Graveyard Keeper can pull you in a lot of different directions, but doesn’t have much in the way of a tutorial to help you get started. I’ve gathered some tips for new players that I wish I knew before diving in myself. Be sure to check out my review of Graveyard Keeper for more information about the game.
Mind the calendar
Days are represented by icons on a dial in the top left corner, and certain villagers only show up one day a week. For example, the Bishop appears only on the day with the sun icon. One very important thing to note, the current day is shown by the icon on the bottom of the dial, not the top.
Build a church
You’ll need lots of coin to progress in Graveyard Keeper, so one of your first priorities should be opening the church. Improve your graveyard’s rating to +5 by repairing the gravestones and fences that already exist, or by burying additional bodies with positive ratings. Speak to the Bishop on his next visit and you’ll be granted the ability to preach sermons, giving you a reliable weekly source of income. You can increase donations by further improving the graveyard and church property.
But don’t upgrade the church right away
After opening the church the Bishop will mention upgrades. This sounds like a way to make more money, and it is, but it’s also a trap. You need a building permit to upgrade the church. If you buy the permit you can upgrade the church, but you then won’t be allowed to preach any more sermons until you also buy Rightful Citizen papers, which cost an additional 20 silver coins. Early on in the game this is a lot of money. Wait on upgrading the church until you buy the Rightful Citizen papers. The same is true of the second upgrade, except you will need Aristocrat papers which cost 12 gold coins. Be careful to not upgrade so fast that you lose your ability to earn income from the church.
Build an exclusive graveyard
You aren’t required to bury every body the donkey delivers. Pick and choose the best to save yourself from exhumations later. Corpses are rated with red and white skulls. Red is bad. If a corpse has only two red skulls, remove the blood and fat and you will be left with only white skulls. Early on, this is the best you can hope for. If a body is delivered with three or more red skulls, and you’ve unlocked the ability to remove organs, try removing the heart. This could make things a lot better or a lot worse. If you luck out, you can remove the blood and fat and continue burying. If you end up with more red skulls, just extract every body part you can for later and dispose of the body.
Take me to the river
If a body will harm your graveyard’s score, you have two other options. You can unlock cremation, and burn the body to the south of your morgue. You will need a constant supply of wood billets to build funeral pyres, but you will be granted a burial certificate you can sell for some money. The other option is to walk over to the river and dump the body. You won’t get any income for this method, but you also keep your graveyard’s score intact. There is no penalty whatsoever for doing this, despite any cryptic warnings the games text implies.
Get rid of low-quality bodies
You can purchase exhumation permission to remove bodies from your graveyard. Use this to your advantage to clear out the negative scores from the graveyard. If you exhume the bodies you can still receive a burial certificate by cremating them. Selling the certificate means the net cost for an exhumation permission is only 25 copper coins, well worth it in the long run.
You can only carry one large resource, like wood or stone, at a time. However, you can line up a bunch of them and push them. If you’re moving laterally, spamming the E key helps keep a pair of items moving along smoothly. Moving vertically you can push quite a few items easily, getting them closer to your stone cutter or sawhorse.
Consult the wiki
Graveyard keeper has a ton of mechanics and resource combinations, and nothing in the way of in-game information. Don’t be afraid to look things up in the online wiki instead of spending potentially hours of random trial and error to discover what supplies you need for the next quest. Even if you know what you need, it’s still going to take considerable time to gather it up. You might also consider taking notes as you play to keep track of what you need to do next or what you were planning on doing the next time your play. It’s easy to get sidetracked and lose focus of your main goals.
Ignore The Town
As mentioned in my review, The Town is a false goal. Do not go out of your way to earn the resources needed to obtain a Town Pass. It was probably intended to be a location in the game, but was cut for release. Maybe it will be patched in later, maybe not. For now, ignore it. You can’t get there.
Make some wine
Wine is one of the most useful food items in the game. It restores most of your energy and a big chunk of health. As soon as you unlock the vineyard you should invest some money and time into growing grapes. Make sure you have unlocked Quality Fertilizer 1 before this point. Using that fertilizer will slowly improve the quality of your grape seeds, starting from bronze all the way up to gold. Keep using peat moss and fertilizer and you will soon be getting back more seeds than you’ve planted and your entire vineyard will be full of gold grapes that you’ll press into gold grape juice and age into gold wine. You’ll need to build a vine press and wine barrel in your cellar.
Slowly research autopsy tech
The tech tree suggests that researching embalming will help you improve the status of corpses before burial. This isn’t wrong, but once you buy that upgrade, the game starts delivering worse bodies that will force you to use the new and more expensive tech in order to bring the bodies up to par with what was being delivered to you before you upgraded. There is plenty of room in the graveyard to add bodies until at least the first church upgrade before you need to invest in this part of the tech tree.
Profit from the witch burnings
After you’ve built up your relationship with the Inquisitor, you’ll be able to sell beer and burgers at his witch burnings. This is more of a mid-game tip, but at this point you will probably have a thriving vegetable garden, and it’s relatively easy and self-sustaining to produce beer and burgers. Selling them nets you an easy 30+ silver coins.