While browsing the XBOX GamePass catalogue, I came across one of the current hot titles on the indie gaming market. Revered by ID@XBOX, Graveyard Keeper, is a uniquely inaccurate cemetery management simulation game, developed by Lazy Bear Games and published by tinyBuild.
The game play layout reminds me strongly of Stardew Valley but with a much darker over tone. You have to maintain a graveyard… gardens… the church… your own property… among others. Much like Stardew Valley where you have to maintain your farm.
Graveyard Keeper is a unique game that takes on a concept not commonly found in the gaming industry these days – a feature of the ghoulish kind. At the start of the game you are rushing home to see your love and you get hit by a car. You wake up, greeted by a man with a red eye, who says you have merely turned a chapter in your life... and you are now the Graveyard Keeper. He instructs you to dig up the grave behind your house and that’s how you meet Gerry, a talking skull.
Gerry is sort of like your sidekick/in game helper (a friendly floating skull head). His main job is to help you navigate the game world and the various tasks, in order to find your way back home — to your love. This comes at a price of course. Sometimes it can be as simple as a beer, but even can be wine or something more intense to meet his cravings. You start to realize that Gerry, even in the afterlife has a thick craving for his alcoholic tendencies.
Your first task set to you by Gerry is to take the dead body that was just dropped off beside your property and take it into the morgue, wherein you will harvest “meat” from the body. After you character gets over that revulsion of the idea, it is now time to bury the body. You carry the body over to the graveyard and pick a plot from the blueprint table. You dig the grave and put the body in the grave, followed by covering the body with dirt.
You eventually meet the Bishop, who wants you to clean up the graveyard as it is in disrepair. You want to clean up the graveyard, because if you do a good enough job, you get access to the church. He tells you that you get a burial certificate for every body you bury and and to sell it to the tavern owner to make money.
You travel to the town to meet the Tavern owner to sell your burial certificate for some cash
Capitalism is the name of the game. Everyone has an angle to make money or some gain from this, including you. Even the donkey that brings you dead bodies eventually wants carrots.
The main goal in Graveyard Keeper is to do whatever it takes to get home and back to your love. This could mean such things as selling the “meat” and other parts you are harvesting from the bodies. Which is illegal without the royal stamp of approved meat which you can get a forgery of one by nefariousness means.
All these tasks consume energy…. the digging… the burying….even combat and even the making of gravestones. You have a dedicated energy bar that will deplete when you perform tasks. Like any normal character, you will need to maintain this by eating and sleeping accordingly. Allowing yourself to get fatigued, makes you utterly incapable of doing anything more than walking around — which can be hazardous if you suddenly come across the need to battle.
Graveyard Keeper has a progression system where you collect red, green and blue gems for doing certain tasks. Such tasks can include chopping a tree, digging a grave, mining rock and ore. You can spend these gems to upgrade yourself from something as simple as forging, to something as complex as advanced forging. Of course everything is leveled and unlocked by more minor skills first.
Overall, I found this game quite enjoyable, though can be a bit confusing in the beginning. The more you play, the more the concept and gameplay makes sense. I have sunk endless amounts of hours into Graveyard Keeper, It is the kind of game that you can get so engrossed in, that you don’t even notice real time passing by. I’ve spent an enjoyable evening playing, to suddenly realizing it is two o’ clock in the morning. The drive to keep playing stems from the desire to unlock more and know more about the story that your characters path is unfolding. It is like a really good series on Netflix….you need to keep going cause you just need to know more…see more…have more.
If you enjoyed Stardew Valley or Minecraft, I’d strongly recommend giving Graveyard Keeper a try. Graveyard Keeper is now available on XBOX Live Marketplace, XBOX Game Pass and STEAM.
Medieval Ghoulish Fun
An addictive sandbox RPG that makes you play outside the normal realm of game concept and draws you in for an endless adventure of the ghoulish kind. Nothing is more entertaining than having to "farm" a graveyard and go around helping locals with their twisted tasks to make a quick buck.