Stardew-like meets murder mystery Grave Seasons has some supernatural secrets still to come
Developers Perfect Garbage tease a few details
Last month Rachel made us aware of a life sim called Grave Seasons, a kind of mash up of perennial favourite Stardew Valley and, er, the half-season serial killer arc of a police procedural TV show. Naturally this turned my head, like Tarantino walking past a ladies shoe store, and I emailed the developers Perfect Garbage to find out a bit more. They describe the game as "fun, campy and spooky" and hint at yet more secrets to be revealed. Appropriate for a game where, every time you start a new run, one of the townsfolk starts killing everyone else.
Studio director and co-founder Son M. (who first caught Rachel's eye by posting some fun screenshots on Twitter tells me that Grave Seasons is in early development - and indeed, Perfect Garbage have a cyberpunk visual novel called Love Shore coming down the game-release pipeline, due for release later this year (there's a demo on Steam right now).
My main question was asking for the team's elevator pitch on the game, which I will reproduce in full below:
Grave Season is a narrative-driven farming sim/life sim that follows you, an outsider, making a new home for yourself in a small village. As you farm, fish, and begin your new, peaceful life in town, you find that the residents are a little odd... and that there's a serial killer on the loose. If you don't want your hard-earned serenity to be ruined, you must solve these supernatural murders and find the culprit before it's too late.
The word supernatural really stands out for me there. We already knew that there would be murders of course - one of the screenshots Son M. shared shows the player's journal, where they can keep track of who has been killed and their relationships with the townsfolk - but supernatural puts a different spin on it for me. Is the motive supernatural? Is this some Lovecraft shit again, because that's been in for a while?
Speaking of relationships, as well as it being possible to accidentally romance the murderer, I have confirmation that you can also romance a character in Grave Seasons only to see them get absolutely done in. Your relationships with the townsfolk are also one of the planned ways you can gather clues to solve the mystery, which also include "participating in life in the village and examining the patterns to each murder".
It sounds like the intention with Grave Seasons is going full ham with the murder mystery element, making it feel more authored even where it isn't. But the life sim side is going to have a bunch of hashtag content too. "There's a bit more to Grave Seasons than farming," and the team estimate the ratio of life sim tasks to "spooky town mystery" to be about 50:50.
Obviously this is very early days for Grave Seasons yet, but I'm excited to see more, and it sounds like Perfect Garbage are excited to show more when they can. "Reception to Grave Seasons has been really wonderful, and we're really looking forward to bringing in fun, campy, and spooky vibes to a genre of games we already enjoy," says Son M. "Plus, there's some funky secret mechanics we can't wait to showcase." Funky secret mechanics combined with the murders being supernatural has got me all riled up. Or maybe you get to do Batman detecto-vision like in the Arkham Games. Who knows? The future is an open book. We'll keep checking in with Grave Seasons. The road to development is long, but it's interesting.