Do I really have to mow the lawn? It’s such a crap job. Confession: hay fever makes this pretty much impossible so I don’t do it. But if I could without sneezing my head off, I’d hate it. So why then, do I love Lawn Mowing Simulator?
The ‘Simulator’ games are usually a bit of a head-scratcher. They do what it says on the tin, and sort of doing the job mostly – you can expect a reasonably mundane experience and usually a lack of polish. What they do have though is a repetitive gameplay loop that exhibits an almost zen-like quality. Some are less so than others, but Lawnmower Simulator taps into this and doubles down on it, recognizing that it’s just a rather lovely experience. And builds a game around it.
The concept is pretty simple. You’re starting a lawnmowing company. You name it, and every day pick a lawn to mow. The size and complexity factor into how much you get paid. Earn more money, expand your business. Repeat.
What’s cool though is everything around it. Rock up to your first lawn, and it (and all actually) are set in quaint English locations. A serene, chilled, environment, birds singing, cars passing by occasionally. Before you cut, you have to scout the lawn and pick up obstacles – things like an odd branch, a kids toy, etc. Things that will bugger up your lawnmower. You have limited time to do this and get a bonus for doing it within the time limit – not exactly like real-life, well, unless you ‘make a game of it’ to make your day more interesting. Which I would.
Then you cut. The mowers can lower or raise their cutting blades so you don’t mess it up driving across the pavement as you leave your trailer. Engage blades and it’s showtime. Make sure you get the right cutting length though. And then the grass all falls, from its outlandish, overgrown state to nice and trimmed, tidy and ready for playing on.
An overlay can be activated to show bits you’ve missed – and with more money awarded for quicker jobs, you’re going to try to get the maximum efficiency out of the cuts. Smashing your mower into stuff will get you a fine (and some damage to your gear) as well will driving over a set of prized flowers. In the end, you see a bit of a ‘score summary’ which outlines your bonuses and penalties. Then it’s on to the next lawn the next day after you refuel and fix your mower.
It’s just so chilled. It really clicked for me as I’m doing one lawn, and move to first-person view so I could properly monitor my cutting. I thought I saw a weird graphical effect, looked up and it was someone walking past the garden fence by the side of the road, next to where I was cutting. I got off my mower, walked over, and saw many people walking about, cars driving past. These little details are really effective.
Occasionally you’ll get a curveball. Some grass is really long, so will require a few pass overs of variable cutting height to get it to where you need it to be (or cut it much slower). Someone may want stripes in their grass cutting in. Maybe it’s raining (which I find makes it a bit easier to cut). There’s enough variety here with a vast number of gardens and locations to keep things interesting, but it’s less about the variety I think. It’s more about zoning out, relaxing; having something to actually do whilst doing nothing yourself. And a sense of accomplishment at the end.
I hope it’s a hit. The demo earlier this summer seemed popular on Xbox and PC – and if the official Discord is anything to go by, it will be big. I hadn’t appreciated the subculture of lawnmowing enthusiasts, who post photos of their lawns and equipment, and all of the complexity in mowing (do you mulch the grass? Remember to pick up any clippings!).
The more money you earn, you can hire more staff which means more grass cut each day, which means more money. Better mowers mean quicker jobs too, which means more money, and better premises. The gameplay loop is simple, but the relaxing quality of it all means that even when you come back to a garden you’ve already mowed (grass grows, after all) it doesn’t feel repetitive in a bad way.
I can’t believe I’m writing this but yes, I would recommend Lawn Mowing Simulator. My friends think it’s hilarious. A game, about mowing a lawn?! How lame! Is it? Is it though? I direct them to some videos, and they’ve all come back wondering, it just might be fun. I can assure you it is. Sure, it’s not a white knuckle ride. But that’s not really what you want. What you want, is a nicely mowed lawn. Mmmm.
Reviewed on Xbox Series X