Lawn Mower Simulator Review

No… just, no…

I have to preface this review with a scene from the 1973 film Soylent Green, an essential sci-fi classic which is surely due for its big budget, controlled-narrative remake soon. The film depicts a brutal Orwellian future (in the distant year of, uh… 2022) where elite families rule a broken world, and the lower classes cannot escape or mount a successful resistance. People sleep on top of each other in apartment stairwells like rats, and real food is a bygone relic – the Soylent company produces artificial, lab-grown “foods” in a range of colours – Red, Yellow, and the titular Green – which serve to keep the populace weak and minimally nourished.

Unfortunately, Lawn Mowing Simulator is not analogous to the beef, but to Soylent’s mass-produced bars of chemical sludge; masquerading as food and available everywhere, yet barely meeting even the most basic requirements of such a classification. “How did we come to this?” the old-timer Sol Ruth laments, with tears in his eyes. Indeed…

In a recent Gamespot piece, developer Skyhook Games had this to say;

"When we first set out to create Lawn Mowing Simulator, we had one goal: we wanted to show as many people as possible what it's like to operate ride on mowers for a living, and what it's like to build your own business where grass rules everything…"

Yeah, right. ‘As many people as possible’, that’s the kicker – I suspect their motives were perhaps more of the financial variety. It took some warped genius to exploit the marketing potential of this idea in the world’s current state, I’ll give them that. But Skyhook are now laughing their way to the bank while you mow a bunch of shitty, lifeless lawns in real time.

From The Gamer; “Simulators are a special kind of genre. While most games are about creating a particular type of experience, the simulation genre isn’t actually about creating anything at all,” suggests our own Justin Reeve, a self-professed fan of flight simulators and a pilot in real life. “Simulators are about recreating something. This of course creates all sorts of problems... like whether a given aspect of the flight model is accurate, but it represents, in any case, a completely different approach when it comes to game design. You’re trying to make something as close to reality as possible.” I would add that a good simulator should also simulate something which the average person is not likely to ever do in real life (ie. Flight Simulator). Otherwise, realism should play second fiddle to fun gameplay. Lawn Mowing Simulator is a far cry from being “fun”, and it’s not particularly realistic, either. After the inexplicable success of recent ‘joke sims’ like Goat Simulator I was expecting some humour from the game…after all, the title itself is enough to elicit a pained chuckle from the uninitiated…but beyond that the game is excruciatingly dry, with no story, cutscenes, dialogue or NPC interactions whatsoever. It’s a real shitter.

You missed a spot…

Let’s talk about one of the game’s few features. As many have noted it’s rather difficult to mow every single blade of grass, even by driving slowly and in straight lines. I guess this is technically “realistic” but in practice it’s just annoying; you can press and hold Y/Triangle to view all the bits of grass you’ve missed, but you actually have to stop mowing before you can do this. You’ll get sick of it real fast. What else have we got, then? Officially licensed lawn mower models which will surely excite nobody, besides (perhaps) those who already work in the industry…though I highly doubt that any of these folks would prefer to mow a virtual lawn and get paid nothing, for the same amount of time they could have been mowing a real lawn for real money.

What might have worked better is if Skyhook had looked into blockchain/NFT technology and made this a Play-to-Earn model instead. Graphics wouldn’t matter, as LMS looks dated anyway (on PS4 and X|S), and the environments/properties are essentially lifeless. The grass looks alright in LMS, I guess…but given that this game is literally about mowing grass, and nothing else, they could have put in a lot more effort here. No turbo mowing Multiplayer madness, either *sadface*. Even if you had the ability to look inside each mower’s engine, and diagnose/fix problems, or something – that would expand the gameplay enormously, and you’d learn stuff, too! Perhaps as with Gran Turismo, some manufacturers were not comfortable with their products being heavily damaged or tinkered with in-game, though I’d wager this was possibly just outside of the team’s scope, or not considered for inclusion. Normally I’d say fair enough, but this is supposed to be a straight-up simulator, and it’s not like the game is jam-packed full of other modes or features to compensate. This brings us to a more fundamental problem, which lies at the core of the idea itself. Comparing LMS to something like PowerWash Simulator is handy because the latter has taken an activity which is not only aesthetically pleasing to perform in-game, but which also (more importantly) transcribes well to videogame controls. Hence, fun! The