Advertised as “the most inaccurate medieval cemetery management sim of the year,” I went into Graveyard Keeper expecting to find something weird, funny, and moderately inappropriate. What I found was something… very close to it.
Graveyard Keeper is indeed a resource management game made by Lazy Bear Games and tinyBuild, who are also the creators behind the fighter management game Punch Club.
You are thrown right into the game, witnessing our protagonist’s rather unfortunate fate, which leads him into a curious conversation with Death himself. Suddenly, we are being teleported back in time (year 204 to be exact) and are assigned the role as a graveyard keeper. You receive in your possession an old, abandoned house on a hill, with an even older and rustic graveyard next to it.
Enjoy your own little bizarre and slightly disturbing utopia by creating a garden, tidying up your graveyard and home. However, to do these things you need to unlock different technologies. As your skills and experience as a graveyard keeper expand, you will also unlock different ways of preserving and taking care of the bodies you receive.
Research and upgrade your characters’ skills by collecting red, green, and blue «points» – which kinda look like regular ol’ gems. Different gems are required for different techniques:
Red: represents hand-crafting skills.
Green: knowledge about the nature of things and nature itself.
Blue: spiritual knowledge of the immaterial world.
Collecting these points takes quite some time in the beginning, making the game feel very slow-paced. However, once I learned more skills, the game naturally became more interesting.
The fact that almost every single action in the game consumes energy feels like both a blessing and a curse. While this is not necessarily a problem in itself, one might discuss that each action takes too much energy. This becomes a little tedious when you eventually have plenty of tasks to do. A grave situation indeed!
Visually, Graveyard Keeper has a lovely retro style design. With that said, the geographical design of the game feels quite big. It feels like the distance between each relevant quest site is too far, and it takes me forever to get there; maybe an auto-walk button would come in handy. But hey, at least the game has really pleasant music that I can listen to while I walk!
The voice effects of the characters are funny and reminded me a little bit of the voices in Undertale. The characters want you to do quests for them, and in return, you gradually build a friendly relationship with them. While the dialogue has many good intentions of being funny, I cannot exactly say that it tickled my funny-bone…
Even though the dialogue isn’t top-notch, Graveyard Keeper has a morbid sense of humour. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and that is kinda refreshing. For example, the local tavern is in dire need of meat for their delicious meals. And well, since you have flesh in abundance, you don’t really have to tell them where it comes from, right? … Right?
As you progress further in the game, you will also receive different recipes you can cook, so that you can restore the lost energy. Perhaps you might have some use for the flesh that you’ve been extracting too – if you know what I mean.
Being the graveyard keeper feels like a minor task in the game, compared to the tons of other stuff you can do: keeping a farm, a garden, working as a blacksmith to fix around your home, and doing various quests for the other villagers. The game runs in a day-and-night cycle, with different weather, even though I didn’t get the feeling it affected anything regarding gameplay. The characters’ availability, on the other hand, depends on which day of the week it is, where each day is indicated by its own symbol.
Moreover, Graveyard Keeper can become rather tedious. One example is being able to only pick up one thing at a time when you have to move quite a distance, making each task long and dreary. If I could pick up two things at a time, that would reduce the workload. If these glitches could be fixed, being a graveyard keeper wouldn’t be such a dead-end job…
Though I must say, after I’ve laid my character to sleep to regenerate his energy bar, I kept finding myself automatically playing another day. Looks I’m just dying to play more… Because even though the game definitely has some flaws, it is nevertheless an entertaining game with a lot of potential.
I believe that the game could become excellent if it received more updates. If you like grinding games, Graveyard Keeper will definitely give you many hours of entertaining gameplay to dig into.
P.S: I hope my editor doesn’t give me the graveyard shift after this!
Graveyard Keeper is available on PC and Xbox One.