When you think you have seen everything in the broad diverse range of experiences in the simulation game genre, another unique title rotates its blades towards you. Lawn Mowing Simulator developed by Skyhook Games and published by Curve Digital arrives on the Xbox family of consoles on 10th August 2021.
If you’re a fan of simulator games like I am, then you’ve probably driven a train, flown a plane, power washed everything in sight and even lived the life of a goat. Now you have the delightful opportunity to enjoy a taste of British nature and countryside, inhale some pollen and run your own Lawn Mowing business. Bring your hay fever tablets, there’s going to be serious grass cutting going on here.
Building the foundations of your new company
From the outside looking in Lawn Mowing Simulator appears to be a game about cutting and maintaining areas of grass. You’d be right in thinking that, but it goes much much deeper than this. Similar to titles like Bus Simulator, here you’ll be tasked with building your own empire and monopoly in the turf world. Before you even hop on your ride on mower you’ll be prompted to name your company, design a logo and create your character.
Sadly, things were a little too basic here for my liking. Whilst you could name your trading company whatever you wish, there was only a selection of twelve different logos to choose from. Whilst these were nice and bold in appearance, I perhaps would have enjoyed creating my own insignia. Character models are limited to only twelve as well, but a fair mixture in ethnicity and gender. Uniform customisation was a little more varied, with a range of 50+ colours in which you could choose for your polo shirt and baseball cap. Lastly, if you wanted to embrace your company logo, you can opt to place it on the front and back of your shirt or simply leave things plain and simple.
This is just the start of your career!
You will start your career on the lawns with a choice of one of two models of mower to choose from. It is possible to test drive each of these if you’re not sure which one takes your fancy. This also doubles up as a tutorial and will teach you how to glide through overgrown grass with ultimate precision. Here you will learn how to activate the engine, manoeuvre the mower and set your cutting blades accurately. The control system is simple once you have these factors in place. The right trigger propels you in a forwards direction whilst the left puts you into a reverse motion. Once you have the basics in mind, you’re set to embark on getting your first few jobs under your belt and expand and grow your lawn shearing empire.
Lets get to work!
Like any new job, your initial progress is slow and you have to work hard for success. You’ll be given access to a few projects to start with, small garden areas with a few hundred British pounds as your financial reward. Before you even fire up your engine, you must complete a ground check of the area you’ll be looking after. You’re given a small limit to walk or even run around and collect items strewn across the lawn or hidden in the overgrown strands of grass. Items such as tennis balls, dog mess, old newspaper, garden tools and more need to be picked up, you don’t want them wrecking your blades or engine.
After this first stage where ample time is given, you then commence with the job in hand. Each project you attend has a set of requirements to achieve before your customer is satisfied. There is a completion target of usually around 99.5-99.9% on your cut. This essentially means that you must ensure almost every single blade of grass is cut to perfection. There is a recommended time limit to work towards, hitting this target keeps you in the running to earn the maximum amount of wages on offer.
How does it handle?
If you have ever cut grass in real life then you’ll know it’s a chore that is constantly brushed to one side until it needs to be done. When you get stuck in though, it is one of the more satisfying errands you can partake in. Lawn Mowing Simulator is no different, running your mower across the unkempt fields and gardens is rewarding. It is your choice as to how you approach getting it all done and dusted. I tried many tactics to get it done as quickly as possible – do you go up and down in lines to attempt that model lawn look, or go around the edges of the turf and work your way in in a haphazard fashion?
The operation of the various mowers themselves is pretty similar to driving an incredibly slow go-kart. Handling on the first few models is really stiff and makes hard work of getting the job done. You must be careful with your driving as damaging flowers and plants in your clients gardens can incur penalties and fines. Also turning the vehicle too fast can cut into the lawn itself, leaving unsightly track marks. This is a quite obviously a big no-no if you want your full wage packet at the end of the shift. As you expand your business you can purchase upgraded equipment and lawnmowers which I’ll cover shortly. These more expensive models speed up your progress and achieve your goals quicker and easier.
