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Epic Game Review: Lawn Mowing Simulator

The Epic Series: this series covers the free games released on the Epic Games Store.

Cost: £0.00 in August 2022, £15.99 RRP

Platform: Epic, Steam, PS, Xbox

Reviews: 1,195 reviews with overall rating ‘Mostly Positive’

Time to complete: No end game

Similar Games: Truck Simulator, Farming Simulator, Train Simulator

Summary

Lawn Mowing Simulator pays homage to the real life act of mowing one’s lawn. Both ridiculous and exceptional. We suggest improvements and provide insight – perhaps too much into the authors own childhood – for one of the most popular Simulator games of 2022.

Game Review

Getting out the house was difficult for me between the age of 11 and 15. Runescape beckoned and I had yew bows to fletch and agility training to grind.

Gnome Stronghold Agility Course - OSRS Wiki
An example of the Agility courses Runescape had on offer.

One summer my Dad decided I ought to be put to work. He enticed me with a generous job offer. ‘Cut the lawn and I’ll give you £5’ he said.

Hands were shaken, and my old iPod Shuffle dusted off (this is important for the review later).

You can therefore imagine my joy to find that Lawn Mowing Simulator was free on the Epic Games store recently, and thus prime for a review.

Gameplay

I jumped into the game and signed up for the tutorial. As I was clicking through the menus, I hoped for controller capability. Thankfully the team at Skyhook Games, the main developer of the game, delivered.

Driving cars is so much easier with a joystick and RT, and thus so is a Lawn Mower.

One you have chosen your grass-eating-death-machine, it’s time to go for a test drive.

I jumped straight into career mode. This is where you complete contracts for money and reputation. Reputation is important. IRL (in real life) as an ambitious teenager I discovered that if you did a good job, showed care, and didn’t destroy flower patches (it happens) then your neighbour will invite you back to do it again. Perhaps even pay you more.

Complete contracts, earn reputation, build an empire

You start by trying out some lawn mowers. I was slightly disappointed to find that the only options were ride on mowers. Some of the initial maps I mowed in the game definitely did not justify a four-wheeler diesel glugging machine. The target market is almost certainly American.

But as you will see in the video at the bottom of the review, the sheer variety of mowers on offer is stellar from Skyhook. And no doubt will lends well into further downloadable content.

The target market is almost certainly American.

Once you have chosen your grass-eating-death-machine, it’s time to go for a test drive. This is a great way to familiarise with the game mechanics.

The tutorial messages are obtrusive, but necessary. I’ve played Farming, and Truck, simulators where at times I’ve felt at a complete loss. This is unsurprisingly a general symptom of simulators, they tend to involve the need to memorise controls such as raising the blades, turning them off, adjust the throttle, ride height etc. Things you’d have to do in real life.

I wondered whether I would need to pull out the notepad and pen to keep track of the various controls in this game, but actually found they were intuitive.

So far so good. However, as I was mowing my first garden – for a version of me in ten years time with a Porsche Cayenne and vintage Jaguar – I just felt that something was missing.

An idyllic scene. Although I’m still not convinced you need a pick-up, trailer, and ride-on mower for this man’s Surrey garden.

The game is peaceful, the graphics are outstanding (Unity Software), and the lawns are well thought out. It’s a great way to zone out and pass time.

But when you have the camera angle on close up and you’re looking at the lawn getting trimmed (usually to an excellent 6mm in length), you just miss… the smell of cut grass.

Ok I understand, it’s a computer game. ‘OK boomer’ etc.

Perhaps credit to the game for producing a powerful simulation, taking me to the teetering edge of reality.

Don’t forget to pick up the Dog’s p–… toys.

But it’s not just the lack of smelling fresh cut grass. When you play GTA, it seems you can drive for hours in a car, exploring, weaving in and out of traffic. But in Lawn Mowing Simulator there is something holding me back. It’s not as fun. 

The grass looks fairly repetitive (even though you find your lawn mower choking at certain areas because it is too thick – this mechanic could be improved).

There is also the monotony of the soundtrack. Nature and lawnmowing audio is done well, but after ten minutes of mowing a lawn it loses appeal. A great improvement would be a radio system – the equivalent of GTA’s car radio, or this writer’s iPod Shuffle in the early 2000s.

When you play GTA, it seems you can drive for hours in a car, exploring, weaving in and out of traffic. But in mowing simulator there is something holding me back. It’s not as fun. 

Alternatively it may be that I was simply put off by the rules of the game in career mode. Drive too fast, get the wrong length, dump out a chunk of grass, and you risk ruining your reputation and securing a bad name in the neighbourhood.

To my own discredit this if of course solved by free mode, where one can achieve unlimited ways of playing. A good way to decompress, and of course you can play Spotify in the background.

Mechanics

On top of some of the suggestions above, there are various other areas this game could improve playability.

The camera angles can be harsh and sometimes clunky, this could be made more fluid with the ability move around free-style, and then ‘lock’ the chosen camera angle in place.

Skyhook could have also implemented ghosting, so you can see other players take on the patch of grass with the same lawn mower. Akin to Mario Kart’s time trials where you race alongside other players who have set a good time.

Ghosting in Mario Kart time trials works by pushing you into trying new angles, and beating random (fast) drivers.

The game might also, especially early on, help with suggested routes. This would give an element of learning to ‘master’ the trade.

An achievement mechanic would also be very welcome, collecting trophies as you mow. There is a progress bar at the top right for the main objective, but as someone who has grown up with character development, levelling and MMOs, it would be far more engaging if I could see progress bars for e.g. distance travelled, grass collected, objects avoided/picked up in a more engaging fashion with a shiny achievement badge to collect. Maybe this could allow access to unique mowers (rather than the standard unlocks) later in the game.

I’m starting to sound like an MMO developer. Perhaps it’s because I mentioned Runescape at the beginning.

Developer

The game developers for Lawn Mowing Simulator are Skyhook Games founded in 2014, and the publisher Curve Games. An all-British line-up Skyhook are based in Liverpool and Curve operate out of London.

Skyhook Games are best known for outsourcing their talent to simulator games such as Train simulator (Dovetail Games are the main developer). It is therefore great to see them taking their abilities to the next level by generating IP for themselves. Released in 10.08.2021 Lawn Mowing simulator has only really recently cropped up on the radar. I suspect this is due in part to the emergent success of Power Wash simulator released on 14.07.2022.

Curve Games, based in London are known for publishing games such as 10 second Ninja X (I will one day do a review on this game, +++ like), I am Fish, The Ascent, Human Fall Flat, Hue, and Roll7’s OlliOlli. Aside from a dislike of VR/AR/XR, HTML5, or F2P (at least currently), there isn’t a game they won’t pursue providing they find the right developer partner.

They are owned by the wider Catalis Group, which in turn is backed by Private Equity. Some of the most talented people in the U.K. Games industry work in this group and it’s been touted by press as being ‘Britain’s Ubisoft’.

Hat’s off to both for making Lawn Mowing simulator, which in hindsight seems blindingly obvious a game to make.

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