Stardew Valley fans, get ready to eat your heart out (quite literally, possibly). The developer behind the esteemed slice-of-life farming simulator, Eric Barone – AKA ConcernedApe – has announced his follow-up to the indie game that’s taken the world by storm: Haunted Chocolatier.
“After dedicating 10 years of my life to Stardew Valley (and counting), the time has finally come to announce my next game,” Barone noted on a website for the new game that went live alongside a new trailer, which you can see embedded in this article below. As you might have gleaned from the title of the game, it mostly revolves around setting up a business selling chocolate – with the help of a selection of friendly spirits (and we’re not talking about brandy or liqueurs).
As such, you’re going to be concerned more with conveying confectionary than you are pruning your pumpkin patch. Barone’s inspirations for the game take a step beyond the more mundane life you’ll see in Stardew Valley (as if whacking slimes to get gold is mundane, anyway). The lone developer “wanted to explore more fantastical possibilities,” in Haunted Chocolatier by creating something a little less grounded in reality, something that exists “beyond the ordinary.”
So get ready to make ectoplasm eclairs and read up on that special phantom frangipane, because this cosy, spooky surprise is liable to be as popular as Barone’s last game – and that means it’s going to take the world by storm.
Does Haunted Chocolatier have a release date?
As you can see from the gameplay trailer below, work on the game is coming along nicely. However, it’s worth mentioning that it’s still early days for the title, and Barone has said on his blog there’s still plenty of work to be done on the title.
“While the video I put together may look like the game is at an advanced stage of development, there is still a ton of stuff to do,” he noted.
“And the way I work, things often don’t come together until the final moments. I tend to work with a “vertical slice” approach, and so it’s easy to put together some video that looks like a finished game. But there is a ton of content I still need to make.”
What does that mean for the Haunted Chocolatier release date? Unfortunately, at this point, it could be a year away. It stands to reason we could see Haunted Chocolatier launch in 2023 or later. Take a look at the top corner of the image embedded above – would ConcernedApe slap a ‘2023’ in there on purpose, or is it a happy accident? We’ll just have to wait and see.
“So, please understand that it will be a while before this game is done. I’m going to be working on it as much as I can, though.”
Is Haunted Chocolatier coming to Nintendo Switch and consoles?
We know that Haunted Chocolatier is coming to PC – that much is certain. (Barone himself has said “the only platform I am 100% certain about is PC”). Given the upcoming Steam Deck can nearly every game in the Steam library, it stands to reason that we’ll see Haunted Chocolatier launch for Steam Deck, too.
But is Haunted Chocolatier going to arrive on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, or Nintendo Switch? It’s likely. Barone notes that he has “every intention of bringing [Haunted Chocolatier] to the other major platforms, as well”.
Given we saw Stardew Valley arrive on PC in 2016, before coming to PS4 and Xbox One (with the help of publisher Chucklefish) in December that year, it makes sense that we’d see Haunted Chocolatier see a similar launch pattern. Barone eventually self-published all versions of the game on all platforms – except mobile.
At this time, it’s unclear whether or not Chucklefish will help publish the new game, but it’s almost a dead certainty (no pun intended) that Barone will target consoles, mobile, and PC – when your last game sold over 15 million copies, you’re going to want to get the next one into as many hands as possible.
The game is built on a new engine, and though there are many differences to his previous release, Barone has noted he can reuse elements of the Stardew Valley code to help speed the development process up a touch.
Haunted Chocolatier gameplay
Barone’s key directive in developing this new title, it would appear, is simply to make it fun.
“It’s evolving organically as I develop it, so I’m not sure where it will go,” he’s explained. “But at its core, the gameplay loop involves gathering ingredients, making chocolate, and running a chocolate shop. Of course, there’s a lot more to the game than that, but I don’t want to get too deep into at this early stage, partly because I don’t want to be tied down to any particular concept of what the game is.”
Barone is looking towards what the game can do that Stardew Valley didn’t – and why not? 10 years’ worth of experience down the line, there’s surely a few things the genius developer is eager to try.
“I believe this will be a good opportunity, but I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet,” he notes. “I’ve been mostly working on the “meat and potatoes” of the game so far. But what really brings a game to life is the spice, the sauce. And I haven’t really gotten to the sauce yet. That’s coming.”
Check out the trailer above for a better insight into what the core gameplay loop of the game will look like.
Haunted Chocolatier early gameplay video: pic.twitter.com/dYws8GgsKB
— ConcernedApe (@ConcernedApe) October 21, 2021
Is Haunted Chocolatier like Stardew Valley?
Though the art style and some elements of the gameplay may look similar, there are some distinct differences between Barone’s two projects.
“In Stardew Valley, the focus was more humble: living off the land, growing food, and connecting to the people and nature around you,” he’s explained. “However, with my next game, I wanted to explore more fantastical possibilities… experiences that take you beyond the ordinary. That’s where magical haunted ghost chocolate comes in.”
And a lot of the difference comes from the chocolate itself – it’s more than just window dressing for the game; it’s a key part of its identity.
“Chocolate represents that which is delightful. The haunted castle represents the allure of the unknown. The ghosts represent the imprint of the past. All of these things are important.
If you’re in love with that wholesome, upbeat vibe that Stardew Valley has practically become synonymous with, don’t fret: Barone isn’t abandoning that.
“However, don’t think for a moment that, because this game features ghosts in a haunted castle, it is an evil or negative game. On the contrary, I intend for this game to be positive, uplifting and life-affirming. However, if Stardew Valley mostly channeled the energy of the sun, Haunted Chocolatier channels the energy of the moon. Both are vital.”