I can’t think of any jobs that I’ve not covered in the sim world. Bus driving, train driving, shopkeeping, and of course being a mad deer causing havoc – us gamers have had the chance to do it all. So it’s no great surprise that now we get the chance to run and maintain our very own gas station.
Now in the UK, we have petrol stations, and Gas Station Simulator is far removed from managing a BP off the M4. But rather – much more atmospherically – we are found running one of those cool-looking gas stations in the middle of the desert; a place that is dying to be held up by fugitives on the run. But can you deliver the goods to the gas-guzzling members of the public?
What’s nice about Gas Station Simulator from the off is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, reminding a little of the recent sim game Barn Finders. You start the game driving along a desert highway and then pull into a mess of a gas station, one that is closed and needs a lot of work done to it. The story isn’t the main focus but it involves your uncle who seems to invest in your enterprise and isn’t happy when you don’t pay your bills.
Gas Station Simulator’s first hour plays out as a nice little introduction to what you’re going to do in the game. It’s all delivered in the first person with a control system that needs a little getting used to and doesn’t feel quite natural; at least to begin with. The game makes you do some recycling and cleaning up of the gas station, picking up rubbish and throwing it into the dumpsters. You then power up the station and get access to the computer before using the little money you have to order some fuel. Then you can open up and let the customers come driving in.
There is a lot to do in Gas Station Simulator and the range of tasks on offer keeps the game feeling fresh and unique throughout. There does become a point when it feels like you are juggling many different tasks at the same time and it becomes a bit overwhelming, but I think that statement is true for many sim games.
The cleaning aspects of the game will appeal to fans of House Flipper, as the OCD aspects kick in and you have to get that gas station spotless at all times. But mostly, you get to deliver fuel to customers who pull up at the station – and they can be quite an unusual crowd at times; some of which will make you smile. Fuelling requires the partaking of a little mini-game, as does repairing cars later on. You will also need to make sure you have all the shop fully repaired, and shelves stacked full of goods. Inventory management is required of you skill-wise and it’s here where you’ll learn to manage your money. You will get a loan, there’s no avoiding it, and if you don’t pay it back Uncle and his goons might wreak havoc. Thankfully, you can also start hiring and firing employees if you build them some facilities as well to help the burden.
I have to also mention a little kid that keeps painting obscene graffiti on the garage walls for you to clean and a nice little mini-game that sees you driving a little remote control car around a checkpoint course.
Like all sim games there does get a point where Gas Station Simulator becomes quite repetitive and a bit overwhelming. I think that’s where the true die-hard sim fans will carry on and relish the challenge and other fly-by-nighters will turn off.
Visually the game isn’t going to wow the current-gen fans. It’s not a bad-looking game but it looks like all the other sim games we’d have played over the last few years. Occasionally there are some glitchy moments, but nothing to get your pants in a twist about and on the whole I like the cartoony feel of the world, its menus and UI, both of which are quite easy to use. The soundtrack is nice too, helping you along on your gas-supplying journey. Always through with sim games, I seem to provide my own music while working away.
Gas Station Simulator is most definitely one for the genre fans; those who love to toll and juggle the many different tasks presented to them. But if you are new to the sim world and fancy something a bit different this might be a good one to ease yourself in with. It has a fun vibe and doesn’t take itself too seriously, with a good tutorial helping ease the pain. It might start to drag after a while, but equally you may well enjoy your time pumping gas, managing a shop, and trying to stop your damn Uncle from wrecking your little empire.
Gas Station Simulator is on the Xbox Store