The current line-up of games available via PS Plus Extra is growing, and sure enough, they’ve introduced one indie simulation title that has sat in my backlog of games to play for quite a while: Graveyard Keeper.
Now, if you're familiar with old-school Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley, and other pixelated 2D sims like them, Graveyard Keeper may not be news to you. It takes the farming simulation formula and instead transports you to a dark and morbid town in which you, and unnamed man wishing to be reunited with his love, must become the Graveyard Keeper.
I was promised (by both friends and strangers on Reddit) that the game would fill the Stardew Valley shaped hole in my heart, albeit with many dark twists and turns. I should’ve listened to the recommendation much sooner as someone who loves to mindlessly grind in Stardew Valley, but is also a fan of anything horrific and macabre. I finally took on my role as the Graveyard Keeper, and found that the title intertwines the two wonderfully, and it’s been incredibly charming, to say the least.
You're immediately thrust into the role of digging graves and restoring the yard in Graveyard Keeper, with a talking skull named Gerry to your aid, all while building up relationships with NPCs and uncovering secrets surrounding The Town. The overarching goal of the game isn't anything new, but the setting very much is. Rather than rebuild your grandfather's old farm from the ground up, you're to care for dead bodies in an unknown world instead... and they aren’t always dead.
Graveyard Keeper doesn't hold your hand, and sometimes, knowing which tech tree to go down next or which quest to do first can be confusing. I took to r/GraveyardKeeper on Reddit a few times and was met with a delightfully welcoming community, as well as a few lost souls that the community still welcomed with open arms. So if you want to relive the halycon days where seemingly everyone in the world was playing either Stardew Valley or New Horizons, you can sequester yourself away in a still-thriving community and enjoy a game that got another bite of the apple thanks to PS Plus.
Graveyard Keeper has a unique concept to dive into, and while conducting autopsies and selling off the meat of corpses feels very weird in this adorable world of sprites, it soon becomes natural. This charming world is accompanied by a community of helpful keepers standing by to help any newcomers, making any challenges you face seem nothing more than just that. As for the inhabitants of The Town, they're incredibly vibrant, full of life (ironically), and NPCs will leave you wanting more. That is perhaps one of the few downfalls of Graveyard Keeper, actually.
The story of Graveyard Keeper is not as developed as I’d have hoped, but the characters are so enjoyable to interact with. These jovial NPCs certainly carry the game along, but it would be nice to see the story expanded upon one day. Fortunately for newcomers like myself, Lazy Bear Studios is still updating and patching the game over time. So, who knows what the future for our Graveyard Keeper holds?
That being said, picking up Graveyard Keeper while it’s free on PS Plus is perhaps the best way to figure out if this is for you. The game, admittedly, isn’t for everyone, and plays more like an Early Access title than a finished game. If you’re prepared to deal with bugs here and there, and if you loved Stardew Valley, you’ll no doubt find something to love about Graveyard Keeper too. For me, there’s something incredibly satisfying about tidying up my graveyard… and I think it might be time to get back to it.
Graveyard Keeper is available for free on PS4 via PS Plus Extra, so there's no better time to give the game a go.