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Elovia

Graveyard Keeper

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Interesting little title I've just run across ... probably because it was released today.  Graveyard keeper is now available on GoG and Steam (possibly other places, too).  Lots of comparisons to Stardew Valley but with a darker, more morbid side (note: not the same developer).

I will continue to watch this one for now, and wait for a sale (because I'm cheap, but more importantly because I already have too many games to play).

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Okay that looks interesting. Keep me up to date on the sitch dude and I'll start taking a look myself!

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4 hours ago, JesGolbez said:

So, a ripoff? :)

Not sure what you mean by "ripoff", but if you mean "a derivative work", "copy", or "clone" ... it is not.  It shares a simple 8-bit (16-bit) graphic, isometric perspective, art style and there are similar things to do, but the entire plot and mechanics are very different.  Stardew Valley was very tame, and I'd guess the target audience was pre-teen (even though adults can like it, too).  Graveyard Keeper looks like the target audience is much older ... perhaps still not full adult tho (but we can enjoy it for multi-layered humor and ethical dilemmas). I think of Stardew Valley as "a unicorns and rainbows kind of nice" whereas Graveyard Keeper looks like "dark humor with a touch of morbidity".

Edited by Elovia
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7 hours ago, Elovia said:

Not sure what you mean by "ripoff", but if you mean "a derivative work", "copy", or "clone" ... it is not.  It shares a simple 8-bit (16-bit) graphic, isometric perspective, art style and there are similar things to do, but the entire plot and mechanics are very different.  Stardew Valley was very tame, and I'd guess the target audience was pre-teen (even though adults can like it, too).  Graveyard Keeper looks like the target audience is much older ... perhaps still not full adult tho (but we can enjoy it for multi-layered humor and ethical dilemmas). I think of Stardew Valley as "a unicorns and rainbows kind of nice" whereas Graveyard Keeper looks like "dark humor with a touch of morbidity".

What Elo said. Plus, the creator of Stardew Valley outright admits that he took all the bits he liked from Harvest Moon to make Stardew Valley, so wasn't exactly original to begin with. I'd say though, that I don't think the target audience was youngsters, or at least not just them. Most of the people I know who play it are adults, and not really known many kids who seem to know it. I think the unicorn approach actually appeals to many adults and makes it stand out against the more 'adult' style games.

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15 hours ago, Elovia said:

Not sure what you mean by "ripoff", but if you mean "a derivative work", "copy", or "clone" ... it is not.  It shares a simple 8-bit (16-bit) graphic, isometric perspective, art style and there are similar things to do, but the entire plot and mechanics are very different.  Stardew Valley was very tame, and I'd guess the target audience was pre-teen (even though adults can like it, too).  Graveyard Keeper looks like the target audience is much older ... perhaps still not full adult tho (but we can enjoy it for multi-layered humor and ethical dilemmas). I think of Stardew Valley as "a unicorns and rainbows kind of nice" whereas Graveyard Keeper looks like "dark humor with a touch of morbidity".

Relax, Francis :P I was being cheeky. It's very hard to make anything truly original these days.

This game seems like it would be fun, but it might get too addicting and I don't know if I want to go down that rabbit hole

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Early reviews appear mixed; from the several I read, the underlying determinant whether the review is positive or negative has to do with the reviewer's initial expectations. The developers have stated they continue working on balance and gameplay issues, so maybe in a patch or two (or more) it'll get better.

 

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(version 1.03 review)  I'll use Stardew Valley as a basis of comparison to Graveyard Keeper.

First impressions playing are that it is not as addictive as Stardew, but it is successful in imparting that "just one more turn" feel.  It is, or it can be, fun - just in a different sort of way, I don't get the sense that farming is central to the game, whereas it is more aptly described as just one of the many things you can (and should) do.  Farming is also less tedious ... meaning, you don't have to continually water your crops ... you just plant them and they grow, then you harvest them, then you do stuff with the harvest (either sell it or make stuff from it).

