Lawn Mowing Simulator Review (Xbox Series) – A Cut Above
A serene yet engaging experience, Lawn Mowing Simulator is your next simulator fix. The Finger Guns Review.
There’s a reasonably high probability that you’ve arrived at this Lawn Mowing Simulator review from a review/news aggregation site and you already know the review score at the bottom of this page. There’s an equally high likelihood that before you read this sentence, you had scrolled to the bottom of this review, have seen the review score and returned here to find out how in the hell a game about mowing grass got an 8/10 score. Trust me – I’m as surprised as you are. I hate mowing my lawn. It’s easily my most hated household chore. Imagine my shock then when I sat playing – and enjoying – Skyhook Games’ Lawn Mowing Simulator till the early hours of the morning without even noticing.
Lawn Mowing Simulator falls into that sweet spot of the ‘Simulator’ genre. It’s not a tongue-in-cheek ‘simulator’ like Goat or Surgeon Simulator. Nor is it overly complicated or boringly realistic like Sensible Train Spotting or its ilk. It sits in that middle ground that manages to gamify mundane tasks, keeping aspects of reality while making them easy to accomplish. This game stands alongside Construction Sim, PC Building Simulator and House Flipper, transcending the innate boredom of the tasks they’re based to create a zen like experience.
Burn the midnight soil
At the core of Lawn Mowing Simulator is a career mode. Here you can create your own mowing business (in my case, ‘FingerGun Ferns’), even going as far to customise the logo and colour of the uniform. You begin your business with a basic HQ, a single ride-on mower and a single customised employee with which to take on and complete mowing jobs. This first employee is essentially the player-character which you’ll be controlling throughout the game.
The mowing jobs are set around a variety of idyllic country settings with various outdoor setups . Some locations are traditional gardens with flower beds and garden furniture. Others look like outdoor modern art galleries. The more jobs you complete, the higher your reputation rises, the bigger the variety and challenge of jobs on offer. This system gives the game a decent amount of variety. You will start to see repetition eventually but this plays into the overall concept as they appear as repeat customers.
Each job in Lawn Mowing Simulator comes with an objective. The primary aim is to mow a target percentage of the grass in each level to a target length as dictated by the customer. For example, you might be asked to mow down 99.5% of the grass to a length of 7cm. By hitting this objective, you’ll receive the maximum pay out sans any penalties you accrue. You can be penalised for destroying a plant which usually line the borders of a lawn, damaging the ground by turning the mower on maximum turn for extended periods or simply driving into things like walls or furniture.
Before you get to begin you’re mowing, each job begins with a ground check. Here you navigate the outdoor space via a first person view, looking for a set number of items you’ll need to pick up before mowing. Hidden among the grass are rakes, stones, Frisbees and other items which you can remove before tackling the grass. Or, you can simply forgo this step and just mow over these items, getting yourself a penalty and damaging up your mower in the process. It’s your call of course but you’d be daft not to pick up those precious garden gnomes before you get cutting. Once that’s done, you can hop on your lawn mower and get to work.
Mo’ mowers, mow problems
This is where the ‘simulator’ aspect of this game begins. Lawn Mowing Simulator has 12 different real world mowers digitally recreated. I can’t comment on how accurate these digital mower models are because I doubt I’ve ever been within 6 meters of a Toro, STIGA and SCAG mower. To the untrained, mower hater such as myself, they look great. There’s different types of mower too, from rear grass collectors to those with mulching decks that shred the grass so it doesn’t need collecting. Each mower has their own strength and weakness which are highlighted in different environments. For example, the fast, powerful and highly customisable Groundsmaster 3300 will make light work of big open spaces but it’s no good for tight gardens with intricate channels because of its massive 152cm cutting deck. One wrong turn and it’ll chew up a flower bed before you can say “oh sod”.
No matter which mower you choose, there has been some concerted effort put in here to make it feel like you’re starting up a real mower. Holding down an X button to kick it in. Raising the revs with the D pad. Dropping and lifting the cutting deck. Changing the cut length. Having never sat my ample rear end on a ride-on mower, I can’t confirm if this feels realistic or not. Even for a mower newbie like myself though, the game makes me feel like I’m going through a process that gives this a simulator feel.
