NS Review – Grave Keeper (Switch)

You’re a lone wolf crusader type breaking into the Skeleton King’s castle to steal his copious amounts of treasure. To get this treasure you have to fight your way through wave after wave of minions in a chilled out slow pace twin stick shooter style. Welcome to Grave Keeper.

I didn’t know zombies blood was so shiny.

You get thrown straight in and the first few stages you have your tutorial teaching you that you have a cross now, basic melee attack and special attack. All of these are upgradeable with coins stolen from the corpses of the undead you’ve re-killed. Every 5 stages a boss rolls round and you get s minor chest containing 2 weapons/armour/special moves. The mobile roots are plainly obvious but with the removal of auto aim and adverts the gameplay and pace of the game are both massively improved making the Switch version the definitive edition.

Ah, the Skeleton King, I will rob your grave.

Enemies come in a few varieties and of those there’s runs that run at you and hit you and ones that throw stuff at you. It’s those pesky ones that throw stuff you have to watch out for as you only move fast enough to even think about escaping the arrows or magic balls if you’re not attacking.

Ha, giant boss, you are no match for a impregnable bush.

After what probably would be two short sessions for any sane person, I hit what would be a paywall in the mobile version, but we are free of the shackle of free to play, so this is a grind wall. Where you repeat the same stage over and over until you have amassed enough moolah to upgrade your equipment the right amount to pay waste to these terrible undead beings who are just trying to do an honest days work protecting their masters treasure. To be honest it doesn’t take long to upgrade your equipment enough to move on and the quickfire nature of the game keeps the pace up enough though it is a slower paced twin stick shooter and the fact that brute force is the best way to go allows those who find twin stick shooters difficult to be able to enjoy in the fun, plus you’ve always got your trusty melee weapon.

Once you first beat the Skeleton King all that happens is the game goes “teehee you didn’t win really” and kicks you back to the start of the game with no money and all your equipment gone only to have to grind your way back again. The devs need to learn that new game + comes with a +. I even had to go through the same tutorials again… (Update – that is an error in the game and will be patched very soon so hopefully you will keep your stuff as you go back to fight hordes of the Skeleton King’s minions).

You might win this time Skeleton King but with no microtransactions to hold me down, I will be back!

You have 3 quick fire missions at a time which keeps the game addictive as you are never far from achieving a mission and hoping that the next one will give gems instead of healing potions that are next to useless as there’s no consequence to dying other than starting the current stage of kill 15 again. There’s also daily quests to keep you coming back each day.

A good reason to play some more.

Grave Keeper’s biggest problem is that it’s removed the console gamer’s worst nightmare, microtransactions only to leave the impossible to realistically get without microtransaction bonuses. 125gems for a legendary chest when after a decent play session I had 5, with only 6 in sight for the future. On the other hand maybe that doesn’t matter at all as you lose all your items anyway a run in with the Skeleton King and going 600 stages you’ll probably earn that 125 from the missions. That is once the game will eventually let you go for the long haul (it wouldn’t let me past 30 stages before the Skeleton King even though I beat him a good few times).

Slowly making your way to do 600 stages is going to keep you going a long time.

The graphics are on the cuter side but can’t escape it’s mobile roots, the weapons all look pleasingly different but there are only two environments. What looks like it could pass for a graveyard minus the tombstones and inside a creepy castle, I assume the Skeleton Kings castle.

As for the sound, there’s only one song that seems to be on a 30 second loop and even in those 30 seconds it doesn’t deviate very far, probably best to turn it off and listen to your own music, oh why oh why Nintendo don’t you have that feature built in for occasions like this. The woosh of your crossbow and swoosh of your sword are nice and oddly calming once you’ve turned the music off.

Thank you for having real twin stick controls not auto aim like the mobile version.

I’ve never played a game in such a desperate need of a dodge button, it would add so much to the slightly addictive gameplay loop allowing for skill rather than just brute force mixed with running away and the all powerful revive button. Nonetheless Grave Keeper is quite chilled out fun especially if you like the grind. Grave Keeper is probably better suited to the little ones so long as you make it clear how important it is to upgrade that armour so you don’t die in two unavoidable hits. Even at £4.49 if you already own a Forever Entertainment game (and you should, there’s some great ones) it’s quite a steep asking price but could be worth getting when it hits a sale as these sort of games often do on Switch and it’s still a million miles better than the mobile version, on the other hand if you enjoy the grind and the simple nature of the game it will keep you going a REALLY long time then £4.49 is a bargain for no ads, microtransactions and proper aiming.

What a beautiful grasp of the English language you have narrator lady.

Grave Keeper is available digitally on Nintendo Switch eShop for £8.99/€9.99/$9.99 and as if writing is 50% off if you own a Forever Entertainment title. Thank you to Forever Entertainment for providing the review code

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