There are many novels and video games that refer to the Middle Ages, a rather controversial historical period, but which certainly contains a great charm. Many of you, reading those books or playing those titles, have dreamed of finding yourself in the midst of all those knights in shining armor, challenging the sacred inquisition or simply striking incandescent iron on an anvil to forge a blade with sensational characteristics. . And it is precisely for this reason that the independent study Lazy Bear Games, after developing a successful game like Punch Club, he decided to create an adventure with a strong medieval flavor thus giving life to Graveyard Keeper. As many of you may have guessed from the title, this work does not allow us to live the adventures of a knight, but rather those of a member of the Church or at least of someone who lives in close contact with the clergy: in fact we will impersonate a humble gravedigger. As such we will have to worry about preparing the corpses to face their journey to the afterlife, but not infrequently we will be asked to do some small "favor" to the men of science or to meet the constant need for "top quality" meat. country inn. Are you therefore ready to dive into this adventure to discover all its qualities and criticalities?
It all starts nowadays: our protagonist is quietly crossing the street looking at his smartphone and thinking about the nice birthday present he will bring to his beloved today when ... Sbaaaam! A truck hits him… If you are wondering, yes, you are dead, but Death has other plans in store for you. In fact, instead of taking a trip to the other world, you will literally be catapulted into another world where time has stopped in the Middle Ages. The grim reaper has brought you here to replace the previous gravedigger who disappeared under mysterious circumstances and your goal will be to find a way to recover your old life, thus returning to your normal daily routine. Accompanied by Gerry, a talking skull who unfortunately suffers from amnesia, you will be called upon to make more or less questionable choices. (for example, selling human flesh by passing it off as pork, or breaking the law of the Church by selling or otherwise exchanging bones and organs with the most savvy scholars in the village) and you will have the opportunity to meet influential people such as the sacred inquisitor, who more than one volta will invite you to take part as a spectator in its sacred bonfires. All of this will serve you to find out more about the past of the previous gravedigger and to find a way back to your old life.
Graveyard Keeper seems to get a lot of inspiration, albeit taking a different path, from titles like Harvest Moon or the more recent Stardew Valley. In fact, the player's aim will not only be to dissect the corpses that will be brought to him as well and better, but will have to try his hand instead with a complex crafting system which will allow him, after having accumulated the necessary experience, to build machinery for the creation of the most disparate tools. During your day you will have to cut trees, look for iron ores containing precious minerals, cultivate and, of course, also carry out your profession as a gravedigger, choosing the best way to bury or get rid of the bodies that will be brought to you.
For each of your actions you will earn up to three different types of experience (red, green and blue) which, if accumulated, will allow you to access a complex skill tree that will allow you to create different types of useful items or give you access to interesting skills. The technologies (from now on we will call them that) will be divided into seven different sectors and each of these will allow you to collect or craft different objects that will be useful to advance in the game. The guys from Lazy Bear Games, convinced of their idea, wanted to include in the game a multitude of unlockable technologies (136 in all), but unfortunately, by doing so, they have heavily burdened the gameplay, leaving the player a great deal of freedom of choice that often leads him to make inappropriate choices.
In Graveyard Keeper, just like in real life, the weeks will consist of seven days and each of these will follow a specific day / night cycle. It will be essential for the player to immediately understand the precise weekly cycle, because there will be many characters and actions that you can only take on a given day. In fact, you will be able to meet the bishop only on Sunday and in the same way only on this day, with the advancement of the missions, will you be able to say mass, thus increasing the faith of your "disciples". Unfortunately the possibility of meeting a given NPC only on a specific day will make the game rather tedious, this is because to complete a quest you will have to wait a week in the game and it will not be possible to speed up the time quickly. Another sore point related to the quests is the repetitiveness of these: in fact they will all be very similar and will plan to bring the object X to the person Y (in the best case you will be asked to craft the object X). The entire game will also be closely tied to missions, leaving very little freedom of movement to the player. Unlike Stardew Valley, a title from which it certainly takes its cue, where the player was free to live the day as he saw fit without major limitations, in Graveyard Keeper each character will entrust you with a quest and its execution will be strictly necessary for the progress of both the storyline and to expand your available technologies. All this significantly increases the longevity of the work, but making every game rather heavy. However, it is worth saying that the characters with whom you will be able to talk will often be irreverent and will give rise to very hilarious conversations and, at times, far from politicaly correct; the real pity is that the texts of the game have not been localized in Spanish, thus making the irony that reigns throughout our adventure difficult for those who chew the English language a little.
Graphically this work is pleasing to the eye, but surely the Lazy Bear team could have done more. All the objects present in the game, whether they are trees, rocks, minerals or flowers, have very minimal diversifications and, even if the developer calls himself "lazy bear", we would certainly have expected more. To this is added the stuttering phenomenon which recurs cyclically at each change of area: despite this problem, the work is certainly playable, but this flaw weighs down the player's experience. We cannot really say anything unpleasant about the sound sector. The soundtrack in fact works and is well suited to the type of game we are analyzing, amplifying the entire player experience.
Graveyard Keeper certainly tries to introduce some interesting innovations on the inside, but unfortunately with these it weighs down the overall player experience. Trying to distance themselves from other progenitors of the genre, such as Stardew Valley, this work traps the player in a dense web of repetitive queststhus eliminating the freedom to live for the day from the formula. This title also has some stuttering problems which, unfortunately, don't seem to be solved by activating the V-Sync option, and this certainly doesn't work in its favor. However, it is worthwhile to go beyond these defects and to see how much good there is in this work that he wanted to risk: the plot is quite interesting and the various jokes that you can exchange with the NPCs are sometimes really funny. Basically Graveyard Keeper could have become the focal point of its genre, but unfortunately it didn't quite succeed.