Although it may not feel like it, Stardew Valley is 5 years old. Its creator, Eric Barone (or ConcernedApe to use his moniker of choice), has kept it fresh in players’ hearts and minds with frequent updates, most recently the 1.5 update that added heaps of gameplay improvements, options, and a host of new content. For a solo developer, Stardew Valley has been a monumental achievement. When asked about the likelihood of any more Stardew updates, ConcernApe hinted that he was actually working on something brand new, though he didn’t reveal what. Well, now we know – Barone’s new project is called Haunted Chocolatier, and it’s about making chocolate in a haunted mansion. If you can think of a most delightful premise, I’d love to hear it.
In a blog post announcing the new title, ConcernedApe explained: “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. 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 channelled the energy of the sun, Haunted Chocolatier channels the energy of the moon. Both are vital.”
There’s no mistaking ConcernApe’s work – from the artwork to the music, this game screams Stardew Valley. As a solo developer, Barone has a harder task ahead of him than if he had a team, so it’s perhaps not surprising to see him re-using assets and art styles. ‘Reused assets’ is sometimes seen as a dirty phrase in gaming discussions, but the truth is it’s a reality of game development for even the largest of studios. And besides, when it looks so good, why change it?
The game is still deep in development, so ConcernApe hasn’t gone into many specifics about how the game will play out. We do know that the player will gather ingredients, make chocolate in the mansion, and then sell it at a chocolate shop they will run. Looking at the trailer though, it looks like the game might also bring some mechanics that we loved about Stardew Valley: combat, foraging, and relationships with your neighbours.
Haunted Chocolatier currently has no release date.