What is there to be done when you are hit by a car and wake up in a medieval village? Apparently run the local cemetery and church. In Graveyard Keeper by Russian developer LazyBear Games, that is exactly the situation you find yourself in. The game has been described as a macabre Stardew Valley, but how does the church fit in a game with such a moniker?
In reimagined medieval Europe where the church is revered as the head of society—beneath the monarch, of course—it only makes sense to run a church if you are the newly appointed graveyard keeper. While it is heavily implied that it is Christian, it is not over the top or even portrayed in a manner that might turn non-Christians away.
The game is dark, but in an amusing way. Naturally, being the one in charge of all of the corpses, you have your own morgue. Set the covered body on the table and perform your autopsy to try and increase the quality of the dead before you bury them in your graveyard. This means removing organs, bones, and tissue. Even the flesh, which is great for cutting corners and costs when you have to make burgers for the next witch burning. Yes, you read that correctly. Once a week the Inquisitor will come to town and whine about how nobody is interested in witch burnings anymore, and eventually after some quests you are asked to sell some food to turn these dreary events into more of a festival. Fun times, the Middle Ages.
Once you bury the bodies, you may develop your crafting skills to create better tombstones and increase the overall quality of your graveyard. I am quite partial to the simple stone crosses, myself. You can also improve your church. Adding more pews, some candelabras, and even a confessional are all vital to growing your congregation each week. By the way, you are the pastor of your church. Sermons provide you with faith, which is needed for writing books and studying various materials, and of course donations. I have turned my church into a money machine. Plus seeing the people who show up in little monk robes is just adorable.
It can be odd to see the church play such a role in a game, particularly one that is dark and witty. Personally, I enjoy it. I feel as though many are afraid of representing religion, particularly Christianity, in media and it is not something that should be feared or avoided. It is presented in a fun, simple way that is not in your face, but it is still a very important aspect of the game. Graveyard Keeper is not afraid to be itself. It is a game that understands its purpose is to make the player chuckle and feel driven to keep playing in order to meet goals and unlock skills in the crafting tree. Go forth and keep your graveyard.
So, how is it?
Endless gameplay paired with funny characters, an interesting story, and a unique world makes Graveyard Keeper a solid title. Each of these elements paired with the game’s dark humor makes it great.