Graveyard Keeper has day/night cycles, but not seasonal ones.  The week is 6-days long and certain NPCs (and later, certain abilities) are only available on certain days.  So you have to plan ahead to meet them.  Also, it takes a long time to traverse the breadth of the Graveyard Keeper world (in terms of day/night cycle), so again, plan ahead.  I have not yet discovered a rapid transit method such as the mine cart system in Stardew.

Combat is as simplistic as it is in Stardew, maybe more ... swing your sword in the direction of a creature several times until it runs out of health and dies ... collect the pieces-parts.  The catch here is that each sword swing deducts from your energy pool.  Unlike Stardew, you get to craft your own weapon and armor - provided you have attained the required technology.

Speaking of energy pool, unlike Stardew, when you run out of energy, you can still walk around.  You just can't do things that require energy (pretty much everything else except walking around).  You can still put things into and take things out of inventory chests.  You can still initiate certain time-dependent tasks (e.g., put dough in the oven to make bread, melt iron ore into ingots).  That last sentence may need some explanation.  Tasks require one of two meta resources:  time or energy.  Some tasks you do require energy from your personal pool which is recharged either by eating (food), drinking (potions), or resting; energy dependent tasks can be done one after the other for as long as your personal energy pool has energy remaining in it.  Other tasks require time to pass before they're completed.  I haven't paid super close attention, but there may be some tasks that require both (e.g., planting and raising crops).

Whereas Stardew is primarily a farm-centric sandbox, Graveyard Keeper is more progression oriented but still sandboxy in that you decide what to do and when to do it.  In Graveyard Keeper, NPCs will give you tasks to complete for them; I hesitate to call them quests, because they're really individual tasks that will improve your personal standing with that specific NPC.  (Un)fortunately, these are not your traditionally straightforward verb-number-noun quests.  Usually you have to accomplish something or find something (in doing so you need a special skill - one you most likely do not have), and usually accomplishment is not a single closed-loop path such as go from Point A to Point B and back to Point A.  Instead, for example, you have to "tidy up your graveyard and make it look nicer"; to do this will require clearing brush, repairing headstones and fences and improve the overall "score" to a specified threshold; the catch is that you do not have enough "repair kits" to satisfy the requirement and you'll need to craft more; unfortunately, you don't have the skills to create the materials that would be used in creating the repair kits.  So off you go ... to learn the skills needed to accomplish the task.  You wander around doing stuff that gives experience in one or more of three different types (craftsmanship, natural, spiritual) until you have enough to meet the threshold for a prerequisite technology, upon which you spend those experience points to attain the technology so you can continue toward your goal of attaining the one required technology that will allow you to make the crafting station which will allow you to make the items you need to accomplish the task.  Some people find this frustrating ... and it can be.

A potential downside to this approach is that it appears to be quite possible to "two-block" yourself (definition: of or pertaining to being prevented from proceeding. From nautical terminology for a ship's or crane's rigging in which two blocks are locked together, stopping the line.)  You can find yourself in a Catch-22 (an alternative simile if you prefer) ... meaning, you need a certain amount of a particular material to make the craft station that will allow you to make more of those same materials.  If you use those materials elsewhere before making the thing that allows you to make more materials, you will have a difficult time proceeding.  Note: I don't' think it would be impossible to proceed, but it certainly will be more challenging ... meaning you may need to scrape up enough cash to purchase enough of the particular material to then make the thing, and cash can be difficult to come by in the early game.  Also, vendors generally only buy the goods that they sell ... meaning you cannot sell produce to the blacksmith for the widget you need; however, he will buy as many widgets as you provide for sale provided he has enough cash on hand (another limiting factor).  Yeah, vendors don't have an unlimited supply of cash to buy stuff ... and neither do you.  Prices paid reflect supply and demand; vendors will pay less for items they have plenty of already, and more for items that they don't have.

Another stark contrast between Graveyard Keeper and Stardew, aside from the happy vs. grim subject matter, is the player's eventual goal.  In Stardew, the premise is that the player took up residence in Grandpa's old cabin to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and to settle into a more relaxing rural environment; for all intents and purposes, the character desires to stay and take up residence in the Valley and become part of the community.  Not so in Graveyard Keeper.  No, the player's eventual goal is to "go home" and the character does what is needed to get there (no spoilers).

