The first thing I did when playing Graveyard Keeper was sell a pound of human flesh. Well, I tried to at least. Apparently, that
Not a problem, how hard could it be to get a stamp? Turns out, exceedingly difficult largely because of how sidetracked I kept getting. Clean out the graveyard,
Graveyard Keeper is that kind of game.
Just as the slice-of-life novels wish to capture you in the boots of another the “life simulator role-playing game” (as I think a fair title for the genre) seeks to immerse you in the boots of a character by having you walk around and complete chores. Done well, it can be a somewhat cathartic experience as players feel the satisfaction of scheduling tasks and ticking things off a to-do, the essence of escapism. Done poorly it can be an intense exercise in frustration which eventually collapses into itself as structure is replaced with chaos. Graveyard Keeper straddles that line and honestly, I still don’t know whether I enjoyed it or just
As the title would suggest, you’ll be taking on the role of a local graveyard keeper. There’s a light story that details how you got this position that I won’t spoil but I will say that it had far more complexity to its plot than I was expecting. Dumped into a strange medieval town, you’re tasked with looking after the local graveyard. Digging graves, burying bodies hosting sermons once a week, the typical 9-5.
It’s very much in line with experiences such as
There are a lot of systems at work in this game as you try to balance NPC schedules, time of day, your energy, your income and your experiential growth. There are so many things going during any one day, which is fine, but Graveyard Keeper just doesn’t do a great job of explaining how many of these systems work and often hides crafting items behind a long list of arbitrary criteria. I took ages to find out how to get science points, spending in-game days wandering around trying to find a task that would reward them only to discover I first had to unlock the church. And then I needed to use the study desk. And then I need the study table. And then I needed to research blank paper. And so I got my blue, science tokens. Just a lot of loop holes to get to something that feels
My other problem is that the balancing feels kind of
So days have no structure as you wake up, spend all your energy on making two gravestones, and go back to sleep.
I’m aware that I’m harping on about this aspect but unfortunately this lack of control, the inability
A life-simulator role-playing game should have one quickly take control over themselves, maximising their efficiency and making the most out of every day. In Graveyard Keeper there are echoes of that, almost like that was the original plan but everyone got distracted and kept throwing more things into the stew instead of waiting for it to warm up first.
It’s a pity because as much as I can appreciate what Graveyard Keeper does well and how certain people will definitely get a lot of value out of it, it just wasn’t for me. And this is coming from someone who’s spent over 200 hours in Stardew Valley just growing peas. You might be able to look past these issues, but unfortunately, they just didn’t mesh with me.
Last Updated: July 4, 2019