The latest in high-end simulation gaming is here, but there's a lot more beneath this game's surface than it lets on. Lawn Mowing Simulator from Skyhook Games has paraded around social media for the past few months claiming to be a simple sim game. And sure, while the game does allow players to cut a lot of grass, that's only a small part of its total package. That's because beneath its luxurious lawn-care exterior is a full-fledged open-world RPG.
I know what you're thinking. How can a game focused on operating a lawn-care business also be an open-world RPG? Well, Lawn Mowing Simulator has all of the characteristics of these genres. Players can explore different parts of a beautifully crafted world and enjoy all of its fine details. Every centimeter of Lawn Mowing Simulator contains RPG elements from a party system, to upgrading gear, to the grinding of lower levels to gain money and RP. Don't be fooled by this game's title; Lawn Mowing Simulator takes its players on a grindy and dangerous adventure to some of the most luxurious locations in Europe.
Cruising Around an Open-World in Lawn Mowing Simulator
Lawn Mowing Simulator's open-world is close to that of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, except it has a lot more boundaries. Its similarities are most apparent at the beginning of the hero's career. When the hero (player character) establishes their lawn-mowing guild, they are limited to smaller areas to explore. This is reminiscent of The Great Plateau in BOTW. While there is a lot of beauty hidden in these smaller areas, it won't be until later when players get to explore expansive parks and castles. Players will start by exploring small village homes and will make their way through parks and grand architectural works.
A bit of a spoiler, but the last location players can explore in Lawn Mowing Simulator is a giant castle. Again, this is similar to BOTW as players are meant to explore the rest of Hyrule before heading to the castle. But along the way, players are immersed in a beautifully crafted world filled with detail. When players look deeper into each level, they'll begin to truly enjoy the care that went into each area's design. Skyhook Games didn't have to give players extra areas to explore, but it did. That's because there's a lot more to LMS than just the perfect cut.
Hidden Role-Playing Elements
When you load into Lawn Mowing Simulator, you don't just get to pick a yard and start mowing. Just like how when you boot up Final Fantasy, you don't just start fighting a dragon. That's because in LMS, you're playing the role of a novice lawn-care specialist whose goal is to build a successful lawn-mowing guild. To accomplish this goal, players will have to grind to build their reputation, assemble a party of expert mowers, and manage the guild's funds properly.
Like any hero, the journey begins alone and players are only offered smaller jobs. Instead of clearing out goblin camps or returning lost kittens, players have to mow smaller lawns. Instead of a training sword and wooden shield, the hero starts with a basic mower that can't handle too much at one time. Like a traditional RPG, players have to grind out these smaller jobs to earn money for new equipment while also building their reputation as a capable mower. Once word gets out about your heroic mowing skills, larger and more challenging jobs will start to roll in.
But, as the hero starts to tackle these dangerous jobs, they will have to hire others to join their party. This allows the guild to grow and more jobs can be tackled at once. However, this also means that players will have to start managing more equipment. You can't rely on your partner in a fight against a dragon if all they have is a bronze sword and a pot lid shield. You will have to supply your party with upgraded equipment so they can be effective in aiding on your quest to be an elite mower.
NPCs, Side Quests & Hazards
These three elements are what all RPGs have, but Lawn Mowing Simulator seems to be missing them. There are NPCs that wander around, but players can't interact with them. This leads to the game feeling pretty lonely, as if LMS really is just a sim game. When players start hiring party members, this feeling of loneliness dissipates slightly. Yet, players should be able to at least wave or say "hi" to any passersby.
There aren't many side quests either. At the beginning of each job, players can choose to clear the lawn of any discarded junk that might get in their way. That's about all LMS offers in terms of side quests, but it would be cool to have other options. Maybe someone could pay the hero to destroy someone's flower bed or scare away woodland creatures. There could be lawn mower races or demo derbies. For an RPG, there aren't many options when it comes to making money.
As for hazards, there also aren't that many. Especially when players get to the late game, Lawn Mowing Simulator doesn't offer much in the way of danger. At the beginning, players will need to carefully manage their speed and blade height to avoid damaging the mower. They also need to drive carefully or else they'll damage the lawn. But after mowing for several hours, these hazards don't pose any real threat. Give us weeds or tree roots or turtles that we need to deal with. LMS needs thrilling hazards and not just the fear of mowing too close to a flower.
A Decent Open-World RPG
For all of its shortcomings, Lawn Mowing Simulator is a pretty good open-world RPG. Sure, it may not have all of the flashy elements of a traditional RPG, but it doesn't need them. LMS strips away all of the gaudy excess of modern RPGs and offers a pure role-playing experience. It offers a beautiful world to explore without the fear of missing a collectible. Do I wish I could run open gates and talk to NPCs? Yes! But do I need those features to thoroughly enjoy LMS for what it is? No!