On Oct. 21, ConcernedApe posted a short early-access gameplay trailer for Haunted Chocolatier, an apparent follow-up to his hit game Stardew Valley. Four days after being posted, the video already boasts 1,468,266 views on YouTube. The view count is a testament to people’s excitement for the game, which makes sense given that the video has a lot to offer.
For starters, the fact that the game is being developed by ConcernedApe already sets high expectations. Eric Barone, the man behind the pseudonym ConcernedApe, is also the developer of Stardew Valley. It has a rating of overwhelmingly positive on Steam with 335,765 reviews, as well as over 15 million downloads across multiple platforms, including PC, PlayStation, Xbox and even a mobile version.
“Like Stardew Valley, Haunted Chocolatier is another ‘town game’, where you move to a new town and try your hand at a new way of living. You’ll get to know the townspeople, achieve your goals and make progress in many ways. All of that is similar to Stardew Valley,” ConcernedApe said on the Haunted Chocolatier website’s F.A.Q. page. “However, the core gameplay and theming are quite a bit different. Haunted Chocolatier is more of an action-RPG compared to Stardew Valley. And instead of a farm being the focal point of your endeavors, it’s a chocolate shop.”
Stardew Valley is known for being a cozy game with a wide range of activities players can choose from. At its core, the goal of the game is to take over and maintain the farm that your recently deceased grandfather once owned; however, there are a variety of different ways to go about it. Farmers can choose to focus solely on raising animals, planting crops, mining, foraging, or they can choose to do a combination of all of the options.
One of the most popular aspects of the game is the romance feature. Farmers can choose from a variety of characters to romance or befriend by talking to them and giving them gifts. The characters all have their own personalities and dialogue, and they often hang out together around the town. If romance isn’t your style, you can simply stick to befriending characters, or asking a cute monster named Krobus to be your roommate instead. The game also allows for farmers to romance any character regardless of gender, which differentiates it from games like Dragon Age, where players can only romance certain characters, depending on their sexualities.
Stardew Valley’s art style is another reason why players enjoy it so much, and luckily, it looks like Haunted Chocolatier is going to use the same one.
Haunted Chocolatier appears to have a unique cast of characters as well, another similarity to Stardew Valley that fans are excited about. Many fans are speculating that this means there will be a similar romance system.
However, it looks like that’s where the similarities end.
“In Stardew Valley, the focus was more humble: living off the land, growing food, and connecting to the people and nature around you,” ConcernedApe said in a blog post. “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.”
In the same post, he clarifies that Haunted Chocolatier isn’t a dark game.
“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,”ConcernedApe said. “However, if Stardew Valley mostly channeled the energy of the sun, Haunted Chocolatier channels the energy of the moon. Both are vital.”
Currently, ConcernedApe is the only person working on the development of the game, and he doesn’t have a set release date planned, which gives me enough time to finish my Stardew Valley save before setting my focus on Haunted Chocolatier.
I’m excited to see where this game goes and how it differs from Stardew Valley. While I love Stardew Valley, and I’m glad that the art style is the same, I think playing a game that’s basically just Stardew Valley in a different font would be boring. Maintaining some of the things that players loved the most such as the art style and the romance system seems like a smart move, but I’m really excited to see what kind of different mechanics Haunted Chocolatier is going to introduce.