I quite like a game that’s simply yet fun by concept, and whilst Grass Cutter – Mutated Lawns has a few drawbacks, that’s exactly what it is. There’s no real premise to the game’s story, in fact, it’s relatively bare-boned on that front. Basically, a top-dog grass company has produced the perfect formula for growing a green, luxurious lawn; a DNA-drenched substance that accelerates growth. The problem? Said substance sees mutations spawning from the grass, and the only way about this is to eradicate any lawn that’s been infected.
The story doesn’t really get much more interesting than that, but that’s okay because in the grand scheme of things, it works well as a basic framework. The whole ordeal is spread across over sixty levels; some main, secret, and some tougher variations offer the overall challenge. Booting up the game takes you to a clean and concise menu, and here, you’ll be able to dive right into the fray, browse different lawn mowers, check out your skills, or alter some simple settings. It really is as straightforward as that, which again, is a nice touch.
The skills that you earn are passive, meaning that you’ll unlock the majority of these throughout natural play; new abilities, increased battery life, more hit points, and so forth. The lawn mowers, on the other hand, offer up some more variation. Now, the more you play, the more cogs you’ll earn. Cogs are awarded to you based on how you perform throughout each level; the game’s three star ranking per-level dishing up more cogs for more stars earned, but you’ll also find cogs randomly spawning on the game’s levels.
These cogs go towards paying for the aforementioned new abilities, and indeed, for new lawn mowers. Starting out, you begin with the basic mower; it’s an adequate mower for sure, but there’s a lot better in the market should you earn enough cogs. Mowers also come with unique abilities; such as the ability to remain invincible for fifteen seconds, the ability to throw homing missiles at mutations, the ability (if you choose to play as an animal) to leave explosive poop in your path, and more besides. Choice is by no means exhaustive here.
This alone pushes the replay value to new heights, and ensures that repetition, to some degree, is kept at bay. There’s several mowers and animals to unlock, all of which are distinct in their own way. That being said, and as alluded to above, in between levels you’re able to spend said cogs on replenishing your abilities, but should you do that, you’ll not have enough cogs to unlock new mowers, so finding a good balance is key. Nevertheless, with that to the side, let’s get to the nitty gritty, shall we? How does it all play out?
The crux of play in Grass Cutter – Mutated Lawns is very simple; cut grass on grid-like maps using up, down, left, and right movement. That’s it, but, much to be expected, that’s a lot easier said than done people. Starting out, the game doesn’t throw too much at you, allowing you to get to grips with the fields of play. This usually amounts to cutting a trouble-free lawn, right through to cutting a lawn whilst avoiding puddles and mud patches. Though, before too long, the game’s difficulty starts to make a much more dominant appearance.
The game throws mutations at you, stationed turrets, sprinklers, drones, and much (much) more besides. This is where your abilities come in handy. Time a bomb or a shot right, and you’ll dispose of whatever mutation is gunning for you for a few seconds, allowing you to clear up nearby patches of lawn before getting the hell out of dodge. Whilst the amount of lives you have depends on your mower of choice, at best, you’ll only be able to sustain a few hits before needing to restart the whole level, essentially forcing you to play very carefully.
Thankfully, on top of randomly spawned cogs, some power-ups will also spawn on each level; ranging force-fields, mines, extra lives, and so forth. These can help out in a pinch, giving you just the edge you need to see you through to that last patch of uncut grass. The game’s complexities rise as you get deeper in; harder and faster enemies appear, gardens get more intricate by design, and even boss encounters are introduced. The pacing of the game is very well set, ultimately ensuring that you’re always treated to new mechanics.
In regards to the boss encounters, these don’t serve themselves as bosses that you’ll combat in the traditional sense. Sure, you can shoot at them, blow them up, summon bolts of lightning using your abilities and more besides, but much like standard mutations, they’ll get back up before long. Most bosses serve to make cutting the grass a harder task rather than pursuing you directly; such as the first boss, who frequently spawns vines that randomly appear on the level for a few seconds, killing you instantly if you get struck.
Regardless as to where you, the objective remains the same; cut every single patch of grass. Given the fact that you only have four directional movement, things can get pretty testing, and although the game can be more frustrating than it’s worth, I cant say I was never having fun. I, above all else, appreciated how the game’s puzzle aspects worked; pushing crates into the correct puddles to make it to otherwise inaccessible areas, activating switches to drop barriers, and more besides. These additions elevate the game to wonderful heights.
That’s not to mention the secret levels that you’ll stumble upon, teleporting you to some fairly outlandish lawns that are usually way more challenging than the standard lawns. That being said, I do have a gripe here. There doesn’t seem to be any indication as to where these secret levels are hidden. I mean, I wouldn’t expect any hand-holding, but the lack of any hint whatsoever can be a nuisance. I’ve only found a few of these elusive lawns, and all of which I’ve found have been located by complete accident. More insight is a must.
One other issue I have is that visually, things can get quite stale. I get that there’s only so many ways you can design a lawn, but still, that doesn’t shake the visual repetition that inevitably ensues. That to the side, there’s very little to scoff at overall. I’ve had a blast playing the game, and thoroughly recommend it to those that, like me, enjoy a concept-simple, but fairly challenging trek. Once you’ve completely cleared a lawn, you’ll be showcased your star-awards before being shoehorned straight to the next level in line.
Overall, there’s plenty of content to soak up, all of which gets gradually more difficult as progression is made – roughly putting forward a few hours worth of play time. If you’re looking to max complete the game, add an hour or two more. I’ll say this, the game is worth its cost. There’s something oddly appealing, and even relaxing, about cutting grass in Mutated Lawns; despite that practically everything wants to kill you. The game’s Snake-like handling keeps things grounded too, making this a game that’s suitable for the entire family.
In regards to the visual and audio presentation, Grass Cutter just about gets a pass on both fronts. Despite its visual repetition, the game looks good, with just the right amount of detail and vibrancy thrown into the proceedings to make it stand out as unique. Whilst it would have been nice to see more variation, I wont hold that against it too much. In regards to its audio, Grass Cutter isn’t the most memorable of games, but it’s cues and its soundtrack are commendable enough to hold their own. Overall, it’s a very decent trek.
Simple by concept, yet tough by design, Grass Cutter – Mutated Lawns is an ideal puzzler for those that enjoy reflex-based challenges that encourage logical thinking. There’s a great deal of variation across the board as far as progression and core content is concerned, and although things can get visually repetitive before long, and perhaps overly difficult, for everything it gets right, you’re certainly getting your money’s worth.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.