Gas Station Simulator Review: Blood, Sweat & Sand (PS5)

In this world, there is a saturation of simulation games, big and small. Recently, Pressure washing simulator invaded the screens of many players. There seems to be a subtle delight in simulating real-world tasks and a rush of serotonin to the brain when we finally find this latest species of dirt and propel it into oblivion. Gas station simulator is one of those games. Already available on Steam, the game now has a console release.

The game takes it to the next level compared to others. Rather than focusing on one task in various environments, you have to complete many tasks every day to earn money and keep your new desert oasis green. That’s unless you want another taste of your uncle’s retribution. So can Gas station simulator take the throne as the next number one simulation game? Maybe not, but it’s still great fun to play.

Gas station simulator is available on PS5 and PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Steam, and Switch for $19.99.

Arrival at the Dust Bowl

Arrival at the Dust Bowl

Story: Welcome to the Dust Bowl

“Buy and restore a gas station in the middle of nowhere,” reads the caption on the launch screen as a sweet guitar melody plays in the background. This single phrase captures the whole essence of this game – a simulation game where you have to perform a variety of tasks and restores to get your new gas station up and running. The story itself is meager. In fact, most take place within the first hour or so of gameplay.

You sell your car to buy a run-down gas station in the middle of nowhere. Through a series of communications with your uncle, you learn to take care of the gas station, begin to restore it, and reopen it to the public. And when you can’t pay it back in time (a scripted failure), your uncle makes sure you pay somehow. And that’s all. No really, that’s all. Of course, that’s to be expected. This is a simulation game and the lack of story is actually a good thing. The object of the game is to complete tasks, and any engaging story would not only be shocking, but would also detract from the object of the game: restoring your gas station in the middle of nowhere!

Photo of the gas pumping mini-game

Photo of the gas pumping mini-game

Gameplay: A little dusty

From the beginning, Gas station simulator Cleverly uses the minor story arc between your character and his uncle to frame the tasks at hand. When you arrive, you receive a call from your uncle. He congratulates you and warns you that there is a lot of work to be done. But through a series of email communications, you learn how to accomplish several key tasks such as cleaning, painting, collecting trash, pumping gas, and stocking your shelves. Once the tutorial is complete and the Dust Bowl is open to the public, these tasks become your daily routine.

Initially, I found myself addicted. For an hour, with focus and dedication, I cleaned up every piece of trash, ripped wood planks from my windows, and made sure everything was spotless. However, as the days passed, the stains began to fade. Although there was a variety of things to do, the repetition slowly took its toll and I got bored. The only thing that would excite me was an upgrade where I could add a new location or decor to my gas station. But even then, they quickly lost their appeal and faded into day-to-day repetition.

Photo of the party bus

Photo of the party bus

Stimulation and party bus

That being said, the progression at which you can unlock upgrades suits the nature of the gameplay very well. Throughout, you face big challenges to unlock the next iteration of your gas station. The challenges looked like this – tough. I was able to stay engrossed in the tasks, keeping a close eye on the counters as they slowly increased, waiting for the next update to come out. It was almost real. As if the game was able to capture the feeling of having to work hard to achieve your goals instead of handing them over to you.

Gas station simulator also has a popularity meter. You can increase it by serving customers in a timely and accurate manner. As you do, you get more and more business and soon find yourself running from building to building. Fix this car. Go pump some gas. Call that line of customers. Rinse and repeat. I loved that 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 when monotony almost set in. Also, keep your shelves stocked and watch out for party buses! You never know when you’ll have to serve a line of 15 people in clown costumes.

Brooms and bugs

The last aspect of gameplay that was pretty pervasive was the bugs. Now it’s not Cyberpunk 2077 launch level glitches, but there were a few that continued throughout my gameplay. While for some players bugs can be a deterrent, I found the ones I encountered at times endearing and humorous. For example, sometimes NPCs would come out of the gas station and just go back to their cars. Other times, my employee (whom I reluctantly hired) would get stuck by my gas tank and run in place for her entire shift before heading back to her trailer to rest.

Throwing physics can also get funky at times. I picked up a garbage bag to throw it away, and although it was “in my hand”, it remained on the floor. I would have to “put it down” and pick it up 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 has never ceased to amaze me. Try it and thank me later.

The Dust Bowl at dusk

The Dust Bowl at dusk

Graphics and sound: basic but ambient

I was pleasantly surprised by the graphics of Gas station simulator. Sometimes I often found myself gazing up at the sky during a sunrise or sunset to take in the band of colors above my head. The atmosphere of the game was also pleasant. I enjoyed how it was getting dark and you could almost feel things getting colder. The warm, dim lighting of the gas station against the dark desert night gave a soothing ambiance to the gameplay. As for the character models, they were less than impressive. Of course, it’s unrealistic to expect 1000 different and unique characters in a game centered around the customers frequenting your gas station. Even knowing that, seeing the same person over and over broke my immersion slightly, but it didn’t necessarily hurt my overall experience.

As for the sound, it was pretty 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 sound effects as well as environmental sounds like traffic and sound of the desert all around you. Although basic, these tunes and the sounds of the world around me helped create an ambient environment. My favorite sounds in the game were honestly the guitar riff that plays whenever you upgrade your gas station and the whoot sound every time you throw something.

Gas station simulator was reviewed on PS5 with a code provided by PR Outreach.

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