Update (29th Nov, 2021): With Lawn Mowing Simulator making its triumphant debut on Xbox Game Pass this Thursday, December 2nd for Series X|S, we're republishing this review so you can see what the fuss is all about. Enjoy!
Original review (9th Aug, 2021): As this reviewer looks out to his overgrown lawn which has been neglected all summer, he feels a little guilty admitting that he's spent the past week getting intimately acquainted with Lawn Mowing Simulator, spending hours-upon-hours making sure a variety of virtual gardens are in absolutely perfect condition. Hey, it's my 'job', right?
Then again, that's kind of where the hype for Lawn Mowing Simulator has come from, as fans shared how unexpectedly therapeutic it proved during the game's limited-time free demo back in June. It's gone from what many saw as a big joke to a legitimate potential purchase, and if you liked the demo, we think you're going to like the full game.
Essentially, the gameplay loop sees you embarking on a lawn mowing business in which you'll take on contracts, upgrade and improve your HQ, maintain and buy more vehicles and employees, and ultimately increase your profits and reputation until you're getting the most prestigious jobs. All of this takes place within a basic menu structure, so don't expect anything too in-depth, but it does an OK enough job in the transition period between lawn to lawn.
The management side of things is really just an excuse to keep you mowing as many lawns as possible, though, and this is surprisingly pretty enjoyable in practice. You get on your mower, you turn on the blades, you make sure the cutting height is correct and you've emptied your grass clippings, and you set off trying to cut the perfect pattern so you can be finished as quickly and efficiently as possible. The goal is to avoid damage, achieve a certain level of precision and complete your jobs within a set amount of time to get a nice bonus.
There are a good number of licensed mowers you can buy, and just over 30 different types of lawns to mow. And in terms of gameplay, the vehicles generally handle well and are easy to get to grips with, ensuring that even if you've never touched a lawn in your life, you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly. It really is the sort of game that gives off a therapeutic vibe, as you mindlessly cut away while listening to something like a Spotify podcast in the background.
Visually, it's not bad at all either, especially in terms of the detailed characters, mowers and environments surrounding the gardens. The lawns themselves are OK too — the only issue crops up when you're trying to find patches you've missed, and sometimes shadows and low-quality textures don't make those patches as obvious as they should be (although you can highlight them with a 'Pro View' button). The frame rate can drop at times in busy areas as well - even on Xbox Series X - and the excessive use of pop-in is a little bit disappointing considering this is a next-gen exclusive.
When you add everything up though, including its lower price point of just £24.99 / $29.99, Lawn Mowing Simulator is a worthy purchase if you're keenly interested. The core gameplay is where it shines brightest, highlighted by intuitive driving controls, and the career mode is just about engaging enough to keep you invested — we'd just love to see a more in-depth version of it with multiplayer support in the inevitable Lawn Mowing Simulator 2.
Well done, Skyhook Games, you somehow made lawn mowing enjoyable. You deserve a medal!