Gas Station Simulator is janky but I can’t stop playing it

Stress dreams are my favorite kind of games. Something about being on the precipice of dying or just getting punched in the face — I find it all very motivating, in a Marie Kondo “I love mess” sort of way. Each task I complete is a reward for my lizard brain when the stakes are high. Gridlock me with an inexorable wave of these small to-do tasks, and I’ll be glued to my computer for hours like I did the last time I played FrostpunkUp to 3 a.m.

Gas Station SimulatorIt is a feverish dream that combines stress management elements with retro graphics, and an arcade feel. Its look and animation are pretty hideous, and the individual elements of gameplay don’t necessarily make for a fun game on their own. I also found only a few NPC characters that started recycling very early on my playthrough. However, I’ve spent hours on it. Gas Station Simulator regardless, practically glued to my computer chair in the desire to do “just one more task.”

It’s essentially about managing a gas station. But it’s also so much more.

Gas Station Simulator opens with a “gift” from your uncle — a decrepit gas station named Dust Bowl (yay you!) The road side off Route 66. The entire thing is rotting, with fly-infested garbage cans and without electricity. Wait! There’s also no gas, no shelves, and the bathroom doesn’t have a working toilet. The floor is also covered with dirt, which your customers will continue to track throughout their trips.

A gas station convenience shop floor covered in trash and litter

Image: Drago Entertainment

From there, it’s your job to revamp and manage this fixer-upper. You’ll start by clearing out the trash and adding a fresh coat of paint. You’ll order gas, pump said gas, stock your shelves, scan the items at the checkout line, and take out the trash. The game ramps up its intensity quickly, and you’re soon faced with questions of expansion. You will eventually be able to purchase additional areas such as a repair garage. This increases your profits, but also adds work.

These little jobs are all in all quite simple. Gas Station SimulatorIt is an extremely stressful game that can cause repetitive injuries. You must sell store merchandise by playing the minigame. This involves moving a conveyor belt and picking up an item. Then swipe it through the scanner to drop it in a basket. Scan flawlessly and you’ll get a tip — mess up and you lose money. Every cent counts, thanks to the game’s out-of-pocket, darker subplot — let’s just say your uncle’s “gift” came with some strings attached.

It’s a lot to keep track of. Pump, scan. Sweep. Paint. Answer any mysterious calls coming from the nearby payphone. Revivify the gas station or something else. Every so often the contractor’s menacing child, Dennis, shows up to fuck up your plans by spray painting “Dennis RuleZ” and “you suck” and the occasional penis with angel wings on the side of your gas station. You can see people dumping trash all over the place. Is it a stranger who approaches you with a bat and tries to throw trash on the floor?

A man at the cashier counter in a gas station convenience shop

Image: Drago Entertainment

There comes a point where it’s too much for one person, but you can’t hire any employees yet. Only 12 hours are left to repay the loan. Paying customers are coming in steadily and waiting lists are growing longer. On one hand, these customers don’t seem to mind waiting as you scramble to get it all done? If someone is looking for a way to make their life easier, Does get mad waiting, I’ve found a useful hack that involves raising someone’s car on the lift in the repair garage to prevent them from driving away. You can do that however you like.

I’m still in the early days of gameplay, but from what I’ve seen from on YouTube, it only gets more chaotic. What is the point of playing this game? My goal is to grow my gas station. Long answer: I’m hooked by the game’s unpredictable, seedy narrative twists and the need to beat all of my minigame high scores while keeping my customers (somewhat) happy.

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