Take it from me that despite the hours put into Lawn Mowing Simulator, I'm unable to decipher whether it's the most relaxing or stressful game I've ever played. Perhaps it's the perfect balance of both, but in a world where simulation games are making a big comeback, is Lawn Mowing Simulator a cut above the rest?
One man and his machine
The vast majority of my time with Lawn Mowing Simulator was spent in the career mode. As you would probably expect, you run your own lawn mowing enterprise looking to become the Jeff Bezos of grass cutting.
It starts with just you, your company name, logo and a singular ride-on lawnmower. That's right, despite starting from the bottom of the lawn mowing monopoly, you won't have to slum it like the common people still pushing handheld mowers around their gardens.
I've often fantasised about owning a ride-on lawnmower fit with a comfy padded chair and cup holder containing a nice cold beer but this may be the closest I'll ever come to realising this dream.
Granted, if riding a lawnmower is as fun as Lawn Mowing Simulator makes out, I may have to entertain the idea of renting one to take care of my tiny garden one day. Therein lies the irony of Lawn Mowing Simulator, it's a game about one of the most menial chores I can think of, yet here I am sat performing the act in video game form.
The irony was also not lost on my significant other who pointed out how nice it would be if I approached mowing our real-life lawn with the same enthusiasm I held towards my virtual business.
One job at a time
Once you have selected your preferred lawnmower from the two starting options available, you'll be asked to test drive it, which acts as the game's tutorial. This is where you're taught how each job will work.
Every job starts with a clean-up phase because apparently we're being paid to tidy the garden as well as cut the grass. Anyway, you spend the first minute or so looking for possible obstructions in the grass and each level gives you several items to look out for. Once you find all the items you can head over to your lawnmower to begin the job.
You'll board your mower and run through a little process that wouldn't seem out of place if you were flying the Millennium Falcon. Engage the engine, kickstart the throttle, get the right cutting height, lower your blades and finally, start the blades up.
Once all that's done, you're pretty much left to your own devices. Cut the grass however you see fit, as long as it's to the customer's specified height. You might assume there's no 'right way' to cut grass in the game, but I fell into a routine fairly quickly where I work from the edges of the lawn into the centre.
The harsh reality of Lawn Mowing Simulator is that I couldn't take the hell for the leather approach I usually do in real life and instead, it turns out that a lawnmower top speed is like 5mph for the starter options. Once you bag a considerable amount of money (around £40,000) you can upgrade to the best mower in the game which has significantly improved pace and efficiency.
You also have to keep an eye on the maintenance of the vehicle as attempting to cut large areas of grass will overwork your engine and lead to damage. And if you attempt to drift your mower around corners for style points then... well, there are no style points, you'll just damage the ground and incur a fine (no, really).
The same applies to customer flowers and general property. If you destroy flowers, you'll be paying for them out of your job fee and the same goes for and collision damage that occurs from reckless mowing.
Each job is complete once you cut between 99.5-99.9% of the grass. You have a 'pro sight' ability to identify bits of grass you may have missed should you be struggling to hit the required percentage to pass the job. Once you're done, you simply back up your mower onto the trailer it arrived on and it's time to get paid.
Build your empire
As you complete jobs and earn money you can begin to upgrade your Headquarters. Initially, the only upgrade available in the base HQ is an extra mower bay which allows you to purchase another lawnmower and hire an employee to take on jobs for you.
To speed up the process of building the best damn lawn moving business there ever has been, you can even take on a bank loan. Unfortunately, when I approached my bank to take out a £200,000 loan to go buy some lawnmowers and a warehouse, my application was rejected, weird right?
I decided to do things the hard way and grind out my reputation through hard work. As your business' reputation grows you'll unlock better paying and more complex jobs. Despite boasting 31 different locations, it really doesn't take long for you to visit the same places over and over again.
Some locations will differ slightly when you visit, maybe a change in decoration at best, but they all start to blend together, and when the job rotation leaves you having to revisit the same location twice in a row, it can be a real motivation killer.
There are always multiple jobs to choose from, but depending on which type of mower is required or the amount a job pays, you can feel a little cornered with which jobs you take on until you have a decent workforce behind you to help out.
Overall, the career mode is a well thought through and welcome addition but falls way short in content after just a few hours and begins to feel like a slog to get through.
Give us a challenge
If career mode becomes stale and you need a different challenge, Lawn Mowing Simulator has you covered. There are 23 challenges in total split between three tiers and more unlock as you complete them.
Each challenge has different parameters, be it a time limit, fuel limit or something else. The challenges also come with a fine limit, again making sure that you don't approach them with too much reckless abandon.
Slow and steady wins... something
Lawn Mowing Simulator is not a game you should be playing if you're looking for a quick fix of high octane action. Most jobs, once past the early stages of the career mode, can take over an hour to complete. Yes, an hour spent mowing virtual grass... and yes I'm questioning my life choices now but that's my problem.
There is just an insane calm that washes over me when playing Lawn Mower Simulator that is unmatched by any other game I've played, ever. I'm finally starting to see why the simulator genre is gaining so much traction again.
These types of games have often left me stressed and uninterested after a few hours but Lawn Mowing Simulator still has me coming back to play, time and time again, even if it's just to play one job at a time.
That's not to say it's perfect because I still have plenty of moments of frustration and even anger when playing but they're always short-lived and mostly come from me being annoyed that I'm not quite doing as good a job as I could be or because of the pacing of the game.
Lawn Mowing Simulator is a fantastic foundation to build on and the gameplay is surprisingly tight and refined but its overall content lets it down.
The highs that it offers are undeniable but ultimately don't last long and I found myself unable to commit to more than one job each time I played due to how long they are.
I'll still happily revisit Lawn Mowing Simulator now and again for the stress relief that it can offer, but it's by no means a game I'll be putting the same hours into that I do, say, FIFA or Fortnite.
RealSport Rating: 2.5 Stars (out of 5)
For transparency, our review code was provided by developer Skyhook Games and we played on PC using both keyboard and mouse as well as a controller.