Graveyard Keeper is a fun dark twist on the Harvest Moon/Stardew Valley type of game. I think there are a few pacing issues to work out and a little more depth needs to be added. That said, what they have now is a darkly fun twist on a fairly established concept.
Central to the game is the embalming system, though. It’s the key to creating a stellar graveyard, which is the titular mechanic to the game. There isn’t a lot in the game to teach you about the intricacies of the embalming system, though. I’d played for a while before I realized embalming did more than simply get you needed bits for other crafts, and then it was even longer before I realized there was actually a system to embalming that would let you improve the bodies before putting them in the ground.
Blood and fat are your two main tools, especially early on. Each can be removed to change one red skull into a white one. If the bodies only have two red skulls, then remove those two parts and you’re done. It gets harder when you have more skulls, though.
Early in the game, you could just get the bodies down as best you can and then throw them into a grave. When you have the upgraded table and the ability to reliably engage in more advanced butchery, dig them back up with an Exhumation Permission from the Royal Services box outside your church to do a little post-mortem cosmetic surgery.
At that point, you’ll be able to start using the heart, brain, and intestines to attempt to do better. Each removes two random skulls from the quality of the corpse, and it’s not always the same ones. The problem is that the two skulls removed are random. If you have three or more red skulls, you’re better off doing these first in order to improve your chances of removing a red skull, or two if you get lucky.
An early approach when you see three skulls is to extract brain, heart, or intestines first. You’re more likely to get one of the red skulls, and two of them if you’re lucky.
After chancing the randomness of hearts, brains, and intestines, you’ll hopefully be at two red skulls or better and then be able to remove blood and fat as needed to get to a perfect body. Though sometimes you’ll lose a white skull or two in the process and while you have no red ones, the lack of white skulls limits the level of décor you can get from the body.
Luckily, you can eventually get access to injections that give you a whole new range of options. Some, just like the embalming options, are more helpful than others. A Restore Injection will reduce the corpse’s decay, for instance. Glue will give you an additional white skull. Lye gives you one of each. Acid removes one of each. Dark adds two red. Silver will exchange one red for one white, or gold will exchange two each.
The key ones are probably glue, acid, and lye, though. Acid basically acts like brain, intestines, and heart, except that it’s a guaranteed one of each. You can then use the glue to add the white skull back that you lost. The good thing about the lye is that if you haven’t used blood or fat yet, it’s effectively a way of getting two additional white skulls, which is pretty handy. Of course, you could also add a red skull by removing the corpse’s skull, so if you’re just short one red to use that gold injection, that’s an option for you.
If you’re like me and missed the subtleties of the embalming system the first go around, hopefully, this guide gets you sorted and moving in the right direction. I am definitely going to be digging up a few folks in an attempt to improve their final disposition some small amount where possible.
With a new body every night (did I mention how insanely often people die in this game?), my worst case is a total refill and replace… a bit of embalming humor for you there. The only problem is whether the bodies dam up downriver somewhere and create a new lake. In that case, the next article might end up being a fishing guide. Cross your fingers!