Who doesn’t like to cut grass? Me and teenagers forced to earn their keep by tidying up the garden or washing the car. It’s hardly something many people would refer to as a pastime, so when Grass Cutter: Mutated Lawns was announced for the Switch and other consoles, I barely reached for my marigolds. I wear marigolds when I do the garden. That’s how I roll.
Grass Cutter: Mutated Lawns from Sometimes You couldn’t be more different from its real-life counterpart. It’s enjoyable and doesn’t result in a sweat-fest. The goal is simple: mow all the grass in the level to win. That’s it. However, chuck in a few obstacles, enemies and a timer (the battery level of your lawnmower), and you’ve got yourself a challenge.
You play the lawnmower in the game and cut grass. That’s all you really need to know as the story isn’t important. To summarise, Xtract Grass Company have created a chemical that enhances lawns. Their invention is a bit of a balls-up, however, and causes mutations in the grass that want to take over the world. These mutations cannot be destroyed conventionally, so the only way to do so is to cut back the lawns. Doesn’t make that much sense, really, as you aren’t destroying the lawns, just giving them a trim. Still, the story is non-existent as this is all about the gameplay.
How Difficult Is It to Cut a Lawn?
Early on, Grass Cutter: Mutated Lawns is a walk in the park. Or garden. It’s that easy that it becomes a chore. Then, all of a sudden, the difficulty level jumps up, and it’s a new game. Challenges are great, but it is a bit of a spike and may put some people off if they were thinking of a comfortable ride. After all, this isn’t a lawnmower simulator but a fast-paced action-puzzle game.
Progressing through the game, you build up your battery levels and health, so should you die, you get another chance. It’s so easy to die in this game that you often end up restarting the level over and over again. Thankfully, these aren’t procedurally generated maps, so it’s mostly a case of learning the level and mustering up a strategy. Sometimes though, it’s so frustrating that you need to take a break.
There are 12 levels to each tier, which equals well over 60+. The beginning stages are swift – to give you that false sense of security that this is an easy game, but as already mentioned, the challenges get a bit rough early on. Challenges do start to level out again, and surprisingly, some of the later levels are easier than their counterparts. A bit strange but certainly welcome as it gives your grey matter and opposables a bit of a break.
Cog in the Machine
To add a little depth, you can unlock some skills, such as shooting the enemies or laying traps of poo – you read that correctly. Gran Turismo has its Skylines and F40s, Grass Cutter: Mutated Lawns has upgraded lawnmowers. No brand names (not that I’d know any), but they each have their own abilities, like granting temporary invincibility or projectiles. There are also animals to unlock, such as cows or sheep, and their talent is laying a lawn cigar, a.k.a.= a poisonous poo, that can kill some enemies.
Unlocking new machines or animals is simple: collect in-game cogs scattered across the maps. The average upgrade is around 60-90 cogs, and you can collect a dozen or so in the early stages, depending on how long you take. Time is defined by your lawnmower’s battery: Crash into obstacles that don’t kill you, and they will zap your energy. Once your energy is gone, game over. You can, of course, collect energy along the way, as well as power-ups like a temporary shield to protect you from wrong turns.
The main enemies that appear to be hedges can’t be killed. If you collide with them or sabotage their path with poo, they will be unable to move for a few seconds. They regenerate again and return to their path. Regarding paths, most of the enemies take the same route, so it is easy to anticipate their next move. Some change their pattern though, and that’s a bit of a pain.
The Grass Is Always Greener
The visuals are a fusion of Minecraft meets Bomberman meets Crossy Road, with an element of Pac-Man thrown in for good measure. Being in league with the titles mentioned is praise in itself, but each level can be a little samey. There’s only so much you can do with green lawns. Still, it works perfectly fine for an indie title.
Music-wise, the soundtrack is very upbeat. With these types of games, the music can become very repetitive and a bit droney, but it was pretty good. I’d even go as far as to say it was motivating when you felt the puzzles were getting the better of you. Sound effects are minimal, so that’s that, really.
Zen and Unicorns
If your OCD kicked in during Serial Cleaner and you were eager to clear up all the blood, then Grass Cutter: Mutated Lawns is for you. While it’s far from zen-like, there’s something therapeutic about cutting grass, at least in this game. The change in difficulty is less than zen-like, and you may end up throwing the controller or taking a deep breath and trying again later. Like that will happen.
Should a lawnmower not whet your appetite, how about swapping it for a unicorn? That’s right, you can ride a unicorn while cutting the grass. This is easily the best grass-cutting game ever made. Unicorn beats rock, scissors and paper.
Publisher: Sometimes You
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
Release Date: 10th July 2019