isn’t the kind of game I expected to be
reviewing in 2019. While indie games made to pay tribute to classic titles from
gaming’s past aren’t all that rare by today’s standards, Grave Keeper managed to invoke its own form of nostalgia. It may
not be the deepest game, even among others within the same genre, but Grave Keeper offers a casual kind of fun
that almost make it worth the price of admission.

Developed by indie studio Baldur Games, Grave Keeper is a hack and slash action
game with light RPG elements. Players take on the role of a nameless bounty
hunter, aiming to defeat the skeleton king in order to steal all the treasures
from its stronghold. Players hoping for some sort of story will be disappointed
to learn that Grave Keeper offers
nothing more in terms of a plot. Even the character who provides the game’s
tutorial offers no introduction, almost as though Grave Keeper assumes players know exactly what’s going on.

places players in a small arena where they
must clear through waves of enemies before taking on a stage boss. Much like
its story, Grave Keeper’s graphics
are nothing special. The game’s character models are decent, but many Grave Keeper’s enemies are reused
palette swaps. The game’s limited number of arenas fare slightly worse,
sometimes appearing flat and lacking textures. A much bigger and far more
annoying problem with Grave Keeper
stems from its audio. Even more so than the number of available arenas, Grave Keeper features an extremely
limited number of audio tracks. While the few included aren’t necessarily bad,
the short length causes the songs to loop endless until they much more annoying
than they are.

Grave Keeper (PC) Review 2

At first, playing Grave Keeper can feel like a mindless task. In addition to melee
weapon attacks, players can fire a long-range crossbow with an unlimited amount
of ammo. The game starts out easy, throwing slow moving enemies to help give
players a taste of what they’re in for. Defeated enemies grant experience
points to level up along with gold which can be used to upgrade equipment. Grave Keeper’s accessibility along with
its smooth controls make the game seem easy to grasp and will help players
prepare themselves for the eventual increase in difficulty. Grave Keeper offers daily missions and
quests, encouraging players to try out everything the game has to offer while
gifting players helpful items such as health replenishing potions.

After clearing the required number of enemy
waves, players can decide for themselves when they want to challenge the
stage’s boss. This seemed like a game breaking mechanic. Depending on how
determined you are, you could grind endlessly until you’re far above the
necessary level, making the next few stages a cakewalk. As enemies become more
aggressive though, level grinding becomes a greater risk of its own. In
addition, Grave Keeper has players
make similar choices when it comes to upgrading equipment. Defeating bosses at
the end of the stage rewards players with loot in the form of new equipment or
special techniques, raising the question of holding onto gold to upgrade
potentially better weapons or upgrading what you already have equipped.

Grave Keeper (PC) Review 3
Grave Keeper – Review Screenshots Provided by Baldur Games

For as much fun as Grave Keeper is, the game’s business model is one that will
potentially turn players away from ever purchase it. Grave Keeper originally released for mobile devices late last
year…for free. While Grave Keeper
doesn’t cost much on PC, it’s hard to justify purchasing it over downloading
the mobile version for no cost. The PC version is meant to have some form of
multiplayer, but the mode is currently unavailable, making it completely indistinguishable
from its mobile counterpart. An even worse fact is that the PC version retains
the micro transactions found in the mobile version of the game.

Playing Grave Keeper felt like I was
playing a remake of a lost Sega Genesis title. As the game’s challenge
increased, I found myself having to act quickly and strategize more often,
leading to a more fun experience. Still, knowing I could’ve had the exact same
experience for free on my phone ended up souring a game that never felt like a
must-have in the first place. Hopefully, the PC version of Grave Keeper
continues to receive updates adding new content in order to justify its new
price tag.          

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