Graveyard Keeper is more than just demented jokes about making a profit on faith and dead people. An entire crafting system lies beneath the surface for the restoration and maintenance of a church, a crematorium, a morgue, a medieval cemetery, and the graves of course. Within the first thirty minutes of playing, the jingling bell that indicates the talking donkey has brought a fresh corpse will have every player shouting with excitement.
The main character did not choose his role, but rather was thrust there after a tragic accident, and the best part is the player is left just as clueless. He awakens in another world with a lively town, home to plenty of people for building relationships. The first friend made is none other than Gerry, a talking skull with amnesia, who simply wants to be inebriated. The player is quickly whisked away into the game and there are a few paths to choose. One goal could simply be to increase the quality of the graveyard and church, or explore the map and repair all the bridges and roads, or increase relationship status with select non-player characters. No matter which path the player chooses, crafting is in the near future. That is the only way to achieve any goal.
The concept of a crafting system can be daunting for some gamers and might make them avoid a game altogether. Never fear. Lazy Bear Games and tinyBuild made what could have been a complex crafting system simple to understand. Some experience in crafting would be helpful. Most gamers are probably familiar with crafting games that eventually slow down after reaching more advanced levels and learning more complex items to craft. This is where Graveyard Keeper truly stands out among the rest. This game sinks its claws into you and holds on tight because there is always something to do. Go gain those skill points to craft the next level Furnace, or learn the new technology to build stone fence around the graves instead of wood. One player might want to gather resources to open the paths that connect the underground dungeons, while others prefer to gather intelligence and supplies to craft wine that will increase the relationship status with Gerry or the Inquisitor. Don’t forget the Bishop needs fish to eat. No matter what a player chooses to do, the crafting never stops. This game offers so much to do, with multiple ways of accomplishing it all, which adds to the allure of playing the game multiple times. Every facet of moving forward has prerequisites, and once accomplished always opens up the way to a new goal that the player will instantly want to tackle.
Not only is the game play outstanding, but also the graphics. Graveyard Keeper is played in an over-top view using complex, smooth sprites. Every limb moves individually and attention is given to detail from their expressions to their clothing. Most of the characters that the player is not able to interact with wear simple robes, but the rest are all unique. Some characters are only available on one of the six days, which can easily slip away by frequently returning home to sleep in order to regain energy. The environment is also gorgeous. Almost everything the player encounters in the world is a resource, and all of them are made distinct from one another. The iron ore does not resemble marble or stone, and each tree is designed differently to let the player know if they’ll receive a log from cutting it down, or only sticks. The colors are rich and beautiful, especially with the changes of the day to dusk, and from night to dawn. Some mornings the player might encounter fog that is difficult to see through, and some days are filled with loud, torrential downpours, though that won’t hinder the progress of burning that body to receive ash and salt. Control of the main character is simple with WASD, F and E as action buttons, and clicking with the left button to move items from the inventory bag to a box for storage. At times the game did stutter frequently enough to become a bit aggravating, but never so much that I wanted to stop playing.
The bell that signifies the drop off of a fresh corpse is just one of many sound effects that breathe life into Graveyard Keeper. From the thud of the axe smacking into a tree, to the ting of the pick axe colliding with stone, all of the sound effects are unique and immersive. While no voice acting is included, each character that has dialogue is given a sound effect as a hint to the sound of their voice. Much like every other aspect of this game, they are all unique and meant to bring laughter. The background music is relaxing, making it easy to slip into a trance of endless crafting while time slips away in real life. Some players might choose to turn this peaceful background music off and replace it with their own tracks.
Graveyard Keeper is a game I would highly recommend to casual players or anyone who is a fan of the crafting genre. A plethora of fun is offered in this game from building up the best graveyard, to maximizing happiness in relationships with all NPCs, or to crafting and gathering resources just for fun and to see how much can be built.