Developer: DRAGO Entertainment
Release Date: September 15, 2021
At this point, it seems like you can find a simulator for just about anything you might feel like doing, no matter how mundane it might seem. In truth, Gas Station Simulator wasn’t a game that particularly excited me, and I expected to dutifully put in an hour and then forget I owned it. Although I enjoy simulators, it’s rare for me to find one I can’t seem to put down.
Now, the start of the game isn’t particular compelling, even compared to your average tutorial-style introduction. You’re presented with tasks one at a time to get your new gas station restored and running. You’ll take the boards off the doors and windows, get the power hooked up, and clean up the sand pile blocking your fuel pumps. Some of the early tasks feel pretty tedious, but you see progress pretty quickly.
You get a pretty steady supply of emails, which can be referenced at any time if you forget how to do certain tasks once you’ve completed them the first time, but mostly, the computer is used for scheduling deliveries, ordering supplies, and upgrading your station. As you progress, more mini-game style activities are added to the things you need to do whenever the station is open – so far, I’m pumping gas, ringing up snacks and drinks for customers, and fixing flat tires and broken mirrors for customers, in between accepting deliveries, keeping the place clean, and unlocking new parts of the station.
I was surprised how completely sucked in I was once I had a bunch of stuff to manage. I’ve just upgraded my gas station to level three, and I am desperately hoping that hiring an employee or two is in my near future. You see, there’s a reputation system, and the number of tasks I have to personally manage is teetering on the edge of untenable. For a simulation game, it feels more-than-occasionally frantic, and I am concerned I’m on the cusp of things starting to get frustrating.
Overall, I thought the game made running a gas station out in the middle of the California desert pretty interesting. The mini-games are more satisfying than irritating (although I don’t much love the one for painting over graffiti). If you’re the type that thrives on customization and decoration, there seems to be tons of options, but I’ve been doing the bare minimum and focusing on making money and upgrading my facilities. I can make it pretty later, if I decide to.
For me, Gas Station Simulator was probably one of the more successful of the recent batch of simulation games I’ve been trying out, and I’m likely to return to it when I have a little less on my plate.
While I still think of simulators as a niche genre, SteamDB estimates that Gas Station Simulator has sold between 291,900 and 802,800 copies on Steam. It was also included in the August 2022 Humble Choice bundle, but those still feel like pretty high sales for a simulator. It is ranked 755 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.