Then it’s onto the mowing itself which is far more involved than it looks on the surface. The lawns in Lawn Mowing Simulator have blades of grass on them. This might sound like a stupid observation to make but with many simulator games, performing ground work simply changes one texture for another. In this game, you can see the grass and as you mow it, the grass shortens as well as taking a lighter shade. True to life, a lawn won’t all be entirely the same length either. Early on in the game with the less powerful mowers, you’ll have to balance your engine effort and speed to ensure you’re not overdoing it when suddenly coming to a patch of grass which is longer, thus more difficult to mow. You can’t just put your foot down on the accelerator and whip all the grass off. It has to be more measured and restrained so you can keep the mower going for longer.
Over time, the mower blades will dull and the engine will need work. You’ll also have to keep your mowers topped up with fuel. All of this costs money. This all feeds into the career path. Take on jobs to earn money, use that money to maintain your mowers so that you can continue to earn. As you start to build up a nice profit, you can expand your business. You can buy new HQ’s or upgrade your existing one so that it can house more mowers. As your reputation grows, you can hire staff too who can head out to a job while you’re working on another. It’s not exactly a challenging loop and at no point are you likely to feel financially unequipped to move forward, but it’s a nice leisurely hook to keep the player engaged.
So Very Grass-ifying
Outside of the career mode, Lawn Mowing Simulator also has a Free Roam mode and a series of challenges. The challenges unlock alongside your progress in the career mode. These offer a more strenuous test than anything else in the game. They pit the player against a set of circumstances like limited time or fuel with which to get the job done. These aren’t exactly taxing but it does make you think more deeply about the way you’re mowing a lawn. If you’re tight on fuel, you’ve really got to make the most of the size of your deck and the movement, for example. As the name might suggest, Free Roam lets you mow without any predetermined conditions. You can just bumble around a grassy knoll, mowing till your heart’s content.
It’s the serene vibe of Lawn Mowing Simulator which is its biggest strength. While on a job, there’s no music. You’re alone in quiet, open contry spaces that are quite pleasing on the eye. Off in the background are birds chirping, maybe the occasional kid playing in the background, a rare car driving nearby. It’s so peaceful. Of course, as soon as you kick in a mower, that peace is disturbed but it’s replaced by a near constant buzz of white noise. There’s an indescribable sedation that comes from the sound of a lawn mower after a time. This is no word of a lie – my wife has fallen asleep on the couch several times while in the same room as me while playing this game. That might sound like a criticism but the tranquil game play and chilled atmosphere make for such an easy game to get lost in. As previously mentioned, I’ve started to play Lawn Mowing Simulator in the early afternoon and by the next time I check the clock, it’s almost time for breakfast. I got totally engrossed in cutting grass and forming patterns in the lawn as I spiral around it.
Even outside of the game play, Lawn Mowing Simulator understands the genre it’s in. That totally inoffensive backing music you find in almost all simulator games? That’s present and correct too.
Lawn Mowing Simulator does have a few niggles that need to be mentioned. When walking around a garden in the first person mode, the frame rate can be a bit choppy, even on an Xbox Series. The frame rate while driving a mower is silky smooth however. I imagine the frame rate suffers because you’re able to run around in the garden much faster than a lawnmower can travel. I also have to mention the font size. If your eyes aren’t what they used to be, you might want to pull your chair forward to play this game. Some of the default text size was too small for my aging eyes from across my living room.
A few niggles aside, Lawn Mowing Simulator is another game in the blossoming sim genre that takes workaday tasks and manages to create a zen, ASMR-esque experience that transcends boredom. This game certainly has a niche and won’t be for everyone but it might surprise you with how equally innocuous and engaging it is at the same time. Even for someone who hates mowing their lawn, I found this title to be enjoyable. If you’re looking for a new simulator in the same vein as Farming Simulator, House Flipper or Euro Truck, this certainly could be it.
Lawn Mowing Simulator is available now on Xbox Series S | X (review platform) and PC.
Developer: Skyhook Games
Publisher: Curve Digital
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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