Graveyard Keeper keeps growing and Game of Crone makes it that much better.
Genre: RPG, Simulation
Developer: Lazy Bear Games
Release date: 27 Oct, 2020
In a review of Graveyard Keeper – Stranger Sins from about a year ago, I said that Graveyard Keeper has a special place in my heart as the ethically-challenged and morally bankrupt sibling of Stardew Valley. I still stand by that statement when speaking generally about the title, but with the two DLCs that it now has, Graveyard Keeper truly stands on its own. Where Stardew Valley mostly focuses on managing your farm and building your collections, the Keeper is busy with an assortment of tasks ranging from the operation of his graveyard, engaging in alchemy, exposing the dark history of the village, running his own tavern, and building a refugee camp to name a few. At this point, I can only imagine that a new player would be overjoyed by the number of activities that they can focus on.
Game of Crone’s arrival brings plenty of smaller additions, but I’ll focus on the three that are the heavy-hitters here: the refugee camp, Donkey’s revolution, and the vampire hunt.
The refugee camp is yet another new system for you to put your time and resources into for exciting rewards. It starts when you awaken to a displaced noble in your home who’s begging you to assist him and those who follow him in finding safety. A few basic structures are all that you begin with and it’s up to you to not only expand this camp but to ensure that its food and water needs are met early on as they’re unable to provide even the most basic elements of survival for themselves. Some investment on your end will slowly grow this small band of needy beggars into something not only more self-sufficient, but something that offers you a few perks of your own. These include new recipes, some additional automated resource collection structures, and even a money lender, to name a few. The latter may very well be useful to a greener keeper, but as someone who completed all of the content prior, I was so rich during Game of Crone that I never needed to earn any further coin. The rest of the benefits were nice and convenient though.
The other two key talking points of Game of Crone are both quest lines. Your old friend Donkey returns and once again refuses to stop his eternal push for the working class to rise up. He insists that you collaborate with the donkeys and the rats to overthrow the powers that be and assigns you several tasks that involve you packing the delivery box full of assorted goodies. This questline is very much a side quest as it doesn’t significantly alter the overall game in any way, though it does offer a few nice rewards for delivering goods that are shockingly easy to acquire in the long run. Though it may be more exciting for a newer player, much of it felt like a fetch quest of processing and delivering goods that I already had in store after seventy hours of gameplay prior.
The village has begun to report sightings of a vampire in the area and, since they want something done about it, it falls to the workhorse of a graveyard keeper. It’s a mystery that’s interesting to watch unfold even if the means for a truly challenging puzzle of the sort aren’t available within the mechanics of the title. If you’re into being along for the ride for an entertaining story, this should be a fun one for you, but if you’re looking for something that pushes your mind to discover what’s happening, this isn’t it. You’ll likely know what’s going on long before the characters in the game have put it together. That said, there are some entertaining rewards, some uses for items that you may not have messed around with in a while, plenty of setting development that will keep you involved, and a twist or turn here or there that might make you nod with approval.
Like Stranger Sins, if you enjoy Graveyard Keeper’s design, Game of Crone is worth picking up. I’m a pretty big fan of the base game and have no problem saying that I’m a supporter of the DLC trend that is starting to kick off. I hope that there are more on the way that continue to expand what there is to do, my wallet is certainly ready. That said, I can’t help but suggest that you pick it up on a sale. The additional mechanics are great, but $10 apiece is a hard sell for me when you weigh what you’re getting. Fortunately, Graveyard Keeper and its DLC are regularly on sale and if you’re quick enough with Steam’s Autumn Sale, you might even be able to pick all three parts up at about $25. That amount, I can say with confidence, is a steal for one of the better titles in the genre.