Graveyard Keeper LadiesGamers

Beginners Guide to Graveyard Keeper (Switch)

Graveyard Keeper is a simulation game that made the leap from Steam (PC) to Nintendo Switch. Another good sim game added to the growing library, very welcome as far as I’m concerned! Of course, quite a few gamers will already know the game. But on Nintendo’s hybrid console a whole new audience will discover the bizarre humour of the life of a Graveyard Keeper.

The game is available in the eShop on June 27. We have a review up on our site, which you can find if you click here.
If you are new to the game as ChamZen and I were, you might benefit from this beginners guide. What to do in those first few bewildering days? Read on, and let this guide help you enjoy the game even more.

And if you are already playing, you might want to check out the DLC Breaking Dead. Make your own Zombie Workers. Find out how to do it here. 

Don’t play it like other sim management/farming games

The intro is about a guy just like you and me….eyes glued to the screen of your mobile phone. Not smart, as it turns out, as he is hit by a car and teleported to…where exactly? Your character finds himself in a bewildering world. And trust me, you will be just as bewildered as your character is.

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Graveyard Keeper looks a lot like Stardew Valley. And if you’ve playing farming sims in the past, you might assume things work just the same in Graveyard Keeper. They don’t however, so pay attention to the in-game guide when you start playing. But worry not, you can’t go wrong or fail. If you miss a character that you had to speak to, they will be there again next week.

That having been said, there are some familiar elements: you have an energy bar, and every action you take counts. You have to sleep or eat meals to get your energy back. Gather everything you see if possible, you’ll never know when it might come in handy.

You’ll balk at first…but you get used to it

Of course, I knew what the game was about. But still, picking up the first corps and bringing it to the morgue was awkward. And when you are instructed to slice off some meat, as the corps is still nicely fresh I remember thinking: ewwww! But as an obedient little gamer I did as told, and I can tell you, it gets easier.

And if like me, you balk at the idea at first: think of the game as a management sim. But instead of crops, monsters and farm animals we’re talking graves and corpses here. If you can’t get to grips with that I suggest that you don’t buy the game. It would be a shame however, because this is one cool and addicting simulation management sim.

The first day: get to know this crazy world

Your first task is to dig out Gerry’s grave. A talking skull, who just wants beer, and lots of it. He is also your guide, the one that gets you going. He alerts you to the Donkey pulling a cart to your graveyard, carrying a fresh corps. Yes, people, a fresh corps, as it’s important to get to work on a corpse right after it gets delivered. If you don’t do that, a corpse will start to decompose. Their condition affects the quality of your graveyard, and we can’t have that! So, bring the corpse into your morgue and put it on a pallet or autopsy table, as you can then stave off decay for an extended period of time.

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On day one you just follow the yellow arrow and gather requests. From Gerry, from the innkeeper in the village and from the bishop. Explore the village, look around in the graveyard, your own house and the morgue and get to know the lay of the land. If you have excess energy (the blue bar on the top left) you can clear away some rocks and trees with the pickaxe and axe that you have found in the box next to the church.

When you got back to your house Gerry will mention the root cellar under your house. After exploring it, go to sleep in your house when it gets dark, that way you don’t loose any daylight hours.

A suggestion for the first days

On day two, you wake up with a ghost next to your bed. He will have a request, but don’t act on it immediately as you don’t exactly know if there will be consequences. Go outside and read the placard to the right of your house, in the large plowed field. It tells you about the garden.

Go into the village and talk to the innkeeper again. He will tell you all about the garden and how you can lay claim on it. Also, if you haven’t yet, give the letter you got from the innkeeper to the Blacksmith. He is also in the village, to the southeast. Give the Blacksmith the letter, and he will give you a whetstone and an old sword. He requests you to slay two slimes with it (that’s what the innkeeper asked in the letter).  He will also tell you where to find ore, for later use. (In the Swamp). Sharpen the sword on the grinder next to the Blacksmith’s house, and use it to slay the two slimes behind his house.

Go back to the innkeeper, and he will give you a mug of beer in return. That was Gerry’s request of course. Talk to Gerry (you will find him in the morgue) and give him the beer. Rather a full day right? But remember, there’s no limit, you can easily do this in two or three days.

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How to get the Graveyard up to specs

The Donkey brings the corpses on a regular basis. Like I mentioned earlier, get them in the Morgue as soon as possible to stave off their decay. As soon as the bell rings when the Donkey delivers, decay starts. Putting the body in the Morgue area helps slowing it down, putting it on a pallet or autopsy table slows the decay to a snails pace. This is important, as decay adds green skulls to the corpse, and you can’t counteract them (more on that below). Repairing the chute later on helps a lot, as then the bodies will fall immediately into the Morgue.

Examine the corpse on the autopsy table, and you will see every corpse has a certain rating. This is the maximum value the corpse can deliver to the value of the graveyard. On the autopsy screen you will see skulls. White skulls are good and red skulls are bad (green skulls act like red skulls). Let’s take a closer look at each skull type:

  • White Skull: This is the best and most beneficial corpse rating to have. You want as many of these as possible. With white skulls the points you add to the grave (via tombstone and border) are counted towards your overall graveyard score. The quality of the grave can however never exceed the number of white skulls. If you had a corpse with three white skulls, you can get a maximum three points for your graveyard from its grave.
  • Red Skull: Red Skulls act in an opposite fashion to white skulls as they essentially take graveyard points away. A corpse that has three red skulls would be worth -3, or a maximum of 0 with +3 in grave upgrades. You want to limit the amount of red skulls you have on a corpse.
  • Green Skull: Green skulls develop if the corpse has been sitting for a while (decayed). They act like red skulls and should be avoided, as there’s nothing you can do about nullifying them.

