Graveyard keeper is a graveyard based game developed and published by Lazy Bear Games and TinyBuild. It is currently available on Steam on a good discount.
In the first few moments of Graveyard keeper, you die. But wait, I thought you were keeping the graves not using them. True! Graveyard Keeper is a game about getting back to your loved ones from a non-specific afterlife. However, in this afterlife town, no one wants to listen to the main character and puts him through absolute torture by giving him a day job. The good news is, what’s his torture is our fun because Graveyard Keeper is a blast to play. I am completely sucked in and at times will lose hours of my life trying to bury just one more body. You should play Graveyard Keeper if you like any of the following: Making todo lists Crossing tasks off. The story is pretty simple, the guy wants to go home to his girl but after getting hit by a car is now a graveyard keeper! Of course. So obviously, like any normal person, he gets to work in hopes this will bring him what he wants. That’s why we all keep going to work everyday right? Anyway, being the grave keeper consists of more than just tending the graves. A donkey drops off the bodies and you need to play mortician before deciding what to do with them. In the morgue, you can cut them up or embalm them which can change the quality of the body which will decide if you want to bury it in the graveyard? Only the best here! Otherwise, you’ll have to burn the bodies to dispose of them which gives ashes that can be put in an urn.
One benefit is that this takes a lot less space than a grave. But you know what, ashes are good to have around for alchemy. So building up your graveyard to be the best takes good bodies and some nice decorations. You’ll want some quality headstones and fences to improve a grave’s score. It’s an interesting system where you can only get points after you get out of the red. So a typical body will have two red squares and two white squares which means a total of two possible points. But you’ll need to decorate the grave with four points. Two to cover the red squares and two on the white squares for points. You’ll want to be really picky about which bodies you bury since you can’t dig them up without permission. Any rearranging comes at a real cost. Once the graveyard is all spruced up you can open the church! The inside is a crafting station for the faith which is really handy. You give a sermon a week for faith and a bit of coin. It’s kind of amazing the game treats prayerlike crafting. The church starts off pretty dingy and it’s yet more work to build up the inside with candles and pews.
The point is to decorate it and try and draw in a bigger crowd. Especially if you make sure they hit that collection bin on the way out. I think if the game stopped there it would be a complete experience but maybe a little short. But that’s not the case. This poor guy is just trying to get back home and there’s so much stuff he has to do. You’ll need to farm, fish, mine, chop trees, make potions, craft everything, and write books. Seriously all that is in the game too. This is a bit of a problem because its difficult to keep track of everything. A typical day goes like this. First, you need to gather the crops, then make some iron, then while that’s going you have to dig a grave, then go back and make some nails. What the hell were these nails for!? At this point I completely forget so I’llstore the nails and hopefully, I’ll remember later. I love it! Just so you can’t progress too fast there is a tech tree. For every action, you take in the world experience drops of three types. Red, green, and blue. You spend the experience to unlock new crafting recipes and abilities. It definitely feels like you’re always progressing even if you’re making your hundredth wooden plank. However, none of the systems are super deep but combine everything and it’s a lot to handle. The user interface doesn’t help either. Some tooltips would go a long way. Letting the player know what something is used for before crafting it would be nice.
Like the chisel, what does that do? I played through over ten hours not needing it. Feels bad I spent tech tree points unlocking it. Another example is when farming you have to buy seeds. OK, no problem just head over to the seller and grab one. Jokes on you though! You need four seeds to plant a crop that isn’t stated anywhere until you try and place one. Are people on a budget aren’t allowed to farm? I was pretty annoyed when I had to run back and try and buy three more of each. Also because there are so many different systems your inventory is going to get out of hand quickly. In most of the spots, there’s storage so you can keep everything close but not the garden. Hasn’t this dev heard of a shed before? You’ll have almost a full inventory at all times and it requires hot-swapping items out to make room. By the time I reach a place I’m their fora different reason and often forget to put the item I wanted to save there in the chest. For the neat freaks, it can become a lot having to run around placing everything in the chest it belongs in. It also doesn’t help that the amount you craft is always one less than what you need. Have to get five simple iron parts? Well, those are only made in threes so be prepared to save the extra. It’s not that bad though because nothing goes to waste. You’ll be making the same parts for most of the game. Graveyard Keeper has one good feature that the crafting benches will pull from any nearby chests which are why having everything in its correct place is so important. Now, what some of the systems lack the game makes up for in the world or atmosphere.
All of the people you meet are pretty interesting and are visibly one of the seven deadly sins. It makes sense everyone has their own personal agenda. They’ll continually give you quests that serve their interests without hearing about your problems. The main character goes along with all this in hopes this will help him get a little closer to getting home. Some of the townsfolk only show up on certain days of the week and you have to keep it in mind when looking to talk to them. It’s actually great because with this many tasks it provides a deadline and forces you to focus on a task for when that person will be there. Thankfully the game keeps track of the days the people are available and also their quests. Although if you miss any particular part they won’t tell you and the quest log is insufficient. It’s just a small bit of text to jog your memory and I think that’s great. The map is also pretty big and has blocked off areas that, of course, you need to clean up before you can access them. But, it’s worth it and sectioning off these portions made me curious what was there, left a bit of mystery. There’s no obvious path to take though. Sure people will give you quests but they don’t have a deadline. There’s no one telling you to make sure to open the path north for any reason. Graveyard Keeper, the game, is perfectly happy to let you do whatever you want up to a point. There’s enough freedom that you can feel it but if you do go against the system too hard it will kickback.
I didn’t have any issues progressing the story and always focused on whatever task I thought I could accomplish. Other people definitely had trouble with this when they focused on only one element of the game. I appreciate the slight illusion of freedom I had though. I can’t have a review without mentioning the graphics, they’re so good. The unique design of all the characters is great. The pixel art is very well done! In particular, the weather effects are a highlight. The game has rain, wind, and fog. What the hell would a game about a graveyard be doing without fog!? Each adds atmosphere to the game and I loved walking out of the house and being pleasantly surprised by the weather. What you have to keep in mind is when you add wind you need to also give animation to anything that will be caught it in. It gives the world so much life. Now I know that’s a lot of time spent talking about the wind but when the developer put in the effort on something so small it’s important. It means they cared enough about their game to get those small details right.
Overall, even with the small issues, the game is good enough to easily overlook them. I believe the developer will be patching the game and releasing more content. I live to create lists and then cross items off of it so Graveyard keeper is perfect for me. Perhaps you’ll grind, perhaps you’ll waste some time, perhaps you’ll craft one hundred nails. That’s just the type of game it is. You’ll be crafting and running around a lot. It’s similar to Stardew Valley in that it has the same mechanics but it’s broader crafting can be overwhelming. Although, I don’t see it as any more of a grind than that game. If you like those types of games you’ll probably like Graveyard Keeper too.