Graveyard Keeper turned me into the most evil character I've ever played

I've just built my first wooden vine press. It's meant for crushing grapes into juice, which can then be aged into wine, but I have no intention (at the moment) of making wine, especially because I haven't grown any grapes yet. I've actually built the vine press to crush human fat into oil, and I've got a lot of human fat because I've carved up a lot of human corpses. I need the oil to craft polishing paste, because I need polishing paste to craft a lens, because I need a lens to craft a writing desk, because I need the writing desk to craft a sermon I'll be giving in church in a couple days.

I'm about 30 hours into Graveyard Keeper, the cemetery sim from Lazy Bear Games, and addressing a faithful flock of churchgoers with a sermon I've crafted on a desk made, in part, from a human corpse, is hardly the worst thing I've done. I've also been selling cadaver meat to the local tavern using a counterfeit royal stamp I acquired by doing favors for a cultist who hangs out in my basement (one favor, for example: I gave him a bucket of human blood).

And as I busily pile up human skulls in the basement to allow the cultist to perform a summoning ritual using a necronomicon I've brought him (another favor), I realize that all things considered I'm a pretty fucking evil little graveyard keeper. I'm doing some considerably awful shit in this game. But for all my grisly behavior, I don't feel even remotely bad. When it comes right down to it, it's all in a day's work.

I wish I could say this behavior is the result of a long, slow, unwilling descent into evil, but I pretty much jumped in with both feet right off the bat. I'm managing a graveyard (and about twenty other damn things like a farm and a church and a quarry), and bodies are delivered via donkey cart every few days. Those bodies need to be dealt with, which involves an autopsy wherein I remove flesh, skin, blood, fat, bones, skulls, and internal organs from the cadaver. Then burial, cremation, or occasionally just chucking the body in a river.

Quickly my pockets and storage boxes become filled with the spare human parts, and when there's no room left they just fall to the floor for me to kick out of the way when I'm rushing around trying to keep up with the endless supply of dead people. I'm told early on that the human meat I strip off bodies can be sold to the tavern, provided it has an official stamp on it, and that there's a shady character who can get me that stamp so I don't have to buy an official one, which is prohibitively expensive.

I'm up to my knees in body parts, I need money to buy all the other prohibitively expensive items in the game, so yeah, I'll sell some human meat to a restaurant. Boom. Evil. Just like that, no second thoughts. In Graveyard Keeper, for some reason, selling human meat and using human remains for crafting doesn't feel any different than selling fish to a vendor or using stone to craft a fence.

Part of it is because there's no judgement (at least not that I've seen) from the game itself. The other day I ran out of energy while picking flowers (which I was doing to find moths to use as fishing bait), and I'd run out of honey, which is my usual pick-me-up. So, I ate some cooked human flesh instead.

I ate human flesh so I'd have enough energy to catch fish that I could later eat. I'm a goddamn cannibal simply because it's convenient to be a cannibal, but the game treats snacking on honey no differently than snacking on cooked human flesh: both give me energy. There's no difference between using sand to craft stained glass windows for my church and using human fat to craft prayer candles. The result is identical: they'll both impress my churchgoers, who will then give me money. I even crafted a sermon that will specifically urge them to donate more money, built on the desk with the lens made out of crushed human drippings. Praise be! Dig deep!

I think another reason I don't feel evil is that that my Graveyard Keeper character essentially has no character. He's a busy, bearded little void, completing tasks simply because the tasks are there and need completing. There are a million things to do in Graveyard Keeper—mining, gathering, farming, woodwork, smelting, fishing, crafting, researching, cutting up dead bodies for food and profit, bee-keeping, napping—but there's not really much roleplaying. There's nothing to imprint myself on: with so much to do, I treat my character like a vehicle that exists to simply travel between crafting benches and vendors and characters who offer tasks in exchange for goods or money or more tasks.

This might be the most evil character I've ever played in a game, building an empire of silver coins by stripping the bodies of the dead for spare parts, cash, and nourishment. And that's fine! I like playing evil characters. I just don't feel evil in Graveyard Keeper. The candle recipe calls for human fat, and I've got a bunch of human fat, so I make candles from it. It's not an act that feels evil, it's just cheaper than buying candles and all that human fat is clogging up my storage anyway. It's a win-win. More money, and more room to store fish, honey, and spare human skulls.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.