Forget managing your quaint country farm. It’s time to sell candy with ghost employees.
Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone, the solo developer behind the high-profile Harvest Moon fan-game Stardew Valley, made a surprise announcement via Twitter on Thursday afternoon that his next game, Haunted Chocolatier, is in development.
Barone describes Haunted Chocolatier’s genre as RPG/simulation, with more of an action element than Stardew Valley had. You will, once again, be coming to a new town as a stranger, to meet and befriend the locals, but this time, you take up residence in a haunted castle.
Once there, you’ll gather ingredients and use them to create salable chocolate for your shop. Barone’s early footage features the customizable player character fighting monsters, shaking bushes for berries, shooting a bow, and teleporting to distant locales with the use of what appears to be a magical painting.
In other words, it’s typical candy store stuff. Everyone knows that Godiva chocolates are 50% dead slimes by volume.
Barone has clarified via the Chocolatier website that this is another solo project, as Stardew Valley was, and that the game is nowhere near complete. He dropped a short piece of gameplay footage via Twitter which features similar pixel-based characters, environments, and gift-giving to Stardew Valley, but with more of a Gothic, dark feel.
“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,” Barone said in his initial announcement, visibly channeling Hideo Kojima.
“However, don’t think for a moment that, because this game features ghosts in a haunted castle, it is an evil or negative game,” Barone continued. “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… More important than all that, I just want to make a fun game.”
Haunted Chocolatier has no set release date, with Barone saying there’s a “ton of content” that he still has to make for it. He doesn’t currently intend to bring aboard any additional employees for the game, and will self-publish it under his own brand.
Barone previously made Stardew Valley by himself over the course of four years, while working as an usher in the Paramount Theater in Seattle. Initially published by Chucklefish on Steam in 2016, Stardew was later ported to multiple platforms, including mobile devices, and went on to sell over 15 million copies by early September of 2021.
Stardew‘s most recent content patch, January’s v.1.5 update, added a new region to the world, along with an unlockable island resort, a new major NPC, additional difficulty customization, and about a thousand other things.