There’s something a little ironic about having such a blast mowing virtual lawns while the real one outside my window goes neglected for weeks, sometimes months on end. But then, that’s a big part of the appeal of “job simulator” games like Lawn Mowing Simulator: they’re a chance to enjoy the satisfaction and intricacies of “menial” tasks—which absolutely can be enjoyable and rewarding, despite common assumptions to the contrary—but on your own terms, and without the cost and other faffing sky that comes with the real-life equivalent.
It’s a chore to mow a lawn because you have to, and to deal with the clean up and maintenance that follows. But being able to just jump on a Toro Groundsmaster 3300 at your leisure, cut some clean lines in an overgrown paddock or carefully trim the lawn weaving through a beautiful flower garden, and then walk away when you’ve had your fill, without any of the actual work involved? That hits the spot.
Each job starts with the all-important walk over the lawn to remove any objects that could damage your mower, before you jump onto your chosen ride, set the cutting height, and proceed to trim the greenery. Whatever cutting pattern you want to go with—circuits, stripes, complete random chaos—the ultimate goal is to get the whole lawn cut to a specified height, as quickly and efficiently as possible, and ideally without damaging any garden beds or ornaments. A line trimmer helps deal with those tricky edges, but for the most part, it’s you, your ride-on, and the quiet comfort of seeing the fruits of your labour.
Do you ever play a Legend of Zelda game, and find yourself meticulously cutting every tile of grass? Lawn Mowing Simulator tickles the same sort of thing, but on a much fuller level. There’s something soothing, even meditative about it, in the same way that paint-by-numbers, or pulling weeds, or playing Power Wash Simulator is: repetitive but not boring, focused but not mentally draining, with a constant, immediate sense of progress and visually pleasing result. You might not think it when you approach lawn mowing as a chore, but that can be incredibly satisfying and relaxing.
The inherently mindful qualities of the task at hand are only enhanced by the depth Lawn Mower Simulator finds in the detail of its simulation. The twelve available mowers—most of which are licensed from real-world manufacturers Stiga, Scag, and Toro—each have their own specifics to consider, like catcher type and discharge direction, and once you get into the higher-end models the assortment of different attachments allows a range of configurations.
These different variations come with plenty of benefits (praise be to zero-turn mowers), but also switch up the mowing dynamics: different discharge directions need to be accounted for lest you leave clippings all over pathways, catchers need to be emptied, and mulching can cause unsightly grass clumps if you’re not careful. Each ride handles differently, too, and while I’m far from knowledgeable enough to comment on authenticity, the variance in driving physics does a good job of making each mower feel different, and making learning their intricacies feel worthwhile.
Different lawns pose different challenges, too. The neatly-manicured flower gardens of a quaint little cottage needs a very different approach (and different priorities in mower choice) than a massive, overgrown paddock. Between rural cottages, ultra-modern lifestyle homes, public gardens, farmyards, and a castle, there’s a decent variety of different scenarios to overcome, with different jobs often having extra restrictions to factor in, too.
Those are the big points of consideration, but there’s a lot happening in the finer details, too. Weather, gradient of the ground, cut height, the length of the unmowed grass, cand your speed can all affect performance, in turn affecting the quality of the cut, fuel consumption, and wear on your mower’s engine and blades. Lawn Mowing Simulator is rarely a difficult game, in the traditional sense of a videogame, but there’s a decent learning curve as you get more acquainted with those little details, and those finer points all help add a layer of substance that keeps a deliberately routine task from growing tedious.
In Career Mode, there’s the added wrinkle of managing a small lawncare business. You start out as a solo operator with some basic equipment, but with growing profits and reputation come the opportunity to expand, hire more staff, upgrade your headquarters, and take on bigger, more profitable jobs. The management side of Lawn Mowing Simulator isn’t especially deep or complex, but it creates a nice sense of progression and some fun emergent challenges in lining up the right equipment for each job. Challenge Mode, meanwhile, offers a suite of specific, crafted mowing challenges, like finishing a job with a limited amount of fuel, or striping the grass just right. And finally, there’s a free-play mode, where you can just pick a lawn, a mower, and cut to your heart’s content.
Between those modes, there’s a decent amount of stuff to do—Career Mode, in particular, is a good way to sink some time as you climb those ranks. That said, for all its laid-back charm, Lawn Mowing Simulator is a game best played in small bursts. In an extended play session, relaxing can give way to tiresome, and even with the assortment of different locations and 30-odd different maps spread among them, the rural countryside scenery can grow a bit forgettable. That’s especially apparent in the early parts of career mode, when you’re still making a name for yourself and the pool of job opportunities is smaller, meaning repeating a lot of the same ones.
The Xbox and PC versions that came out earlier have added much more variety through DLC, with lawns set around ancient monuments and a particularly memorable Jurassic Park-style dinosaur park. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, these aren’t available for the PlayStation versions of Lawn Mowing Simulator just yet. They’ll be well worth a look when they do come out (assuming they do), but without the option of even buying them separately, the PlayStation release feels a little lacking, comparatively.
Those are little nitpicks though, really. Lawn Mowing Simulator is a detailed replica of the real-life equivalent that lawncare aficionados will presumably get a kick out of, but like so many of these “job simulator” type games, there’s a much wider appeal than just that core audience. A good mow is something anyone can take pride in, and with its serene locations, attention to detail, and a meditative effect of cleanly cutting through swathes of long grass, Lawn Mower Simulator turns what can feel like a chore in real life into a wonderfully relaxing experience.