|Platforms||PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S|
|Release Date||August 10th, 2021|
The simulator genre has risen in popularity over the years. Microsoft Flight Simulator paved the way for the genre and has recently made a comeback. We can go deeper with titles like Farming Simulator and Euro/American Truck Simulator. Then, possibly the most well-known in the genre is a parody—the infamous Goat Simulator. The genre continues to flourish with other obscure titles such as Cooking Simulator and Car Mechanic Simulator, begging the question: “Who buys these?” Even so, a new challenger enters the fray by the name of Lawn Mowing Simulator. Now, I know you didn’t ask, but this simulator game is a cut above the rest.
There is nothing to worry about here, folks. There isn’t any content to warn you about. Although, if you felt like it, I suppose you could angrily tear through customers’ flower beds or something. Killing plants is the closest thing you’ll get to any acts of violence in Lawn Mowing Simulator.
The premise of Lawn Mowing Simulator is a simple one. You begin a career mode by customizing your character, choosing a logo, and naming your own Lawn Mowing Business. The customization is very light, and there aren’t many logo options, but those things aren’t a significant factor in a person’s enjoyment of the game. The name I chose for my new lawn company is “Hero Cuts,” and I had two starting mowers to choose from before I started cutting. I went for the more old-school option when I should’ve got one with the better steering mechanics that I eventually purchased later. I was able to test out the mowers before making my decision and wasn’t ready yet for the advanced option. The developers also went the extra mile and got a handful of licensed manufacturers in the game for the audience that knows their mower brands.
Lawn Mowing Simulator shows excellent attention to detail when it comes to cutting grass and running a business. You’ll be accepting jobs that have varying degrees of difficulty and specific requirements to complete them. The essential requirement is that you cut the grass at the length your customer is asking for. You also won’t be able to leave the job unless you cut a certain percent of the yard, which ends up being close to 100% anyway. Lastly, there is a recommended time to complete a yard to earn a cash bonus. Hitting that recommended time is optional, but it was a great goal for me to reach if I wanted to improve my grass-cutting skills. So, now that I’ve explained the primary objective, it’s time to tell you about the gameplay.
The first thing you’ll do when starting a contract is the Groundcheck phase. During that phase, you’ll have to pick up a set number of items off the ground so that you don’t run over them when cutting the yard. If you can get everything within that time limit, you’ll earn some extra cash. On occasion, you might find an additional item lying around that makes you more money, which is considered a lost valuable. A nice thing about the ground check is that it should help players get familiar with the yard and gives off a great first impression of the visual presentation. The yards are the star of the show here, and the grass is rightfully the most detailed aspect.
After getting the yard cleaned up, it is time to start cutting. You can hit that recommended time or go at your own pace, but make sure not to damage the customer’s flowers or property—you’ll lose money. The gameplay is zen-like, thanks to the ambient noise of the outdoors and the mower’s roar. I’d throw on some lo-fi hip-hop and zone out as I was getting the job done. Depending on the contract and the mower, a job can take up to an hour in real-time. The game will leave it up to the player to develop a strategy to get the job done. This experience might sound boring to most people, but I was hooked after a few contracts and some real-world advice from family members. I wanted to hit that recommended time and got closer as I improved with every job I completed.
The biggest problem I had with the game was a very significant bug. Occasionally, I would start a contract, and the grass would not cut. I would hop off the mower and try to change the blades, but that didn’t work. I tried to quit the contract and go back to it, but that didn’t work either. I eventually closed the game out and started it up again, which fixed the problem. I’m not sure if the issue was exclusive to my Series S or whether it got patched, but it happened frequently enough that it was a noticeable issue. Despite the big, I still enjoy Lawn Mowing Simulator and appreciate the attention to detail that the developers have applied to the experience.
When I say attention to detail, there is plenty of it inside and out of the gameplay. For instance, when cutting a yard, you need to slow down when your blades are active because the engine can be overloaded. Another example is that you can damage the grass if you’re making too many turns in a particular spot, and the grass can be damaged more easily when cutting in lousy weather, so take it slow. Furthermore, if you’re using a mower without a mulcher, you’ll need to dump the grass in a bin when your container is full. You’ll need to pay attention to many of these details in career mode, but if you want to cut some grass without the worry, you can turn most of it off in the Free Mode.
Outside of gameplay, much detail goes into the business side of grass cutting. You’ll need to repair and refuel your mower if you want to keep going. Hiring more employees is an option if you’re going to grow your business. Still, you’ll also need to purchase a building upgrade to have more bays for more mowers at your HQ. It is also possible to take out loans if you need an extra push to afford repairs and make some big purchases. Though it doesn’t compare to running a real business, I feel like these features are an educational opportunity to teach players some basic skills. Again, all of this sounds like the opposite of entertainment, but I found it rather fascinating.
Aside from the career mode, you have two other options. Free Mode lets you pick a yard and change the settings and requirements to your liking. The other is a Challenge Mode that tests your skills in various scenarios. However, you’ll need to advance in the career mode and level up your reputation to unlock more yards and scenarios. So, these other two modes are more supplementary to the core experience than alternative ways to play the game. I chose not to attempt any of the scenarios as I was still learning the basics and came to the game for a more relaxing time instead of something stressful.
I didn’t know what to expect from a video game about cutting grass, but Lawn Mowing Simulator left me very impressed. This game can be as complex or as easy as you want it to be, and I was looking for the latter. The business aspect of the game feels like a great educational tool as you navigate what it would be like to own your own lawn care business as well. Aside from a few bugs, I believe that the developers have succeeded in making their passionate vision a reality. If the simulator genre is in your wheelhouse, this is one that you’ll want to add to your collection. It also might be an excellent gift for that casual gamer in your family or circle of friends.
Review copy generously provided by Renaissance PR
The Bottom Line
Lawn Moving Simulator sounds like it would be ultra boring, but it is a well-crafted and serene experience.