I am an unconditional fan of Lazy Bear Games since, during one of those many nights when I would spent my time hunting on the internet for unique games, I came across the dev blog of VHS Story, which would finally be published as Punch Club.
The developers of the nostalgic boxing simulator have been working for two years on a new concept, another sim that will allow us to impersonate the keeper of a cemetery.
Graveyard Keeper will be released on August 14, 2018, but from this week all those who reserve the game on the official website can download and try the Alpha version. A whole horde of followers of Lazy Bear is testing the Alpha and providing feedback in the forums of the game. The humble player who writes these lines is no exception.
Our main task in Graveyard Keeper is (wait, can you guess?) of course, to bury dead bodies. But not without making a profit of this job, thanks to the juicy human flesh, and other resources, that we can sell in The Village for the average NPC's consumption. (Yes, I just hinted we sell human flesh to the groceries...)
But man does not live by human flesh alone. Placing tombstones and other decoration in the tombs, repairing those that are deteriorated, removing the brambles... To care for the state of the cemetery is another of our tasks and is reflected in the overall score of it. At the beginning, the situation is a complete mess, and one of the first quests that we will receive is to improve that score to ingratiate ourselves with the Episcop.
To complete this and other tasks we will need to build tools and structures, unlocked in our technological tree, whose design is very reminiscent of the Punch Club skills and talents tree.
Ripping corpses for profit and digging graves is only a part of what we can do in Graveyard Keeper. The game incorporates most of the usual mechanics in this type of simulators: cutting down trees, cultivating the land to obtain our benefits and recipes, extracting minerals, crafting, and even fishing.
An approach that reminds a lot of Stardew Valley. Another of the parallelisms with this great classic farm simulator is the existence of a neighboring town, and the relationship system with its inhabitants, who are the quest providers for the game. But unlike the villagers of Stardew, from the first moment, we realize that something strange happens in this town... and that the needs of its inhabitants are much more mature, even obscure. Take the example of the Inquisitor and his fascination with burning people alive.
This grim flavor adds a new vision to a well-explored field, such as open-world games/farm simulators. With some major gameplay improvements, I must say. For example, as usual, the inventory is limited, something that also happened in Stardew Valley, Terraria, etc. The solution was to store our resources in chests, and having to pick up the elements when we needed them to craft or build felt quite annoying. Well, in Graveyard Keeper developer seems to have taken note of this, and the trunks in each area are directly linked to the work table, so we can use the resources stored directly.
Another improvement is the day and night cycle, that feels much quicker than in Stardew Valley and helps gameplay to flow better. In addition, game mechanics do not force us to go to bed after a certain time (after all, what a better moment to work on such sordid things than the night?). The cycles of time are not noticed so much, which gives a better feeling of freedom.
Little more I can say about the Alpha, for now. It is planned for 5h gameplay, and as usual, many issues are veiled for the full release of the game. The sensations are very good and the mechanics engage: the teaser of Lazy Bear has not disappointed me. To round off the aforementioned, the addictive BSO and the perfect pixel design create the right environment to get fully involved in the dark, absorbing world of Graveyard Keeper.