Developer: Lazy Bear Games
Review Context: I enjoy playing addicting games like Stardew Valley, as Stardew Valley was my favorite game of 2016.
Date of Playthrough: August 2018
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: GeForce GTX 950 2GB GDDR5 ACX 2.0 SC+
Resolution: 1280×720 (Windowed)
Disclosure: This review was based off of a review copy.
Graveyard Keeper, developed by Lazy Bear Games, is a game that I had heard a little bit about earlier in 2018 while it was in alpha, but since it was in alpha it had its fair share of issues that is to be expected. Still, it received a lot of hype, and the prospect that another game with a similar style of gameplay to Stardew Valley was upon us with a different theme was very appealing to me.
At the beginning of Graveyard Keeper you find yourself tasked to be in charge of a graveyard in a supernatural world after a tragic event. You are confused, but you start your quest to “find your way home” by completing tasks. As someone in charge of a graveyard it is your duty to pickup corpses, bring them to the morgue, extract body parts, bury corpses in the graveyard, decorate the graves, or in some cases burn and cremate corpses. It is soon after being assigned graveyard duty that you are assigned to re-open and upgrade the church. The church and graveyard both have different ratings, with the total graveyard rating depending on the quality of the corpses that are buried in a specific grave, in conjunction with how well the graves are decorated. After you are successful in opening the church you will be able to give sermons, which can give both money donations and a Faith currency that can be used.
The world of Graveyard Keeper is big with many NPCs that have many tasks for you to complete. With so many side quests in the game you will be pushed and pulled in many directions, forcing you as a player to decide how to spend your time. Although the game has a main story and ultimate quest to work towards, there is a NPC menu full of all your NPC quests that does little to delineate the main quest from the side quests, which can cause your priorities to be scrambled. For every new player, I strongly suggest focusing on your church and graveyard rating in the beginning to get things rolling. That’s not to say that other NPC quests aren’t useful, as they are in some ways, but they are attention diversions that can be avoided in the beginning.
During the course of gameplay you will most likely be doing a chain of NPC quests, but in Graveyard Keeper astrology is a huge component of the game. In the top left of your screen you will see different symbols cycle through each day, with each symbol representing a specific NPC that is available. For example, there is a purple sun symbol that signifies the day you can preach in church. The symbols during the week can shape how you spend your day, or you can just ignore them most of the time. How seriously the symbols are followed every passing day in the game is completely up to the player, but progress with specific NPCs wont happen until you meet them and turn in their item requests on their day. I started my playthrough not taking the symbols seriously, but in the late game you will never want to miss a day to preach. Now in the late game I follow symbols much closely, and to be honest, playing that way gives the playthrough a bit more direction. One very unique element about the NPCs in this game is that there is a clear supply and demand system, meaning item prices and availability change, and the money isn’t deep. For me, I cleaned out the cash of one NPC, so I can’t sell anything to that person anymore.
Like other games in the genre, you have energy that depletes every time you do a task. Thankfully, you can’t lose energy by walking, as you will be doing a lot of walking back and forth during your playthrough. There are items that can be crafted to restore some energy, but most of the time you will be using the bed in your home to do that, which also saves your game. Unfortunately, in Graveyard Keeper every task takes so much energy that you will find yourself hitting the bed to replenish energy quickly after starting a task in order to finish it. When you are higher level proficiency in certain areas crafting lower level items will use less energy, but if you are crafting higher tier items you will run out of energy quick.
The major way to progress in Graveyard Keeper is by using the Technology tree, which is used to unlock new buildings and new materials that can be harvested, gathered, or crafted, and give your character new perks to make your character more proficient in certain areas. You unlock tech by using technology points, by as the game says, “simply doing anything.” This is true, as you can spend time chopping wood, mining ore, gathering stone, or crafting items as tech points in different colors drop as the actions happen. The three colors red, green, and blue represent tech points that can be had from different tasks. Unfortunately, the blue points, which represent spiritual knowledge, is very hard to come by and made my playthrough much slower than it should have been. Unless changes to the game are made, I expect this to continue for new players. There is a Study table that can be used to get these tech points, with each item telling you what type of points you will get. Unfortunately, this is also not explained very well in the game.
Graveyard Keeper is in a very weird state, as I still find the game incredibly fun, but the game is in desperate need of a few things. There is no way to transport many items at a time, like a wheelbarrow, to move large crafting materials back and forth. This forces you to stack them on the floor and push them vertically for efficiency. This is probably one of the most glaring issues with the game that makes me question how such an oversight was made. Another thing that is annoying is inventory space and item stack size, as you will run out of space very quickly. Although you can build more trunks to store items, the inventory management can be incredibly annoying. Another thing that is a bit excessive are all the blocked passages, which seem a bit overkill. There is one area of the game that I haven’t spent much time on, partially due to how it is presented, and that is the dungeon. I am forty-seven hours in and I have barely scratched the dungeon in this game, due to how deep the game is.
From a technical standpoint, I really like the pixel graphics of this game. I even like the graphics better in this than Stardew Valley. The sharp pixel graphics are an underrated element of this game that needs to be appreciated. The sound effects in the game are pretty good, as well as a decent main background tune that fits the theme of the game. There is no multiplayer, but the game comes with a stream interaction feature that I haven’t tried yet, but will eventually. The control scheme is also pretty good, but if you’re unhappy with the current setup you can use custom keybinds.
Graveyard Keeper is a fun game, but a game that I have no doubt in my mind will be better months from now. Graveyard Keeper gives the player many choices of things to focus on, which can be a blessing and a curse for this kind of game. Even in its current state, the game is still addicting and many hours will fly by without you noticing, so I recommend it.
Similar Games Liked:
Stardew Valley (PC)