A few months ago, near the end of 2021, there was a lot of buzz around an indie game called Gas Station Simulator. The day after its release Gas Station Simulator rocketed to #3 on Steams list of Top Sellers, and is now sitting at #105. So what’s this game about? Is it any good?
Let’s start off with the basics: what is this game about? You have just purchased a run-down gas station in the middle of nowhere, and are tasked with getting it back up and running. You will first need to clean up the trash inside the building and turn on the power. After that you will need to start earning money to upgrade to a bigger, better station. How? By pumping gas, of course!
The art of selling Gasoline
Once you earn enough money from pumping gas, it’s time to upgrade and start selling products in the convenience store. It starts off simple with soda and snacks, but after some more upgrades, you can start selling liquor, car care supplies, pastries, toys, and more. Now that you’re pumping gas and selling products, you will need customers.
Customers will come on their own, but if you want more customers, your station will need to become more popular. To gain more popularity (and hence, customers), you will need to keep your station clean and customers happy (sweeping up dirty footprints, taking out the trash, and correctly completing orders in the mini-games).
Now that you have the convenience store and the gas running, it’s time to upgrade the mechanic’s shop. Similar to the convenience store, you will start out with simple products like replacing tires, but work your way up to replacing spark plugs, mirrors, batteries, and more. At this point, you will have a lot of things to do and may be getting a bit overwhelmed with all these tasks. What do you do? It’s time to hire employees!
You start out with 3, but can later upgrade to 5 employees. You can hire employees to clean the station, handle the register, pump gas, clean, and repair cars, while you sit back and relax by ordering gas, products, updating the station, and working while your employees are on break (your employees can only work 8 in-game hours. There are labor laws in video games too, you know. Even if all they do is smoke and drink alcohol).
The next and final thing you can unlock (as of this writing) is the car wash. You will need to use the pressure washing to clean off the dirt of each car while making sure the pressure level of the water stays in the green. You can do this by going into the sewer and cleaning the trash out of the pit where you collect your water, and feeding it to Gustave, the alligator. The first 4 upgrades increase the available pressure of the water, while the 5th upgrade turns it into an automatic car wash (you still need to check the water pressure, though). Now your gas station basically runs itself!
What about the gameplay and the NPCs? The gameplay, mechanics, NPCs, and mini-games are all pretty simple. The NPCs only say 1 of a few phrases but there is a fairly wide variety of character models and cars that they drive and things can get pretty glitchy. For example, if an NPC passes a trash can that’s full (which negatively affects your popularity), they will make a comment and just…sit down in mid-air like they are driving their car, and “drive” back to their car instead of walking. It’s more funny than it as an issue.
Like in older games, you can stand inside of a character and see the models for their tongue, eyes, etc (which is absolutely terrifying with today’s graphics). Also, sometimes cars will flip over and get stuck. Thankfully, the developers have included a button on the sign of the gas station that resets all cars and NPCs, by use of alien abduction. The gameplay is very straightforward. Interact with an item and it will give you instructions on what to do. The same is true for the mini-games.
All about the Broom
As an aside, I’d like to talk about a certain feature of the game. My personal favorite item in the game is the broom. Sweeping is fine, if not a little tedious, but that’s not what I’m talking about. A “feature” of the game is the ability to fling cars at top speed with the broom. I first noticed this when I had the broom equipped, and accidentally hit a car with the broom, and it moved as if it was weightless. “Did my broom move the car?” was my first thought. My second was “let’s test this out.”
I pulled my mouse and flicked it in the way a baseball player hits a ball, and the car rockets off into this distance. At first, I thought it was a glitch that the developers had yet to fix, but then I noticed a sign behind the warehouse. This sign had a diagram of a broom, and a car flying through the air. It’s not a glitch, it’s a feature, which is my favorite kind of feature.
I personally think this game is a ton of fun, but it’s definitely not for everyone. If you love simulator/management games, I’m sure you will enjoy this one. What’s better is that the developers are actively improving the games and adding features, like the car wash that was just added.
Gas station Simulator was released on September 15th, 2021, and is currently on sale on Steam for $15.99 (from $19.99), with an overall review of Very Positive.