Graveyard Keeper

The Game

Graveyard Keeper developed by Lazy Bear Games and published by tinyBuild is an indie game that revolves around managing a graveyard (much like the title suggests). The game is comparable to Stardew Valley in many ways: the aesthetic, the fun characters, the crafting, combat to name few. Graveyard Keeper starts you off in a world you are unfamiliar with (you’ve come from present day) , it seems you are stuck in some sort of medieval fantasy world and you need to figure out how to return home to the present day. As it turns out you are the new keeper of the village’s local graveyard, after the previous one mysteriously disappeared. You are introduced to various characters in and around the village and their weekly schedules and quests (the game has 6 days with various events or NPC appearances being tied to each one).

Over time you develop and fix up the old graveyard and your house, you unlock farming, beekeeping, wine and beer making. As the graveyard gets nicer and filled with better “quality” people you will unlock the church which is where the game really takes off. You will be tasked with doing a weekly prayer, this will help you generate faith which leads to the most powerful unlocks in the game. Doing tasks and work generates points – there are three types of points – red (generated by wood/stone/metal work), green (generated by doing farming work) and blue (generated by researching things and high level item crafting). These 3 types of experience points are used to unlock things in the research trees, and there is quite a good amount of things to be unlocked.

Worth it?

The game is incredibly addictive. It has that typical element of “just one more day” or “just one more task” that keeps you on it for crazy amounts of time. What makes the game even more clever is the way the days work – often times quests will require you to do something that’s basically 5 days away, meaning that you have to wait almost an entire week to complete a phase in a quest (during that time you’re obviously doing other quests or tasks). This has the effect of keeping you super busy all the time, following NPCs schedules and working around having a corpse delivered to you every so often as well. The game’s aesthetic is well delivered and can be very eerie at times (especially when the fog roles in). It’s perfectly matched by the sound design of the game and some of the rather dark and funny humour.

Graveyard Keeper will generally set you back around £10, which at first may seem like quite a lot, but the game really offers quite a lot, it’s also cheaper than competitor Stardew Valley. If you can grab it while it’s on sale for around £5, then you’ve got yourself a steal; it’s worth noting the game is also free with PS Plus Extra. While the game’s ending leaves a lot of questions unanswered and there are 3 DLCs that attempt to answer those, each of the DLCs will set you back around £7-8 and add a variety of new stories and gameplay mechanics (like being able to make zombies to automate tasks). The game is highly addictive and will keep you hooked for a considerable amount of time – overall the story can take around 40 hours to complete, but that could easily stretch towards 50-60 depending on what you end up doing.

Tips

  • Get the teleport stone from the Dark Horse tavern as soon as you can afford it – it makes moving around the map so much easier
  • Try to only put high quality corpses in your graveyard, red skulls reduce the appeal of a grave
  • Focus on opening the church in the early game so you can unlock the weekly prayers – these will generate faith for you and unlock the church basement where you can do alchemy and craft new types of items
  • Meet Clotho to unlock the alchemy workbench and skill tree
  • For a perfect 12 skull corpse you will need to have unlocked and use the various embalming injections
  • Blood and fat always remove 1 red skull, organs will account for a random amount of red/white skulls in each body, flesh will always remove 1 white skull
  • The Quarry lets you set up a little base where you can mine iron, stone and marble for extended periods of time – just make sure you have enough materials to build the workstation and storage there
  • Save blood – there’s a late game quest (and speed potions) where you will need quite a lot of it
  • The dungeons save your progress – so if you’ve killed half the mobs on a floor and exit it, that will be saved when you return
  • Throwing bodies into the river is ok, but if you have a poor quality body you’re better off burning it as you still get the burial certificate
  • Once you unlock alchemy and the tier 2 bench get speed potions – but only take them after you’ve had a sauerkraut (as it increases the duration of buffs)
  • Gravestones and fences generate a lot of blue points when being researched
  • You can purchase books containing a specific number of red/green/blue points from the astrologer

Useful Links

Minecraft (Bedrock Edition) – Coming Back to Minecraft After 10+ years

The Game

Minecraft a game developed by Mojang needs little to no introduction. The game started in Alpha in 2010 and was officially released in 2011. There are technically two independent versions – Bedrock and Java edition, where Bedrock is the version available on all consoles, mobile and windows 10. Over the years the game has continuously been developed and grown far beyond what it was in those very early days. It still carries on growing even today with the recent 1.18 Caves and Cliffs update and the upcoming 1.19 Wild update.

