PAX West 2017: Graveyard Keeper

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

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Last year I had pretty great luck with tinyBuild, and ended up playing a game that totally blew my expectations out of the water, called Mr. Shifty. So this year I was willing to gamble on something different, and hoped to play a mystery game hosted by tinyBuild. Unfortunately, that game ended up not being shown this year, so instead I found myself playing Graveyard Keeper.

Graveyard Keeper | Logo

Made by Lazy Bear Games, the same folks behind the unique indie Punch Club, Graveyard Keeper is less a time management sim and more a crafting adventure game. The thing that instantly appealed to me, other than the pixelated art style, was the dark humor bubbling just under the surface. You play a grumbling cryptkeeper who has to maintain his cemetery as well as fight the occasional monster. The demo started out by telling me I had to do some small tasks, such as digging holes to put a couple bodies in.

Graveyard Keeper | Bridge

At first things were going reasonably well, as the game pretty directly showed me where to go with arrows on the main screen. After successfully doing a couple tasks, I started to run into issues. At a certain point, the game stopped directing me to objectives. I’m not sure if this was intentional or a glitch, but it left me essentially twiddling my thumbs. Not content to sit doing nothing, I wandered all about the game map, which was surprisingly massive. Keeping in mind I could get lost in a paper bag, I wandered pretty far unintentionally, and soon came to some for sure glitches. First I wandered from the landscape into a black nothingness, which stretched for pretty far. Then I found myself at some invisible wall, inexplicably unable to proceed further.

Graveyard Keeper | Cemetery

Later on, I found a small group of slimes and thrashed them with my weapon, but by then I was running low on energy. I was told by the exhibitor to go to my character’s home and rest to refresh him, but doing so didn’t work properly. I tried making some bread to feed my hero, and while this did restore some marginal energy, I was limited how much I could eat at a time, so it proved a minor fix at best.

Graveyard Keeper | Home

While it’s apparent that Graveyard Keeper is still in need of some editing, I wasn’t totally frustrated by my experience. I feel there is a good game hiding in this rough form, and feel that with time it will be a worthy purchase. I also truly hope that a mini map is put into the final version of the game, to prevent getting so easily lost. As it is now, it’s painfully clear that it’s not ready yet. Hopefully tinyBuild and Lazy Bear Games will soon give us a Graveyard Keeper worthy of that ominous mantle.

Graveyard Keeper | Reaper

About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.