Review: Graveyard Keeper (Computer)

Reviewed by Chris Knight, posted Aug 24, 2018
Aug 24, 2018
  • Release Date (NA): August 15, 2018
  • Release Date (EU): August 15, 2018
  • Publisher: tinyBuild
  • Developer: Lazy Bear Games
  • Genres: Simulation, Role-playing
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone 10 and up
  • PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
  • Also For: Xbox One
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Do you enjoy burying corpses? How about autopsies? Well if you do it's time to make some morally questionable decisions in this very historically inaccurate management sim!
Chris Knight

Graveyard Keeper is a wacky game that puts you in command of one of the finest jobs you’ll never know you probably wanted; graveyard keeping. Yes, that’s right. It’s probably not as glamorous as it first sounds, but it is definitely unique. As a man who was stripped from his normal everyday modern life, and transported to the medieval ages, this is apparently your ticket home.

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A Dream Job

As the name suggests, your character has suddenly become the new proprietor of the local cemetery. You’re tasked with burying the bodies brought to you by a rather odd talking donkey. What you do with those bodies between then and putting it in the grave, however, is up to you. As you soon find out, bodies have all sorts of useful stuff in them. Who knew? If you enjoy your pocket weighing more than your ethics, you’re free to help yourself to each cadaver buffet, though that will potentially affect its rating. Yes, only the finest bodies are truly fit to be buried in your graveyard, as they can confer points that judge the overall beauty of the property. Though, that’s why when you make a little slip up, there’s always the local river to carry away your problems. Probably to no ill effect to the nearby town. Probably.

Aside from your thriving cemetery, you have a whole host of things you could also do for fun, or to make money. Mostly just to make money. Once your graveyard is pretty enough, you can run your own church, for some reason. People tip surprisingly great in those times. Otherwise you’ve got all sorts of crafting, gathering, fishing, farming, and more to do. You can raise bees, turn questionable ingredients into even more questionable potions. There are all sorts of areas to open and explore, with dozens of NPCs to find and befriend. As you play, the more things continue to open up.

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Medieval graveyards never looked so fine

If all of that wasn’t enough, you also have several adequately sized tech trees with a variety of perks, recipes, workstations and more to unlock. These allow you to expand your experience at your own pace, and in the direction you’d like. Tech points are gained from nearly everything you do, so you’re constantly able to expand your knowledge bit by bit as you bounce from project to project.

Many of the small gripes I had with Graveyard Keeper eventually showed themselves right out the door. The game features 6 distinct days, but no seasons or curfew. At first this was a little jarring and disappointing, however I eventually realized I was just conditioned for stress and abuse with those systems. Graveyard Keeper has a much more relaxed pace about it because of the omission of these two things, and I think it’s a better experience for it. Stamina can also get in the way in the early game. As you become better, smarter, and more efficient, you’re able to greatly negate this. On top of that, you quickly gain access to cooking which will make stamina griping mostly just a distant memory.

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Stunning high-definition corpses (though not really)

Visually, the game is also quite nice looking; it’s got a fairly simple art style, but with a lot of care and attention put into the details. Mornings often sport a dense fog, and there are plenty more things that go on to make your time in the world a little more atmospheric. The accompanying music wasn’t anything that blew me away, but it was fittingly dreary and added a bit of a down-to-earth contrast compared to a lot of the wacky humorous things that tend to play off the time period.

Perhaps I should take my brain to the ol’ autopsy table and give it a few pokes, but I can’t really think of much else negative to say about Graveyard Keeper. The “farming-sim” genre of video games usually don’t tend to interest me, but more times than I can count Graveyard Keeper kept me up well past midnight. There was always, always, just one more thing to do, or one more thing to discover/unlock. Always something to work towards. The writing could be a little stronger, but it doesn’t detract from the overall experience.

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Overall, it’s just a very fun game to explore and have fun in. Graveyard Keeper won’t hold your hand, and that’s something I enjoy in a modern game. You’re dropped off in this crazy medieval world, shown the basics, and then given absolutely free reign over your own destiny. You’re free to do as you please. Thanks to the lax time constraints, this allows you to explore at your leisure, as well as complete projects at your own pace. Anyone more used to the heavy-handed guiding of similar games might be a little lost at first, but it doesn’t take long to settle in and find your place in this strange new world.

Verdict
Pros
+ Unique theme
+ Wonderful art style
+ Talking donkey
+ Tons to do and explore
+ Non-stressful time schedule
Cons
- Clearly has a few unimplemented areas that were intended to be
- Won't hold your hand (only really a con for those used to similar titles)
- Has some weak writing in places
8 Presentation
Has a lovely aesthetic and well-defined art style. Fitting music as well.
8 Gameplay
Plenty to do, and to find. Presents itself as a graveyard keeping sim, but extends far past that. Plenty of NPCs to interact with, and decisions to make. No strict time schedule helps make the game much more relaxed.
8
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
A nice relaxed, and horribly inaccurate, management sim. Live your dream of becoming the owner of your very own graveyard! Really fun and addictive game. I was blown away by the sheer amount of stuff to do. As someone who doesn't typically enjoy this genre, this game managed to keep me addicted well into the night. If you enjoy talking donkeys and morally questionable decisions, this is the game for you.


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