Developer: Skyhook Games
Release Date: August 10, 2021
A year ago, I wouldn’t have looked twice at a game called Lawn Mowing Simulator. Of course, a year ago, I also didn’t get the hype around PowerWash Simulator either, and then a friend bought it for me, and I ended up spending almost 30 hours just chilling out and washing things. While I expected that it could be an anomaly, I also had to consider that maybe I am actually part of the target market for these chore simulation games.
Now, I have never actually mowed a lawn in my entire life, but I understand the basic theory behind it. I was hoping that Lawn Mowing Simulator would start me off small, with a push mower. It does not. You’re given the choice to start the game with one of three tractor-style mowers, and before starting the game’s career mode, you can test drive your tractor of choice (or all of them, if you so desire) on a pretty basic lawn where you only need to mow 20% of the available grass.
Now, I’m not the best video game driver to start with, and that definitely translates into not being the best lawn mower either. After “completing” the test drive, the game warns me that once I start career mode, I will be expected to cut all the grass, which makes sense. I wouldn’t pay me for the mess I made of that field. In truth, you only need to cut 99% of the available lawn to complete a contract in career mode, which might seem like a negligible difference, but one most players will likely to be very grateful for.
I suspect that this game is going for a more realistic simulation approach than a casual one. Once you purchase you tractor and a string cutter, you start on your first job. You spend the first few minutes inspecting the property and picking up any debris that might do damage to your equipment. This was the only easy part of the game for me. I can find stuff and pick it up.
You also have a targeted completion time, and I was concerned that when the clock ran out, that the scenario would end, but it keeps going until you hit your completion target, even if that takes you days. You just don’t get any bonus pay for being quick. I was not quick. I was penalized for doing damage to the ground, and for destroying flowers. I am not meant for a career in virtual landscaping.
I found myself relying more on the string trimmer than I probably should, due to my inability to pilot a lawn tractor in tighter spaces. The last 10 percent or so took me forever to finish, and it awarded me very little money and just over half a bar full of experience. I was feeling stressed out about the whole thing, and was dreading seeing the next yard I needed to manage if I struggled this hard with one-star complexity.
While I can appreciate the attention to detail in the game, I just didn’t enjoy it. Lawn Mowing Simulator looks great, the controls are fine, and I can’t really say there’s anything wrong with it. It’s a solid entry in the chore-sim genre, but I just wanted a little push mower and a square yard. Then I might have found it meditative rather than anxiety-inducing.
SteamDB estimates that Lawn Mowing Simulator has sold between 29,200 and 80,300 copies on Steam. It is also available on Game Pass, was part of the July 2022 Humble Choice, and was given away on the Epic Games store from July 28 – August 4 2022. Reviews are mostly positive, and detractors seems split on whether it’s not realistic enough, or entirely too realistic. Can’t please everyone, I guess. It is ranked 3903 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.