Management simulations have seen a large uptick in popularity over the last few years. Graveyard Keeper is a unique experience as you wind up playing as a character that has died, and your goal is to come back to life - and doing so is no easy feat. You awaken in an area that seems like the past, but a bit different and are tasked with being the keeper of the graveyard and making a wide variety of moral choices along the way.
You have the ability to arrange the gravesite as you want - and if you want, you can arrange flowers wherever you want or even change the tombstone design. Having a high-quality graveyard is important and every part of it matters - from maintaining the site to even having a better-maintained body inside the grave. This can be affected by a variety of things - including the person who died being injured horribly, or even maimed after death to make quick money selling the body parts and organs off.
It's an incredibly dark game in some ways and definitely isn't a game for the squeamish. There is a cause and effect system in place throughout many parts of the game too. If you want to keep getting bodies, you need to pay the horse who brings them to you - and can bribe him with a variety of different things. The townspeople as a whole use you whenever they can and there isn't much of a friendship bond built up. This is different than most management games, where there is always an illusion of friendship. Having a more blunt approach means that this is definitely more of a real-life simulation, where people do sometimes have to be blunt in order to make their point clear.
It's rare to see something like this come across in a game - but refreshing in its own way. Many games aim to give the player a heavy dose of escapism while playing. Graveyard Keeper still provides a bit of that as you are playing a role, but does so while reminding you just enough of the real world to make you think. Having to make tough decisions in this game can help develop critical thinking skills or show off cause and effect in a new way to someone who isn't used to it in real life. Having all of this is a game with a dark veneer is interesting too as that alone could allow it to appeal to a whole new audience that wouldn't otherwise play a resource-management game.
The genre as a whole has grown a lot since the days of Theme Park and Sim City. Graveyard Keeper comes from Lazy Bear Games, whose Punch Club rose to prominence a few years ago thanks to its heavily-comedic approach to things. Graveyard Keeper's blend of a dark comedic undertone keeps some of that spirit alive, but with far more of a focus on the in-game world and its citizens. Graveyard Keeper is available now from both Steam and GOG for $19.99.