouring Vesuvius. With every surface covered in grime, the fuzzy focus makes the task feel less like a zen removal, but the appeal hasn’t diminished overall.
PowerWash simulator is currently in early access (you pay a reduced premium to play a game that hasn’t finished yet), but even now this is an irresistible example of the so-called “playbour”, and further proof that a shitty job often turns it into a sublime game.
There have been dodgeball-themed video games before, but none infused with the comic book physicality of Knockout City, a competitive online game backed by the creators of Fifa. Played in a series of high-rise arenas, two teams of three launch a variety of futuristic-looking projectiles at each other in an effort to hit their opponents’ bodies, while catching or dodging incoming balls. Two strikes to a player and your team loses a point. First in 10 wins the round.
With air strokes, ballet pirouettes, and the ability to curl into a ball for a teammate to throw, this is a long shot from the official sport that hopes, one day, to enter the Olympics. However, the games are just as tense and competitive, with plenty of chances to show off. However, no competitive online game in 2021 can simply be a competitive online game and, like Fortnite et al, Knockout City has a full superstructure of unlockable items and progress meters, with a view to turning the game into a lasting entertainment platform. Whether or not it hits that elusive target, underneath the capitalist shell this is a wonderful game.
Star Ratings (out of five):
Knockout City ★★★★
(PowerWash Simulator is early access so it is unrated)
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism