In the beginning you die. You're going about your normal every day life in the 'real world' when you get hit by a car. You then wake up in another world. You are shown around the town and are introduced to the people you will need to work with, buy from and sell materials to, and do quests for. Outside the town you are shown to a local small chapel, where you are given the assignment to care for the church and graveyard. You are given the job of leading church meetings once a week as well. It's a simple job, and you're the only one to take care of it.
There is apparently a plague ship parked in the harbor outside of town. And as part of your job as caretaker of the graveyard and church you are in charge of taking care of burying the bodies in the graveyard surrounding the church. But there is something odd about the bodies you will be embalming and burying. There are negative aspects to the bodies that you are brought. If you bury a body with negative aspects they could end up corrupting the graveyard or could start causing problems. Once the problems would start a ghost appears to you at the graveyard, asking you to dig up the problematic bodies and either take out the problems or burn them in pyres. Oh, and you meet a talking donkey that will bring you bodies from the plague ship and a talking skull that serves as the pseudo narrator and quest giver for your time in the new world.
You get set up in a small shack just moments away from the church. You have a small work area where you can work on creating items for the graveyard, such as crosses and fences for the graves. You have areas where you can put the cut lumber and slabs of stone, as well as areas where you can use the raw materials to create the items to improve your life. As you progress you will be able to upgrade basically everything, but I'll get to that later.
One of the first places you will visit often is the bar. That is where you will take the burial certificates for the bodies you bury at the church. It's tough work, and you're the one getting paid to do it. Eventually that process will become more of residual income than your main source of money, so make sure that you keep those certificates whenever you bury someone.
At the bar you will find many colorful characters that will give you quests. Many of the characters will only show up at the bar certain days of the week, so make sure you keep your eye on the calendar so you don't miss that NPC you've been waiting for all week. As you complete quests your relationship with the characters will improve, opening more options for more quests or making it so you can purchase better items.
One of the main tasks you will be handling in this game is caring for the dead. You will have them delivered to you by the talking donkey, who shows up, drops the bodies off, then heads back to the ship. Once the body shows up it will start to decay, so time is of the essence. The longer the bodies sit the less and less valuable or viable they will be. You can haul the bodies around your graveyard as shown below.
Once you have the body you will slap it down on your autopsy table. From there you can take out different parts of the body, like the skin, fat, meat, bones, brain, skull, and so forth. As you begin your clumsy hands with butcher the removal of certain body parts, making the body worth less and less in the graveyard. But as you progress through the game you can become a better and better mortician, making it easier to take the parts out without ruining the body.
Each part that you take out will be valuable for something else you can make. The fat, for example, can be squished into oil which you can use to make other items or you can sell for money. The skin can be used to create paper. The meat you can wrap in paper, stamp with a seal, and sell to the town for food. There are a lot of unpleasant things you can do with the body parts, so I try not to think about it too much.
Once the body has been prepared you will haul it to the graveyard for burial. You'll need to designate the burial plots, as you have limited room. This is where digging up bodies comes into play. As you run out of burial spots in your graveyard, you can remove those that are causing issues or aren't as beneficial as they could be in order to make room for better bodies. I would take the bad bodies, remove everything I wanted from them, then burn them on the pyres. The later into the game you get the more you'll be digging up old bodies to make room for better bodies.
The further you progress into the game the more you will upgrade all of your things. Your low level crafting tables will be replaced by better ones. The forges will be replaced to make room for higher level forges that can smelt anything you need. And as you upgrade your house you can make things that will make life easier and easier. But in order to earn that ease of life you will have to earn it by making more and more complex items. Where the lower level items take a few nails and some wood the higher level items can take polished marble, faith, jewels, and smelted silver or gold. Many of these things are difficult to make, but in the end most of them are worth the work.
As shown above you can get some pretty nice gear. You can upgrade to steel items, which will last longer when digging graves, mining stone or ore or coal, or chopping trees. The better the item the more efficient it is, so you will waste less and less energy as you go about your work. As mentioned above, though, the higher tier the item the longer it will take to make or research, and the more expensive it will be to keep up.
You'll be busy farming, preaching, and managing a graveyard. Those tasks alone, much less any of the other quests the NPC's will give you, will take up basically all your free time. You'll find that you'll spend entire days or weeks trying to complete a single complex task. But if you get bored, there's more to the game than that. If you complete the right quests you can enter a dungeon and slay all the monsters infesting the floors below your land. The lower you go the stronger the monsters will get, so it'll be more and more imperative that you spend time upgrading your gear. Strong armor will protect you, a better sword will kill the monsters faster, food will keep your energy up as you chop your way through the bats and slimes and haunted armor and spiders, and the health potions will keep you going when you're being mauled by the beasties. Even with better armor you'll find yourself being cautious as you delve deeper and deeper.
The more you complete, the more you take care of and upgrade the church and graveyard, the more quests you finish, the more freedom you have to do as you will. You'll have access to better sermons to perform at church, so you can earn different benefits. The more you upgrade the church the more people will show up at your sermons. The more you upgrade your autopsy area the better the bodies will be when you autopsy them. You'll be able to use embalming fluids to make them more valuable to the graveyard. Or you could make them your helpers.
It's difficult to put any amount of time into this game and not feel like you're making progress. Whether it's spending time upgrading the church and graveyard, making items to sell with the merchant, making items for your own needs, or doing quests for the NPC's, it almost always feels like you're working towards something. It is also very easy to sink hours upon hours into this game just to create that one perfect item that you needed to complete a single quest. If you enjoy seeing the fruits of your labor, this game may be one for you.
There are a couple of things that I think could be improved upon. First off you only move at one speed. No matter how many hours you put into the game, you move at the same speed. Other games will allow you to get mounts, cars, horses, or so forth, but in this game it's you and your own two feet. The other item that got irritating very quickly was inventory management. It was very easy to fill your inventory and all chests with items that were more or less valuable. Between the placement of the chests and the placement of the work stations you had to be very creative with your placement if you wanted to maximize your space.
In the end this is a pretty decent game. If you're looking for a game that's more about farming, go check out Stardew Valley. If you're looking for a dungeon diving game, this is not the game for you. This is a decent midway between a few genres, and it's pretty good for what it does. Later in the game you can automate a lot of your work, but getting to that point can be a bit of a grind. There are many tasks that were repetitive enough that they were still doable while watching Netflix on my tablet or in another screen. Even after more than 30 hours in game on a single run I still felt like I wasn't getting anywhere near to the end of the game. It's a great game if you have a lot of patience and a ton of time to kill.
Graveyard Keeper is a decent game for it's price. It's similar to other farming or management games while being unique enough that it's not forgettable. If this game is on sale, I'd suggest picking it up. It's definitely worth giving a shot if you have the time to spend.
The gameplay is simple and easy but quickly becomes monotonous and repetitive.
The music is fun and adds to the atmosphere. It isn't too overbearing or too distracting at vital points of the game, and helps distract from the monotony when you're just going about your business.
The controls are intuitive, and are simple to learn and master.
The story is pretty shallow and simple, with little driving you to finish anything in any quick pace. You can do as much or as little as you like.
Once you have finished the story there is little driving you to replay the game unless you want to optimize the farm or maximize anything specifically.
PROS / CONS
- Simple Gameplay
- Simple Controls
- Decently Quick Progression
- Little Guidance
- Item management
- Often Confusing Progression
- No game progression assistance