This title was reviewed on PC, where it is exclusive to.
In today’s gaming climate, it takes a lot for a game to be surprising. Whether it is oversaturation of genres or constant trains of sequels, games don’t end up being as unique as they should be. When Graveyard Keeper turned up in my inbox, I wasn’t expecting to be surprised by it, I mean, it is just a graveyard management game right? Well, the game managed to prove me wrong and be a genuinely surprising good time. Let’s unearth how Graveyard Keeper manages to be a solid title.
Right away, Graveyard Keeper looks brilliant. It goes for a 2D pixel art style, and it nails it on all fronts. The world brims with detail, from moss on the dilapidated church, to your character making footprints when walking on dirt. Even the game’s lighting is impressive, made more noticeable by the game’s day and night cycle, with weather effects, sunsets and lanterns all looking gorgeous. For a 2D game, there ain’t nothin’ ugly about Graveyard Keeper.
The story is actually quite simple. After being distracted by a text message, your character is hit by a car and wakes up in medieval times as the new Graveyard Keeper. Through dialogue, your character finds out that he must maintain the Graveyard in a bid to return home. It’s a fairly simple story, but it’s backed by a gallery of interesting and often funny characters, whether it’s Gerry the alcoholic skull who gives you advice in exchange for booze, or a sarcastic talking donkey who gives you fresh bodies every morning to prepare for burial. The characters here make the simple story way more fun to sit through in the long run.
As the title suggests, Graveyard Keeper has you look after a graveyard, although it does go a lot deeper than that. The game is largely open world, as your character has free reign to explore a lot of the game’s world right at the get go, although the game does have quests to help with progression. The early quests aren’t very good, often being boring fetch quests like give this person a letter and come back so I can give you a mug of beer to give to Gerry’ and this is exacerbated by the fact that it actually takes a fair bit of time to walk from the graveyard to the nearby village. The quests do get better though and some even hit you with a few ethical dilemmas, such as using proper burger meat or meat you’ve taken from ‘other sources’ for the witch burning festival.
My favourite part of Graveyard Keeper was actually the graveyard keeping itself. Your graveyard has a quality rating, and at the beginning it is very low. To maintain it, you have to make all of the graves in your graveyard look the part. There’s already a few there from the last keeper that are smashed up and in need of repair, and you’re gonna have to build your own plots when the talking Donkey drops off a new body to bury. There’s just something oddly satisfying about repairing the graveyard and making it a highlight of the village, as opposed to a dump.
The audio in Graveyard Keeper is solid if nothing to rave over. Sound effects for things like cutting down trees are well done and don’t get too grating. The game does lack voice acting, but instead opts for a Banjo-Kazooie/Star Fox-esque garble of noises for speech, which was charming and a little nostalgic I have to admit. The music is the star of the show in terms of audio, with it sounding quite relaxing, and honestly reminded me of Runescape a little bit.
Overall, Graveyard Keeper is a charming little game. While some of its quests are on the boring fetch-quest side, there’s plenty of fun and satisfaction to be had when it comes to actually taking care of the graveyard. The story is simple but the charming characters throughout make it a joy to playthrough, and the game looks amazing and has great music to boot, making Graveyard Keeper a nice surprise to have in my Steam library.