Developer Lazy Bear Games pitched Graveyard Keeper as "the most inaccurate medieval cemetery management sim of the year" when they revealed the game last year. I'm not disputing that, but after seeing its intriguing new gameplay trailer, I'm leaning more toward Andy's description: Stardew Cemetery.
You play as the overseer of a small village cemetery, and while your job is to watch over the dead, your true goal is to make a living and help grow your village. To that end, you do plenty more than tote bodies around, and you may have to bend a few rules to keep yourself out of the red. Because apart from an inaccurate cemetery sim, Graveyard Keeper is also "a game of capitalism" about "doing whatever it takes to build a thriving business."
Yes, you have graves to dig and, er, fill, but you've also got crops to collect, gear to craft and dungeons to explore. Apart from burying bodies, you can also autopsy them to harvest various pieces and put them to more productive use. And because your cemetery is technically holy ground, you can find work in the clergy swindling tithes and spreading rumors.
Many of these systems connect to the residents of the game's beautifully drawn village, from the merchants who help you get by to the fanatics you can send on witch hunt goose chases. No word on romancing the locals yet, but considering you'd probably wind up selling your spouse's organs on the black market or something, that might be a good thing.
That said, as Lazy Bear explained in a recent Steam update, there are six key characters you can befriend. Each one visits the graveyard once a week and offers a vital service, "so you should plan everything ahead, at least a week in advance." A separate post outlines how trading works. Here's the most interesting bit:
"Selling and buying things from a character helps him/her to evolve and become richer. Of course, sellers won’t get money only from you. Yet how much they get depends on the number of city dwellers that come to visit the village. The reason for them to do so is because the village is on the way to your church. So the more popular your church and your graveyard are, the better it is for local businesses. You can also increase profits from the village by giving a sermon about how important small businesses are."
Graveyard Keeper is due out this summer.