Is it fun?  Yes, it can be, but some may not enjoy the ride as much as others.

For you American-centric readers (in before Pasanda's soapbox rant), I'll add a little non-PC plug in that the game appears to have been developed by a team for which English is a second language.  The English and grammatical flow is broken and jilted at times.  That in and of itself is not bad ... it is just noticeable in the same way (I assume) that translation and localization in other games are noticeable to non-English speakers.   In addition, the developer's presumed cultural norms (cultural knowledge helpful for understanding plot driving context and humor) are also noticeably different than expected ... again, not bad ... understandable and different.   See the (lite) spoiler below if you're interested in such things.

Spoiler

I'm not sure if the disgruntled, opportunistic communist talking donkey is intended to be a humorous point or a social-political statement.

 

Edited by Elovia
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Good news:  Rapid travel is possible but with limits.  The innkeeper sells a teleportation stone for two silver coins (a pittance).  When used, you have a limited choice of destinations and a three minute cool down before you can use it next.  You can use it to go to the Quarry, the Lighthouse, the Dead Horse (tavern), and also back to your house (home sweet home).

Also good news:  if you've exhausted the stone and iron outcroppings near your house, you can create a limited selection of crafting stations and a vault at the "house in the woods" which is very close to the Quarry.  So you don't have to haul giant slabs of ore and stone overland (or via teleport) back to your house one slab at a time.  Now you can create a spike-camp with the appropriate facilities to break those slabs down into stacks which easily fit in your inventory.  And with a handy teleport stone, you can haul those stacks quickly back to your main base of operations.  Doing the math ... one stone slab breaks down into six stone pieces.  Each stack contains thirty stone pieces ... or the equivalent of five stone slabs.  But your inventory has more than one available space for stacks of stone pieces ... so yeah, much easier to break them down locally near the quarry and haul back the stacks of pieces than to haul back the slabs.

Encouraging news:  I found what I believe to be an entrance to the dungeon.  I have not yet discovered how to open it.

Frustrating news:  I'm at the point where alchemy will be a giant boon.  I'm also at the point where it is still inaccessible.  I need alchemy to make ink which will allow me to write sermons (the one I have is no longer funny) which will, in turn, allow better things to happen.  Unless you're a witch; then only better things happen to others, not you.  I have been asked to create 10 hand-out flyers for the next witch burning ceremony.  Alchemy will provide the ink.  I already have the paper (created from corpse skin ... ewww).

Fishing news:  Yes, fishing is an activity.  And it looks to have a similar (but different) mechanism as in Stardew; the whole "keep the difficult-to-control colored slider on the fish while the fish erratically jumps up and down the column" is back.  I've caught three different kinds of fish, an eel, and a frog thus far from two different fishing locations.

 

p.s.  the donkey is not your friend.  Extorting bastard.

Edited by Elovia
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So ... I'm probably about three-quarters of the way through the game having spent quite a large number of hours playing.  I want to like the game, really I do. It's been a while and I've been wanting to give an update, but haven't yet quite found the right words to describe the game .... or enough positive ones to recommend it to others - and I don't have sufficient confidence I am going to.  Quite the opposite.  If you haven't already bought a copy, don't; if you have, YMMV.  The entertainment value just isn't there, and won't be there unless you have nothing better to do and you happen to purchase this on sale for a dollar or less.  The game is more tedious and frustrating than fun due to some very bad development decisions.  Playing the game feels almost like the developers set out to punish people for playing their game.  Gameplay is not so addictive to put up with tedious grind for the sake of tedious grind only to reach a dead end or unlock a useless tech.

I read a review posted on Steam, which summarizes my feelings pretty well, and I've copied it below.

Spoiler

Review by deadpixel

Posted: Sep 4 @ 9:41am
Updated: Sep 9 @ 5:27am

 

Oh my god I can't believe I have to do this:

! Warning, this is an opionated subjective review of the game. !