If you haven’t played for as long as I have you really are in for a treat. The world generation, biomes, creatures, NPCs, crafting and literally every single element of the game has had some sort of addition or expansion over the years. There are new animals like pandas, bees, axolotls, alpacas and more. The Nether has been completely overhauled with new nether biomes and structures like bastions, there is more to the End than just the dragon – end cities allow for late game dungeons and loot to be obtained. Oceans have changed massively, sunken ships, buried treasures, corals, sea turtles, ruins, ocean monuments and elder guardians and many other additions have made the oceans of Minecraft a lot more interesting and worth exploring as much as any overworld biome. There are now various types of mountain, taiga forests, ice biomes. There are new types of caves and the world goes deeper than ever before.

Villagers were only just introduced when I last played Minecraft all those years ago and while initially they didn’t have much purpose, they are now an integral part to surviving. There are a variety of villages depending on the biome they spawn in, various villager professions, each with its own set of trades. Trading with villagers will level them up, unlocking new trade options – sometimes even allowing you trade for incredibly rare items. The villagers now also have enemies in the world, their evil counterparts – the illagers. These can spawn on patrol in the world, in woodland mansions, at pillager outposts or during raids. There are various types of illagers each with their own skills, weapons and abilities. There is also a sequence of events whereby killing an illager captain (gaining the Bad Omen status) and then walking into a village will trigger a raid by consecutives waves of illagers. Defeat the raid and you might get an amazing drop – the Totem of Undying (hold in your hand when you die to instantly respawn).

Worth it?

Generally speaking whichever version you may choose you will likely be spending anywhere from £10 to £20 for the game. There are various CD Key outlets offering lower prices too. What’s most important is to define that any platform other than desktop will be the Bedrock Edition of Minecraft. On PC you will have a choice between the original Java edition and Bedrock Edition. While the majority of the core game mechanics are the same between games, there are some very key differences in terms of mob spawning and various other niche elements that could potentially make all those tutorials for farms you are watching irrelevant to your version. The other very notable difference between the two is that on Java you will have access to endless free mods, texture packs and other community content. On Bedrock you will need to purchase Minecoins in order to buy the same types of things.

While on the one hand the store in Bedrock is a nice chance for content creators to get recognised and make money from their work it also takes away from so much that Minecraft originally was and feels like a bit of a cold attempt at squeezing more money out of the player. On consoles you cannot play split-screen unless the other player also has a purchased version/account on Minecraft – making local/offline couch co-op not an option, which was actually a major disappointment and feels like a bit of slap in the face. Changes are also being made to bring Java edition more in line with this, under the guise of improving player safety.

Overall it’s very difficult to fault Minecraft as a game – it really has withstood the test of time and coming back to it after being away for so long is like rediscovering something you loved as a kid which has kept growing and changing over all these years. The game has proven itself in terms of depth and potential and the continuous work on it means there’s always something to look forward to. If you want to lose potentially thousands of hours building and surviving in your very own Minecraft world, or last played it more than 5 years ago – then by all means give it a go.

Tips

  • Make a shield and equip it as soon as you have access to iron
  • Donkeys can be equipped with chests to help carry more
  • Animals can be leashed to fence posts
  • Scutes dropped from baby turtles can help make a helmet that will help you spend more time underwater
  • Mobs cannot spawn on bottom half slab blocks (or other non-whole blocks like rails, string, carpets)
  • Traveling 1 block in the Nether is equivalent to travelling 8 in the above world
  • Enable coordinates on Bedrock – make note/screenshots of coordinates you want to come back to
  • Keep a water bucket on you, it can be useful to go up/down into ravines or to put yourself out if you’re on fire
  • Mending is a great enchantment for your high-level gear – it will repair your equipment with exp
  • Automate things using redstone contraptions
  • You can reset villager trades by removing their work station and replacing it – once you have made a trade with a villager that will lock their trades in even if the work station is moved
  • Check a seed map to find out where various things in your world are located

Useful Links

The Survivalists

The Game

The Survivalists is a pixel-graphics survival game by Team17. You are stranded on a deserted (or is it?) island in the middle of the ocean with nothing but the clothes on your back and the wreckage of your raft. It’s up to you to build up your base and arsenal of tools and weapons and eventually make your way to other islands and even back home. The game shares a lot of similarities with other popular survival games (like Don’t Starve), but is also quite forgiving and can be quite chill at times (rather than the hectic panic that other such games induce). There are regular attacks by the goblin natives of the islands – you will always be warned the evening before these occur and you’ll have a good amount of time to prepare yourself for the impending attack.

Where The Survivalists really comes into its own is it’s unique monkey buddy system. While exploring the islands you will run into monkeys who will need your help – sometimes they’ll be capture in a cage that needs breaking, other times they will need a specific item. Once you’ve helped them they will join you on your adventures and quite literally follow all of your orders. The monkeys allow you to automate production, construction, resource harvesting, combat, etc. as you can teach each monkey to perform one of the roles described above. This is quite a unique mechanic and makes for some pretty interesting scenarios, especially as you amass a bigger and bigger following of monkeys.

