Stardew Valley creator Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone has finally given fans a proper look at his new game, entitled Haunted Chocolatier.
The game designer showed a gameplay trailer for the new game after years of speculation over what was in store for fans. There are finally some answers, with Haunted Chocolatier looking to be a blend of Stardew Valley and the Atelier series published by Koei Tecmo. Rather than juggling various goals at the same time, the game seems to be focused on building up a shop by crafting better products.
ConcernedApe discussed that he may be done delivering substantial Stardew Valley updates following the game’s first esports event in September.
The trailer starts by showing a snowy city that looks exactly like something out of Stardew Valley. This includes characters that would look right at home in Pelican Town both in terms of their sprites and portraits, as well as similarly shaped buildings and environments.
The differences became more apparent over time. Encounters with enemies were much more dynamic and were in much larger areas than those of Stardew Valley, with enemies leaping out of disguises and dashing at the players. Players are also shown remodeling their shop, changing their stock, and selling their chocolates. Between these scenes is the player character seemingly jumping into a painting, collecting ingredients for their chocolates, and crafting treats.
There are also scenes with the player interacting with NPCs. Though the game looks to be fun, the dialog shown teases a potentially dark story.
ConcernedApe opened up about the development of Haunted Chocolatier on the game’s official website. He touched upon how there are more options with developing a game that doesn’t comfortably fit into a genre, rather than having to bow to genre conventions in a farming sim like Stardew Valley.
“There are so many possibilities. With Stardew Valley, I felt somewhat constrained, because I was working within an established tradition…there’s always been a part of me that wanted to go ‘unleashed.’ I believe this will be a good opportunity…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,” ConcernedApe said.
Though Haunted Chocolatier looks to have similarities with many other games, the farming sim has been done many times over. Stardew Valley is a classic and ushered in a tidal wave of new games in the genre, but there were many other forerunners such as Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, and Rune Factory. Stardew Valley did everything very well, but didn’t necessarily reinvent the genre.
By comparison, Haunted Chocolatier has much more wiggle room for creativity. ConcernedApe is clearly revelling in that.
It seems as though Haunted Chocolatier isn’t going to come out for a long time.
No release date was given for the game, not even an estimate. Given the fact that ConcernedApe has been approaching the game at his own pace, it could be years before it comes out. He discussed this on the game’s website.
“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…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,” ConcernedApe said.