My name is Raptures Lost and I have had an addiction, it’s called Graveyard Keeper. Released in 2018, it’s a simulation RPG that was developed by Lazy Bear Games and published by tinyBuild. The player takes the role of a character who is hit by a car and finds himself taking care of a dilapidated medieval cemetery. If you’re a fan of games like Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon, this is the game for you.
In Graveyard Keeper your primary quest is the cemetery plot. Initially, it’s overrun with boulders, trees, stumps, and weeds. The player must work to clear them in order to restart its operation. This involves tending to graves and even the church in hopes of attracting the locals. You must do this to generate revenue that comes in the form of donations. The money you receive is entirely dependent on the quality of your graveyard. You can increase the standard by ensuring you bury corpses of the highest grade. Also, by creating graves made from the rarest materials.
Other than that, you must manage the character’s time and energy levels. Whether you are crafting materials, foraging the land or simply digging graves, everything is a strain on your energy. Thankfully, it can easily be refilled by eating food or sleeping. If that wasn’t enough you can choose to interact with the various residents of the small village and complete their many quests. The game is open-ended, allowing the player to take on activities as they see fit. There’s even combat, a day/night cycle and a weather system.
I keep saying this but I love the Game Pass program. Without it, I never would have played let alone heard of Graveyard Keeper. However, as much as I recommend it be aware that it has a steep learning curve. Much like any game of this type, there are a lot of systems to get your head around. I won’t lie to you, it’s extremely overwhelming at first. Still, I implore you to stick with it. Be patient and you’ll be rewarded with a delightful experience.
Progression in Graveyard Keeper is slow, almost to a standstill in the early hours. Still, that’s the whole point. This isn’t a game to rush through. At no point does it attempt to stress you with time limits. There is no penalty as time passes in the game. You simply take your sweet time, relax and enjoy. My experience with the game was very relaxing. Just be prepared with the knowledge that there is going to be plenty of grinding involved and it isn’t going to hold your hand. However, it never bored me. I enjoyed thinking of different strategies to approach certain situations.
Another positive is the beautiful art style. The top-down view compliments this type of game wonderfully. Then there’s the delightful music that really sets the relaxing tone. Although, this can get very repetitive if you play to full completion.
On the negative side, the story is a little thin. Still, I was invested in helping my character attempt to return home. The conclusion is anti-climactic, even the game itself makes fun of it. There’s a nice moment when all of the people you have helped come together though. Completing each of their quests offers fun new challenges. Also, their dialogue is written with a real sense of humor.
I am fully aware that this game has had a lot of patches since release. I have read a couple of horror stories surrounding lost saves, broken quests and game breaking glitches. It’s a huge shame that it had so many issues at that time. All I can talk about is the current version of the game on Xbox One. I managed to 100% complete the game with no problems at all. However, there are some technical issues. Stuttering/slow down problems plague the late-game sections but it’s playable. I can’t imagine not having fast travel which was added in a patch.
Regardless, this is a game that you could easily play for over 100 hours if you seek the best graveyard and church ratings. Thankfully, the achievement list is generous enough that you can have it done in just over half that time.
Overall, Graveyard Keeper is a real hidden gem. It gave me fond memories of Harvest Moon except with a dark twist. I was very impressed by the complexity of its many systems. Getting to grips with them is a very satisfying experience. I’m actually saddened that my time with it is done, I’d love to see some expansions in the future.
The Final Score - 8/10
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