The game also features vaults and labyrinths, which are basically dungeons with cool loot and secrets to be uncovered. These are scattered throughout the world and up to you to find on your adventures. The labyrinths will require special keys to be purchased from the Mysterious Stranger. There are a few other NPCs and some quests that will keep you busy when you get bored of building up your base and gathering resources. If that’s not enough for you, you can also play cooperatively with your friends online (sadly no couch co-op options available).

Worth it?

The game has all the classic survival game mechanics you’d ever want and the monkeys give the game something truly unique. I would even argue that they make the game what it is – they take away the tediousness of crafting and resource gathering and allow you to focus on the bigger picture problems like layout out your base, exploring or even just watching them to all the hard work while you take a nap. The game will generally set you back around £20 but is often on sale for around £10 (you really can’t say no to that). I played the PS4 version and have very little to fault it on there.

Overall it’s a very enjoyable game with a great amount of depth to it – it can be quite chill at times, at other moments you may be fighting for your life. As with all such games, things to tend to get a bit repetitive after a while and the loop of finding better materials for better tools to get better materials starts to become a bit tedious – that would be my only major criticism. Other than that the game has some truly unique elements to it and will keep you busy for hours on end. It also has that addictive moment where you just keep thinking to yourself: “one more day, one more job” and then you find you’ve actually played a few hours longer than expected.

Tips

  • Only go up 1 difficulty when moving to a new island, otherwise you won’t be able to gather resource and will probably get killed.
  • Gather as many monkeys as you can.
  • Setting monkeys to follow you and giving them weapons will allow them to fight alongside you.
  • Vaults aren’t too difficult, especially on the first island – they often contain monkeys as well.
  • You can give a chest to a monkey to carry as a way to have more storage space when out in the world.
  • Try to get to the 3rd difficulty island asap as you will find the materials for portals there – this will help you massively with navigating the world.
  • Find the Mysterious Stranger to buy the Mysterious Chest (36 slots) for 500 Doubloons – this will help you massively when adventuring.
  • Complete 3 quests for the Beastmaster to unlock the first backpack upgrade to be purchased from the Mysterious Stranger – these will then appear on the 2nd page of the crafting menu.

Useful Links

The Wanderer

The Game

The Wanderer is a mobile game made by Jamie Parish, an indie developer. The game draws inspiration from other post-apocalyptic titles (a few nods to Fallout), you will be challenged to survive and wander around the irradiated plains of what used to be a civilised world. At the beginning you are given a base camp where you can manage and store your resources, upgrade certain devices that will aid your survival and generally rest and reset between exploration missions. The core gameplay loop consists of you venturing out from your camp to various points on the map where you hope to find resources. Each hour of movement will cost you water and food, which you must replenish with the resources that you find. You will also have to maintain your health, illness and radiation levels as various foods or events can have an impact on those.

The game gives you some neat customisation options when starting out as well as a list of options that can make your playthrough even more challenging (should you choose to enable them). You will also have skill points to spend and you’ll earn more each time you level up. On your adventures you will often encounter random events where you will have a choice between several interactions – sometimes you may run into someone who requires some items, other times you may get attacked by irradiated monsters or bandits. When you arrive at points of interest you will be able to collect resources, these will reset each time you return to your home base. While there isn’t much to the core loop it can be quite addictive as you try to collect the resources you need to upgrade your tools and the ultimate goal is to repair the old van, which will massively aid you on your journeys.

Worth it?

The game has come a long way from its humble beginnings and there is really very little to fault on it. It’s great as both a casual game or something you spend hours on, trying to gather the right resources. There are some very minor gatcha elements like a log in reward, reward chests and you can watch videos to help boost XP or buy premium currency (which allows you to fast travel or respec), but for the most part these are completely unneeded and not intrusive at all.

Overall it’s a great little game and has all the key elements to keep you engaged for longer periods of time – things to build and upgrade, plenty to explore, some tricky resource management at times, quests, achievements, levels and even things like daily login rewards. It can be great for either a short play where you just go and explore a few locations or for extended sessions where venture much further from your home base or work towards building that van and upgrading your camp as much as possible. Definitely worth checking out as it is still being updated and actively improved,

Tips

  • If you are over exposed to radiation you will mutate – this will prevent you from getting radiation or illness from eating bad food, but you will lose health every hour. This can be easier to manage than constantly buying radiation masks
  • Revisit places near to your base – these reset every time you go back to your home base.
  • Focus on upgrading your backpack and base storage
    Recruiting the dog companion can be very useful as it can do really good damage at a higher level, however you will need to give it food and water
  • Don’t bother healing the dog as it will restore health provided it’s got food and water
  • Invest some points in Agility and Strength in order to increase the size of the hitbox in combat, as sometimes combat is pretty unavoidable
  • Ammo sells for quite a few caps
  • Karma will affect the sort of things that you find when scavenging – better karma, better loot

Useful Links