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Autopsy can alter the skulls as described above. Despite the fact that Gerry urges you to slice off some meat at first, this really isn’t a good idea. It will remove one white skull! Removing blood and fat is a better idea, as it will each remove one red skull and add one white skull when they are removed. But, that technique is not available at first.

When it comes to making the Graveyard better: An open grave has a base rating of -2. This changes to the corpse rating when there is a body put in it. A properly-managed corpse will produce a grave with a rating of zero when buried. Each grave dressing will then add to the grave rating, but keep in mind that this cannot exceed the number of skulls on the corpse’s meter.

Develop the Technology Tree

Developing this Tree is important to progress in the game. You can access it by pressing ‘-‘ and cycle through the various skills by pressing ZL and ZR. Did you see that with everything you do (chopping trees, gathering flowers etc) you acquire red and green points? You can use them to unlock new technologies. Technologies that will allow you to increase your faith, develop your farm, improve tools etc. Remember to spend your points on a regular basis.

It’s worth taking the time to read through all the various branches of the six tech trees you have access to, as this will give you an idea of what you’ll want to unlock. Your first aim should be to upgrade the graveyard outside the church as fast as possible so select skills with this goal in mind.

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You will also see that you don’t acquire any blue points. To get blue points you need to unlock the ability to Study in the church basement. First though, you have to unlock the church by completing the first task from the Bishop (making the graveyard better). Once you have the church unlocked you can access its basement and use the study table.

At the study table you can study various items to learn about them and earn xp. Certain items (like body parts) give a ton of Blue Points and should be used to gather these points quickly. For instance, study Corpse Body Parts, study Graveyard Decorations like Tombstones and Borders and Crafting Glass.

Getting the garden going

The garden is important. You will at least need it to feed the donkey carrots. Earlier on, you will have talked to the innkeeper about using it. But before you can actually sow some seeds in it, you need permission of the Merchant. He is located to the south of the inn at a particular day of the week. Say no to his first two offers of paying 10G or 5G for it, as you are quite broke. In the end you two can settle on a sort of lease, where you have to give him some crops in return.

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Find the Farmer who is located south of the wheat fields. A very unpleasant character, who isn’t at all pleased to see you. Buy seeds from him, as well as 10 crop wastes. Once you unlock Farming in your technology tree, you can then create a heap to get the peat needs to make floral arrangements to go on the graves.

Known NPC Screen comes in handy

Another source of information under the ‘-‘ button is the NPC screen. When talking to characters you meet, they tell you their request. And a little symbol shows on which day they are in town. But it’s easy to lose sight of that information, so the NPS Screen is a big help. On the Known NPC screen you can see valuable information like your friendship rating, what day an NPC can be visited (little icon over head), and what quests you have active with them.

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Time management is key…

As in any management sim, time management is key. No matter how efficient you are, you will always be short on time. Try to sleep during the night to get your blue bar filled, so you won’t loose any daylight hours.   There’s a six-day cycle, with each day represented by a symbol. When a person is mentioned that you need to talk to, you will see the symbol of the day when they can be talked to.

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Although as I said, you can’t mess up the game, missing a certain day to see someone you need for a quest, means you have to wait another week. So it’s better to plan ahead. And note that many of the characters disappear again as soon as the sun starts to go down. Later in the game you will find shortcuts in the tunnel system under your house, that will help.

There are a lot of things to think of, I know. But try to fulfil requests as soon as you can, as some can take a long time to make them happen. A tip: the Donkey complains when you first meet him about working for only five carrots. Pretty soon he will expect you to provide him with 10 carrots. So buy carrot seeds from the farmer as soon as you get access to your own piece of land. Oh, and he also wants oil to lubricate the cart wheels. You can buy oil from crazy guy to the east of town.

There is a way later on in the game to get more energy that doesn’t involve dishes. You can make a meditation garden, and do some serious relaxing.

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Gathering resources and exploration

As I say in every management game I’ve ever written about: stockpile everything. This will mean you are short of funds in the beginning, but pretty soon you need lots and lots of timber and stone. You need the skill mastered to fell trees or cut stone. And every log or stone has to be carried to your house. Your best strategy is to gather a load of resources and then line them up and try and push them back to your yard. This means, if done right, you can move four or five trips worth of resources in one journey.

These resources are needed to make the graveyard a better place (if there is such a thing, lol). You also need  materials to open up the tunnels under your house or fix the bridges and such. Pretty soon after doing so, you will find the world is much bigger than just your graveyard and the village. Exploration is very important to the game even though it’s tempting, with time being short, to not venture any further then the village and your home.

But, in the outskirts of the village, there are a lot of requests to fulfil. And some key skills that you need later on in the game are linked to exploration and the interactions with some of the characters you’ll meet exploring. After fixing the bridge to the west you’ll have to navigate the swamp to find the witch Clotho for instance as she will give you the Alchemy skill.

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Remember what you are here for!

With all that’s going on, it would be easy to forget your job: you are the Graveyard Keeper. It’s your job to prepare the dead for burial, and make sure the Graveyard is maintained!

I hope you liked this beginners’ guide. If you are enjoying the game, you might want to check out the Gamepedia website for even more info!


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