While browsing Steam I saw this game and thought to myself “why not? should be relatively short and sounds fun.” BOY WAS I FUCKING WRONG. Honestly, this is why I never play games in this genre. I always go sucked in and then 45 hours go by and then I’m angry about how much time I wasted. Anyway, Graveyard Keeper looks good, is fun to play but when you look a bit closer you see the flaws.
Graveyard Keeper is a graveyard themed RPG, simulator. Developed by Lazy Bear Games and published by tinyBuild. The game is on ALL the platforms and retails for $19.99 (at least on PC).
I don’t think the protagonist of this game has a name because he changes twice throughout the entirety of the game. You are The Keeper, a man who I think was hit by a car and traveled NOT to the pearly white gates but to a alternate reality where it is the 17th century and the graveyard business is booming. The object of the game is to “go home” and The Keeper aims to do whatever he can to get himself back into the arms of his significant other. The Plot thickens with history of lost families, witch burning’s and ultimately an orphan that likes to sacrifice things. as The Keeper delves further into necromancy as he can reintroduce the dead to a new life of slave labor to help their master achieve his goal (I didn’t take this route in fear of the church figuring out).
To complete this journey back into the arms of his lover, Graveyard man needs to talk to almost everyone in the town and that is a lot of fucking people, almost too many to keep track of sometimes. To name a few, there is: The bar owner, his wife, a farmer, Snake, the Astrologer, the Witch, the Priest, the Inquisitor, the blacksmith. Christ, and they all have their own pseudo- secondary plots that all eventually come full circle later on during the game.
This is where game play gets mixed in. The people of The Town are in a shitty place economically and they need your help because you are the only person in the world that has the ability to LITERALLY DO EVERYTHING. The Keeper will eventually know writing, alchemy, woodworking, stone-masonry, cooking, beekeeping, mining, ETC. All of this matters because the NPC’s of The Town need your help very much to prosper. Most of the NPC’s can only be visited during a certain day of the week that is shown on the top left part of the screen. The sundial also shows the time of day and night so the player can judge when to get ready for the day when the people of the village open their businesses.
Learning all of these abilities cost points to their respective areas: Red being hand-crafted skills, green being the knowledge of nature and blue for tech points. These points are awarded after doing a task in that appropriate field. Chop down a tree? Red points, make some nice looking stone? Red and blue points are awarded. These points rack up and then you may purchase an upgrade from a HUGE array of skills.
The easiest explanation of the game play is to mine the quarry for the stone, bring the stone to your home, break the stone into blocks of stone, sculpt the stone into carved stone then from the carved stone produces a beautiful headstone for a grave. Everything requires resources.
Most of your days in Graveyard Keeper are spent running around your property, maintaining the graveyard and harvesting the resources around the area to upkeep each section. Early on the Priest allows you to upgrade the church so you can hold more corpses, so you spend a lot of time building grave fences and headstones for the deceased. The longer part of the game is dedicated to serving the people of The Town. From building a spooky sacrificial room and stories about The Great Blast to listening to the memories of the Astrologers daughter and grand daughter.
For the most part, WASD moves Graveyard Guy, F and E are interact keys, so they allow you to craft and work on tasks, talk to people. The Graveyard Legend needs to sleep sometimes to regenerate spent stamina.
I usually do not play games like this for good reasons. These simulation games take a lifetime to finish and they repeat until the game is done. I literally had a dream last night about how I was going to get the marble from the quarry so I can sculpt it for the Priest so I can get a step closer to beating the game. It’s not really the games fault for that, I just played too much of it and I wanted it to be over.
There is something about these simulation games that make it worth it to play, maybe its the fascination around having a job that I will never actually do and the praise that I get from the NPC’s when I deliver him a piece of stamped human meat ready for consumption. Every NPC feels real with their quirky dialogue and their disdain for this life. The little happiness meter goes up and I go back to the mind numbing grind of trying to grow gold quality onions for the burgers that I have to give to the Inquisitor for his witch burning to attract more people. This is the kind of game that I play to unwind. I sit at my desk, move Twitch to my second monitor and just play until I get tired. You BLINK and 2 hours went by. Graveyard Keeper is a lengthy game. It took me around 40 hours to complete and the entire time I was having fun.
For the record, I will always remember when the Priest said to me, in regard to bread and ceramic bowls, that “apparently poor people need to eat too.”