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Graveyard Keeper Review – The Dead are a Business, and Business is a-Boomin’

Graveyard Keeper the Church and the Graveyard
Graveyard Keeper Review – The Dead are a Business, and Business is a-Boomin’
4.5

Platforms:

Microsoft Xbox One, Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Steam

Game Name:

Graveyard Keeper

Publisher(s):

tinyBuild Games

Developer(s):

Lazy Bear Games

Genre(s):

Adventure, RPG, Simulation

Release Date:

August 15th, 2018

Graveyard Keeper from Lazy Bear Games

Graveyard Keeper from Lazy Bear Games gives a warm first impression. Players will immediately sense a lot of similarities to popular indie blockbuster Stardew Valley. While it shares a lot of gameplay elements, Graveyard Keeper really is in a league of its own from the popular farming sim.

Graveyard Keeper Dead Horse Tavern

The Dead Walk

Let’s get straight to the point. Graveyard Keeper is not a farming simulation game. Of course it has farming, but farming isn’t the central focus of the title. The story begins with a bit of an existential conundrum: our beautifully-bearded main character finds himself alone in the dark. An equally dark figure informs him that he is now a graveyard keeper. He now needs to figure out on his own how to get home. Well, that takes care of that.

The focus of the game is revealed, which is of course, taking care of a graveyard and managing the adjacent church. Naturally, the graveyard is in a poor state of disrepair. After a slight tutorial from a church representative who visits once a week, players are then tasked with retrieving corpses a not-so-friendly donkey drops off. The corpses must then be autopsied. Useful organs must be harvested while doing as little damage to the cadaver as possible. The body must then be buried, and the quality of corpse, gravestone and grave fence will help improve the graveyard’s rating.

Graveyard Keeper Autopsy Table

But How Do Magnets Work?

A lot of Graveyard Keeper offers little to no explanation. Players must fumble around in the dark and make a lot of mistakes before substantial progress is made. In a similar fashion to Stardew Valley’s energy system, our graveyard keeper has an energy bar that depletes as he works. However, once the energy bar depletes, our keeper will not pass out. Food or potions can be crafted to replenish energy.

I found that the bar depletes rather quickly, particularly while crafting certain larger or rare items. The six days of the week will also pass by quickly, but if our keeper has energy available, he can stay up for days just puttering away.

The days of the week only weigh importance with story progression. Certain NPCs will only be available to speak to on certain days of the week. Each character you meet in Graveyard Keeper will not be trusting at first, and trust must be earned by constant fetch quests. The story itself is a little weak, but still a lot stronger than in Stardew Valley. Stardew Valley was a beautiful game because NPC interaction meant more than the actual storyline.

Graveyard Keeper can hold its own in terms of story, but it takes a long time before the story truly begins to fabricate and characters are tied together.

Graveyard Keeper talking to the Inquisitor

I Was Never Really Good at Arts and Crafts

All this time is spent crafting. Crafting items is hands-down the core gameplay mechanic in Graveyard Keeper. To say the crafting system is deep would be an understatement. It’s enormous. Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, not a lot of explanation is provided. A lot of time in between crafting is spent foraging for items – usually wood. There are a large variety of workstations able to be crafted outside our keeper’s house, with an even larger variety of items to craft.

The best word to describe this entire process is grinding. Even though the pacing in Graveyard Keeper is a lot quicker than in Stardew Valley, collecting and crafting items was an absolute grind. I spent a lot of time cutting down trees and harvesting iron ore. Farming was almost an afterthought, which I didn’t mind.

Graveyard Keeper Crafting Menu

There’s a lot to enjoy about Graveyard Keeper. The story is a more macabre take on the simulation genre, considering it revolves around caring for (and sometimes exhuming) the dead. If you aren’t a fan of crafting, I wouldn’t recommend this title. It’s not exactly entry-level for someone trying to get into these types of simulation games. However, if you’re looking for a complicated yet still somehow easy-going game to eat up countless hours, Graveyard Keeper is a fantastic choice. It consumed my soul, the same way as I forced my keeper to consume the flesh he harvested from the dead.

Yeah, that’s a thing. And no, it’s not that weird.

Graveyard Keeper is available via the Microsoft Store and Steam.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Watch the official trailer for Graveyard Keeper below:

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