After some 55 hours I'm finally done with the game 100 %. Sadly, I can't recommend it in its current state. It is playable from the beginning to the end and I have not encountered any bugs (unlike other people commenting here), but I concur that the game is a chore. It feels more like an Early Access rather than a full release.

At the end of the game I had to “power sleep” through most of the days after tiring my character out doing pointless stuff with high energy consumption activities just to speed things up because there was no reason for me to do anything else but wait for a specific day to move the story forward. There is no other way to skip days.

I did not even use many of the items and mechanics in the game. I embalmed only a single corpse to see how the system works but managed to do just fine without ever touching the embalming table again. Alchemy is likewise completely useless and needlessly complicated. I used alchemy almost exclusively to make fertilizers and speed potions.

There is almost no way for you to streamline the production process (which comes standard in these resource gathering games), so you just keep cutting down trees, mining useless ore to get those sweet speckles of gold and silver (which are rarer than a raw steak), and tend to your extremely underwhelming veggie business. Going through the tech tree only unlocks more things you can do, which only further complicate your production process. Sure, there are a few perks that give you additional resources. I can craft 2 more nails now whenever I make nails. Great. Now I can spend these 2 extra seconds on something else.

EDIT: An example: There is an NPC Lumberjack. His sole purpose in the game is to give you his recipe for vegetarian pasta and lasagna. "Is a family recipe!" Here's a thought - let the player hire the lumberjack to supply their log storages with logs. Right now the lumberjack just stands there for the rest of the game. You can't even trade with him. Completely useless NPC beyond the one fetch quest. Let the player ask Snake to animate some corpses to do the hard work of mining and resource gathering. Ask Yorick and his ghosts to help you with alchemy ingredients. Have donkey pick up boxes with vegetables on his trip back to Town. Go wild with this! There is so much you can do with these characters to both enrich the story and help out the player.

You are unable to efficiently move large amounts of logs, rocks, marble or shipment crates (especially crates! I gave up on the merchant business completely just because how tedious it was to stock the warehouse for the pitiful reward you get), many items (particularly those which require you to select components of differing quality) cannot be crafted in bulk so you have to craft every single item individually going in and out of menus with extra clicks.

EDIT: An example: To craft a gold star fish steak, you need to select a gold star fish fillet from the crafting menu, craft a single (or like 2 or 3 items), select the gold star fillet again, start another crafting process and so on. Same goes for packages of meat where you have to "consume" the stamp, which is given back to you when the item is finished. Or with stone carving where you "consume" the chisel (of differing qualities -.-). Or when you are crushing ingredients on the alchemy mill you cannot queue multiples, so you have to crush one bee after another constantly going in and out of menus with HUNDREDS of completely unnecessary steps. This is not even grind, it’s tedious and obnoxious.

Some components or decorations require ridiculous/unreasonable amount of rare resources and only hinder your already slow progress through the game. Or some resources give you extremely underwhelming amount of refined goods.

EDIT: Take gold for example. You get a single item of gold jewelry details from one gold bar. Do you know how many gold rings and decorative pieces you could get from a standard gold bar? A lot. You should get at least three or more details from a single gold bar. Gold nuggets alone are extremely scarce, and you need two to make a gold bar that then yields a single item of jewelry details. Most endgame items (books, candelabras, church windows) require multiple gold jewelry details. Do you see a problem with that logic? Some crafting recipes don't make sense and the ingame economy is just all over the place.

Pacing of this game is wierd. The early game is fairly slow to ease you into the gameplay, the mid game is surprisingly fast, and the late game becomes a slog again (I’m looking at you Aristocrat Papers). Seriously, even though you have a lot of ways to earn money by the end of the game, none of them (except selling jewels to Ms Charm) is nowhere near lucrative enough. The grind to 12 gold pieces will make you want to bash your skull against a wall.

Also if you play recklessly and forget to save those 10 silver for a new whetstone and get your tools broken without having one at hand, you might as well just restart the game. The whetstone is a concern only in the early game. Once you get your hands on the steel tools, one whetstone will probably last you for the rest of the game, while at the beginning you’ll go through one in 1 or 2 weeks.

