The adorably macabre is the new vogue these days. Itís become the little black dress of the casual gaming industry. I recently reviewed Plants vs. Zombies, which manages to maneuver the ground between the two extremes of this concept (being, of course, the cute and the creepy) very well. Striking the right note when youíre trying to present dark content in a light-hearted manner can be really tricky. Missing the mark can result in a game that just feels ďoffĒ.
My overall impression of Graveyard Shift is that itís a game that dances back and forth across the line that makes these games a success. Itís a game that combines the cute and the ghoulish, but more than feeling fun and whimsical, the game ends up feeling a bit uneven. It has bright points and fun touches, but the end product is, for lack of a more artful phrase, funky.
The StoryThe story for Graveyard Shift is where the game begins its bizarre and charming journey. Mr. Jones, the lovable old star of the game, has gotten a call from his sweetheart Mimi. She has moved out to the tropics and misses Mr. Jones. So, of course, she calls him up and tells him heíll need all sorts of beach garb to come before he can join heróand a million dollars for her to use as spending cash. What an adorable little gold-digger. Mr. Jones, sensible man that he is, then assumes, of course, that the best way for him to earn this money is by entering the lucrative field of graveyard ownership.
Itís a wacky little way to frame the gameplay, but I canít shake the feeling that itís trying a little too hard. The game progresses as, at the end of each day, Mr. Jones is able to store half of his current cash level in a savings account, and he uses those funds to buy the items he needs to reunite with Mimi. Once an item is purchased, Mimi calls Mr. Jones to remind him of the next item needed. At certain preset thresholds, Mr. Jones is prevented from buying a new item until heís increased the scope of his graveyard business, which leads us nicely toÖ