In this world, there is a saturation of simulator games–big and small. Recently, Power Wash Simulator has taken over the screens of many gamers. There seems to be a subtle pleasure in simulating real world tasks and a rush of serotonin to the brain when we finally find that last spec of dirt and blast it into oblivion. Gas Station Simulator is among these games. Already being available on Steam, the game is now enjoying a console release.
The game takes it to the next level compared to others. Rather than focusing on one task in diverse environments, you must complete many tasks each day to earn money and keep your new desert oasis in the green. That is unless you want another taste of retribution from your uncle. So, can Gas Station Simulator take the throne as the next number one simulator game? Maybe not, but it’s still a heck of a lot of fun to play.
Gas Station Simulator is available on PS5 and PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Steam, and Switch for $19.99.
Story: Welcome to the Dust Bowl
“Buy and restore a gas station in the middle of nowhere,” reads the caption on the launch screen while a gentle guitar melody plays in the background. This single phrase captures the whole essence of this game–a simulator game in which you must complete a variety of tasks and restorations to get your new gas station up and running. The actual story is scant. In fact, most of it takes place in the first hour or so of gameplay.
You sell your car to purchase a dilapidated gas station in the middle of no where. Through a series of communications with your uncle, you learn how to take care of the gas station, begin restoring it, and how to reopen it to the public. And when you can’t repay him in time (a scripted failure), your uncle ensures you pay one way or another. And that’s it. No really–that’s it. Of course, this is to be expected. This is a simulator game and the lack of story is actually a good thing. The point of the game is to complete tasks, and any heady storyline would not only be jarring, but would also detract from the point of the game–to restore your gas station in the middle of nowhere!
Gameplay: A Bit Dusty
From the beginning, Gas Station Simulator cleverly uses the minor story arch between your character and their uncle to tutorialize the tasks at hand. Upon arriving, you receive a call from your uncle. He congratulates you and warns you there is a lot of work ahead. But through a series of email communications, you learn how to complete several key tasks such as cleaning, painting, collecting garbage, pumping gas, and stocking your shelves. Once the tutorial is over, and the Dust Bowl is open to the public, these tasks become your day-to-day life.
Initially, I found myself hooked. For an hour, with focus and dedication, I cleaned up every single piece of trash, tore wooden boards from my windows, and made sure everything was spotless. However, as the days passed the tasks began to loose their luster. While there is a variety of things to do, the repetition slowly took its toll and I got bored. The only thing that would get me excited was an upgrade in which I could add a new venue or new decor to my gas station. But even then, they quickly lost their appeal and faded away into the repetition of the day to day.
Pacing and Party Busses
All that being said, the progression at which you can unlock upgrades suits the nature of the gameplay very well. Throughout, you are met with hefty challenges to unlock the next iteration of your gas station. The challenges felt like just that–challenging. I was able to keep myself engrossed in tasks, keeping a watchful eye on the counters as they slowly increased, waiting for the next upgrade to become available. It felt almost real. As if the game was able to capture the feeling of having to work hard to achieve your goals instead of having them just handed to you.
Gas Station Simulator also has a popularity meter. You can increase it by serving customers in a timely and accurate manner. In doing so you get more and more business and soon find yourself running around from building to building. Repair this car. Go pump gas. Ring this line of customers up. Rinse and repeat. I loved this aspect of the gameplay. I almost didn’t progress in the game because I didn’t want to hire an employee to help me. The fast paced nature really helped me stay engaged at times where the monotony almost took hold. Also, keep your shelves stocked and watch out for party busses! You never know when you’ll need to serve a line of 15 people in clown costumes.
Brooms and Bugs
The last aspect of gameplay that was quite pervasive were the bugs. Now this is no Cyberpunk 2077 launch level of glitches, but there were a few that continued throughout my gameplay. While for some players bugs may be a deterrent, I actually found the ones I encountered to be endearing and humorous at times. For example, sometimes NPCs would exit the gas station and just glide back to their cars. Other times, my employee (that I did hire begrudgingly) would just get stuck near my gas tank and run in place for the entirety of her shift before heading back to her trailer to rest.
The physics of tossing could also get funky at times. I would grab a trash bag to throw away, and despite being “in my hand” it would stay on the ground. I would have to “put it down” and pick it up again to actually hold it. But my favorite bug I found was the broom. In the game, you have a broom to tidy up your gas station, but you can also use it to sweep cars. This one never stopped cracking me up. Try it out and thank me later.
Graphics & Sound: Basic but Ambient
I was pleasantly surprised with the graphics of Gas Station Simulator. At times, I often found myself looking up to the sky during a sunrise or sunset to enjoy the swath of colors overhead. The atmosphere of the game was enjoyable as well. I enjoyed the way the night would fall and you could almost feel things cool off. The dim, warm lighting of the gas station against the dark desert night imparted a calming vibe on the gameplay. As for the character models, they were less than impressive. Of course, it’s not realistic to expect 1000 different, unique characters in a game centered around customers frequenting your gas station. Even knowing that, seeing the same person again and again did break my immersion slightly, but it didn’t necessarily detract from my overall experience.
As for the sound, it was fairly minimal. The guitar track on the loading screen and your radio at the cash register are really the only music tracks in the game. In terms of sound design, there were of course some sound effects as well as some environmental sounds like traffic and the sound of the desert all around you. While basic, these tunes and the sounds of the world around me did help craft an ambient environment. My personal favorite sounds in the game were honestly the guitar riff that plays every time you upgrade your gas station and the whoot sound anytime you throw something.
Gas Station Simulator was reviewed on PS5 with a code provided by PR Outreach.
Glitchy physics – Love me some glitchy physics. It’s what made Skyrim so LOL
Character and object bugs – as above
Repetitive – I personally enjoy repetitive games sometimes, when I need to tune out. As long as the loop and progression are satis.
In short, your bad points make me want to play this game!
This game is totally worth it just to move the cars around with the broom honestly… and definitely agree about Skyrim! I don’t think I want to live in a word where Skyrim functions 100% of the time