EDIT: The world feels empty with a handful of named characters that can be interacted with, but only six of them have meaningful questlines, which converge at the end. There is a huge location to the north of your house called “Forest near the river” where there is nothing. Literally nothing except for a bunch of trees. The entire right side of that location is void of anything – a wasteland with no characters or resources. Were developers planning for a pasture to be there and then decided “nah” or is it just so the map looks like a nice rectangle? I have read in some other review that the whole farming aspect of the game feels like half-baked Stardew Valley. Couldn’t agree more. They should have focused more on the graveyard/church-keeping aspect and scratch the farming elements.

The ending of the game was not worth it at all. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but let’s just say it was not at all satisfying. I took the joke at its face value but could not help but feel that the developers are mocking the players and taunting them to pay for future DLC. I did not follow the game much prior to the launch on Steam, but from what I understand, areas promised during the development are not present in the final product. I damned Torment: Tides of Numenera for that to hell and back, and if that is the case with this game as well, it deserves nothing less.

Unlike the reviewer, I have encountered a few bugs which were show-stoppers.  They probably weren't bugs so much as not-well-thought-through implementations with regard to ramifications.  I mentioned before potential two-block moments (chicken vs. egg situations), and there are too many such potential pitfalls for coincidence.

Do yourself a favor and avoid this game.  I'll be uninstalling it myself, and that is quite a feat since I almost never uninstall games ... ever.  I usually just throw them on the "ignore" pile.  /meh ... On second thought, I'll just toss it on the "ignore" pile for now and save the trouble of uninstalling it for later.

Edited by Elovia
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That is damning. And unfortunate, as it looked interesting. How could they screw up such a premise as graveyard keeping??!

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The game feels extremely unfinished. There are NPCs with whom you'll interact once, and others who have whole quest lines. There are merchants who sell one or two items, but who also do not buy items.  There are large swaths of land that are unaccessible: they have a blocked off entry point that the player cannot unblock.  There are technologies to research which allow the player to create goods that cannot be further used or sold.

The game stutters graphically at times, which simply should not occur given the relatively simple sprite-based graphics. This suggests rough and  unoptimized coding.

An often referenced featured area - The Town - is completely off limits to the player ... in fact if you try by obtaining a Town Pass (an in-game item you can purchase), you get to watch a scripted event wherein your character is killed.  When walking along the periphery, you can see resource-gathering spots already in place.

I'd bet good money they're planning a paid DLC for that and other features to complete the base game.

 

Edited by Elovia

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That is just today's financial model for gaming.  Make it look good enough to cash in, make paid DLC to get extra cash from a few small things that should have been there to begin with, move on to the next game to cash in again.

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3 hours ago, Jag said:

That is just today's financial model for gaming.  Make it look good enough to cash in, make paid DLC to get extra cash from a few small things that should have been there to begin with, move on to the next game to cash in again.

That happened back in the late '80s and early '90s and led to a crash in game software purchases. A lot of crap games came out back then and gamers stopped buying them.  A lot of development companies - good and bad - went bankrupt due to uncertainty of game quality before buying.  Piracy proliferated and was countered by developers releasing demos to lure new purchases. 'Course back then the internet was just fledgling and game information mostly came from magazines.  I'd hate to see history repeated because some game publishers got too lazy and greedy (again).

Edited by Elovia

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I HATE the "youtube personality" way of speaking, so I almost turned this off.  However, it draws some very interesting parallels between art history and game history and thus gives us an idea of where we might be heading.

 

Edited by Jag

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I hate you.  You owe me 12 and a half minutes of my life back.  I kept waiting for a relevant point to appear in that video ... and one didn't.  :wacko:

You could have spent the time more productively by rick-rolling us instead.  :P

 

Edited by Elovia

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Really?  I thought it was an interesting perspective I had not considered before.  The relevant point is that gaming moves so fast that we have followed the exact pattern of art over the past couple thousand years as gaming has over the last 30.  So your question about history I thought was directly relevant.  Sorry :(.

History ALWAYS repeats itself.

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