Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 Review: (un)screw life!

Let’s start with few premises here, shall we? I am a backseat gamer since the age of 5, but I never gamed on PC until recently: I am the epitome of anxious and “competitive games” makes me spiral into cold sweats, so I tend to stick with simulation games and slow-peace platformers.
That said, you now get exactly what to expect of me: chill games, meant to spend the time with good vibes without rush or complexity (still struggling with keyboard and mouse mechanics here, but be patient, I will eventually learn).

And that is why I want to share with you one of my unwinding favorites as of today: Car Mechanic Simulator 2021, a first-person simulator that -as the name suggests- revolves around building/restoring cars. Before deciding this is not for you, bear with me for a second, because you may be surprised by why I think this game is an excellent choice for some mindless relaxing.
The obvious question would be: am I into cars? Fairly surprisingly the answer is not much, to be honest. Then why I like this game so much? I have three answers for it, so let’s dive into it!

" Bring art to life from a pile of rust. "

Restoration is so damn fulfilling: getting a piece of trash (no offense to the cars, but some of them start pretty rough) and transforming it to a beautiful and customized work of art to display proudly or sell for more funds is just utterly satisfying. The hunts in the junkyard for destroyed cars, pieces or bodyparts add a very strong scavenger’s feeling to it. If you are a fan of dumpster diving in the Sims 4 for example, you would love it as much as I do. To boot, the whole process of renovating cars is really made easy with the progressive building that shows you what object should fit next on your build after you mount each piece. Surely this little help can be turned off in the settings -when picking the difficulty- to add a bit of a challenge for all the mechanics out there, but as I said I’m going for mindless unwind, so I find it contributing a lot to it.

The second reason would be for me the atmosphere flow while working on a project: the music is incredible, spawning from very relaxed, to songs that build some hype while you work. While I really enjoy playing with the original soundtrack, in the game there is also the option to add your own songs to work to, which makes it a tailored experience to you with the exact atmosphere you would like. Plus, the garage noises weirdly add to the chill atmosphere of the game: who knew unscrewing bolts would be so oddly hypnotic?

And last but not least, I am really appreciative of the freedom this simulator leaves you to always decide what to do, at your own peace, with a lot of cool possibilities in the form of all the different mechanics you can go for.
Need funds? Your mechanic orders will provide that with fairly contained expenses, and that’s the best way to build up skills and a good budget for the projects to come.

" You are always in charge of gameplay and mood. "

Every order is randomly-generated and a combination of skills required to complete it, so make sure you have what it takes to take on the job and deliver! The best ones to level up are for sure the story orders -even if they require a lot of time and some good money to be completed- or order with a bonus, either in experience or payout.
But maybe you want a Rags to Riches renovation once you have some bucks in your pockets? Try your chances with the junkyard and the little pearls it has to offer, or pick a salvage auction to acquire for an affordable price the car you want without losing time. It will take a bit of time, money and parts (God bless the runs at the junkyard) to polish your new car for your own collection or for sale, but it will be well worth it.
If you want less work and are more oriented to the final result, try to explore barns to uncover cars in good condition or take part in a normal auction. Less hassle for sure, but remember that better quality calls for more front cash. To sum it up, you really end up with kind of unlimited options to decide how much time and resources you want to dedicate to every job.

More content can be added through the Steam Workshop.

Another really cool aspect that I would though consider a side benefit of this game is the fact that, with the Steam Workshop items, you can add even more cars to your game for free and expand your collection with very fancy pieces! Some models are just insanely good, some may be a bit more patchy when you get down to the single components, but to be fair they all look so nice and add even more content for you to play with. Not like it’s imperative to use this chance, afterall you already have more than 4000 unique parts and over 72 cars to work with even on the base game only.

The franchise of Car Mechanic Simulator has been around for a very long time and the spirit of it hasn’t changed even in this last title, but this one has in my opinion some major improvements.
Interesting new features have been added to convey more realism and option to this very successful title, like the introduction of fluids and electronics for the cars (if you want to deep dive in the world of electronic vehicles the Electric Car DLC really takes it to next level), the Carwash, the brake lathe tool, the Paint Booth for the customization of single parts and the minigames for scraps and repairs…and honestly much more.

Furthermore, I am very, very happy they changed the scaling and upgrade system in this year’s title, because I remember my experience on Car Mechanic Simulator 2018 as a real grind to rank up to level 20 experience, where I could unlock the ability to repair bodyparts and finally start a full renovation. On CMS2021 you will now have two distinct branches of upgrades, and each uses a different parameter: garage upgrades will require for you to spend currency (CR) to unlock new machinery and instruments, while skills and abilities will require you to reach certain level of experience (XP) to skill gain points, then spent on skill upgrades. I find this dynamic to be way more realistic with how a real garage would work, and way less grindy concerning the gameplay.
Another add I really like, and this was a conflicting point for some, is the reflexes based mini-games that determine now the result of a repair, or the amount of scraps you get from disposing a piece in your inventory. I find them fun and different, plus it integrates the realistic concept in the game that despite all the best efforts of a player, there are some things that simply cannot be saved.

Overall the only weak point I find on this game, and trust me is just a tiny trivial thing compared to all the good stuff it offers, is related to one of the new features added: the fluids system. While on mounting and disassembling mode the camera can be panned around obstacles in your field of view, that is not true while you’re adding liquids to your cars, resulting in stuff in the way when you deal with big engines or oddly placed reservoirs. Also the game does not limit the amount of fluids you can put into the car, or penalize you for overfilling the components. I wished they added some fees for cleaning up, like it happens for old oil or coolant liquid spilled on the garage’s floor.

I really love this game, I think it is the perfect balance of having enough choices to keep you hooked with its options and enough freedom to pick your own gameplay, objectives, and peace. If you are a cars’ enthusiast, there’s no better way to enjoy cars than this. And even if you really don’t mind them too much, this game will really give you a great, relaxing time. A must have in every chill gaming library.

  • Unwindly Euphoric

    " One of the best simulators out there, with enough content and variety to always give you a nice chill time over the sounds of the garage. "

    A must pick up for all the fans of the genre, you'll be glad you did!

    • Gameplay
    • Optimization
    • Art Direction
    • Sound Direction
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