At the time of writing, I have just read an update from the developers stating that steering wheel support will be available on the game at launch. This is an absolute win for players who want this experience to feel even more realistic. The racing game fans amongst us may want to dust their wheel off for something more casual at a maximum speed of 8 miles per hour.
Hire staff and promote yourself!
As previously mentioned, Lawn Mower Simulator isn’t just about mowing lawns – it delves much deeper. There are several routes in which you can use to create revenue growth in your company. You’ll be able to take out loans, hire and train staff, advertise your expertise and purchase new buildings to store the abundance of mowers you’re going to purchase.
Staff can be hired to take on other projects when you’re busy with one yourself. This generates more income for you over time with only their wages and any mistakes they may make being the only outlay. There is the option to send staff on training courses to become more experienced which will do your company wonders. It is your choice to hire several team members to take on most of the workload. You choose where to send them and what equipment they use. In Lawn Mower Simulator, you are the boss.
As mentioned, while starter and business loans are available to give you a boost in finances, I would urge you to be wise and spend only where necessary. I made the mistake of borrowing over twenty thousand pounds and the interest rates were murder, leading me to repay thirty-five thousand back. You have to factor in weekly repayments and staff costs along with maintenance against the money you’ll be bringing in.
There are currently four headquarters you can purchase to expand your workforce. Each has a specific number of bays to house your mowing equipment. Will you become rich enough to eventually own the plush Moderna Estate which has unlimited bays to park your fleet of vehicles? The dream is real, only your grit and determination can make it a reality.
Prior preperation prevents piss poor performance
There are twelve authentic licenced diesel and petrol mowers available at present. All have differing deck sizes and type, speed limits and fuel tank capacity. You are responsible for the maintenance of all your vehicles. Keeping your eye on the engine quality and whether you need the blades changing is very important. Also managing the amount of fuel you have onboard and keeping your grass storage empty ensures you and your workers stay efficient.
Seeing statistics of each vehicle is a nice touch as I am a numbers nerd when it comes to video games and data analysis. Each screen will show you how long you have driven, the distance, area of grass cut, costs, money earned and more. It is superb how much detail they have gone into within these areas. It is also super satisfactory to see your company and building value rise as you invest more time and money into everything you do.
Presentation and variance in gameplay
I was pleasantly surprised at how well the menus have been constructed. They are neat, tidy and simple to get to grips with and understand. Whilst I’d loved to have more control over customisation of character, clothing and logo design, it holds up well enough for its purpose. In the early hours of the game, you do find some repetitive hours of gameplay. Sometimes you’ll end up attending the same properties twice or more. However, I found that once my reputation increased there appeared to be much more variance in the projects and the size of them also.
The range of environments was vastly different aesthetically. Gardens, cottage surroundings, manor lawns and industrial jobs such as picking litter in large parks were a new experience every time. Visually everything was so beautifully presented. The grass appears very realistic on Xbox Series X and seeing the difference in the end result makes the lengthy levels wonderful to manage and play through. Vehicle animations and sounds are fantastic. The discharge of freshly mowed lawn emitting green clouds from the rear of the mower makes it feel like you’re doing the work yourself.
Sound effects tick every box and in between the loud rotation of your blades, you’ll hear subtle detail such as birds tweeting and cars alarms going off. There is only one music track on the main menu but it has a feel-good vibe.
I have played a lot of simulator games, more than I dare to remember. Lawn Mowing Simulator for me was at the pinnacle of the genre. With its super satisfying gameplay, striving to get the job done to its rich and detailed business growth model, it gets a hell of a lot right.
Personally, I ploughed through over thirty hours of gameplay for this review and I’m still wanting to put more time in. The longevity and replayability are huge here; I’d estimate I could probably pump another 100 hours in to reach where I wanted to be and I am still not sure whether I’d achieve everything the game has to offer. My addiction grew the more I invested in my business and hours seem like minutes with this game. If you fancy something unique and different that is focused on building your own company and you have a penchant for mowing everyones lawn but your own, you may want to give Lawn Mower Simulator a try.