Haunted Chocolatier is the eagerly-awaited next outing from Stardew Valley creator Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone, which you could probably tell from a quick glance. While there's a strong resemblance with the beloved farm life sim, Haunted Chocolatier's ditching the farm business for sweeter pastures: It's chocolate shop sim time. Also, there are ghosts.
Barone revealed Haunted Chocolatier with a surprise announcement back in 2021. While the unveiling immediately sent the frothing masses of Stardew fans into a frenzy of excitement, Barone quickly retreated back behind the curtain to work on the life sim in secret. Can't blame him, really. Frothing masses can be a lot. Still, we've gotten a few brief glimpses at what to expect from the Stardew successor. Here's everything we know about Haunted Chocolatier.
Is there a Haunted Chocolatier release date?
We don't know when Haunted Chocolatier will launch yet. Barone first announced it with a reveal trailer in October 2021. Throughout Stardew Valley's lifespan, Barone has preferred developing updates away from the public eye, releasing teaser images very sparingly. The same has been true since Haunted Chocolatier's announcement, and we can expect that to continue. When it was announced, Barone said he'd already been working on it in secret for over a year.
"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," Barone said about the reveal trailer. "And the way I work, things often don’t come together until the final moments."
Haunted Chocolatier development is on-pause while Stardew gets updated
Barone announced on Twitter in April 2023 that he'd placed his work on Haunted Chocolatier on temporary hiatus, thanks to an in-progress 1.6 update for Stardew Valley that's taking priority. Worth noting is that 1.6 looks to be a smaller scale update than Stardew's last patch.
Barone's offered a few more details about what Stardew 1.6 will include in the months since. As of September 2023, it seems like Stardew 1.6 remains Barone's current development priority.
Here's the first Haunted Chocolatier trailer
The first teaser trailer for Haunted Chocolatier really sets expectations that it will feel very familiar to Stardew Valley fans. Barone is using the same art style, though he has said that the pixel art has mostly been baked fresh for Chocolatier. It looks like we'll be fighting enemies, talking with the locals, and brewing chocolates for our very own shops.
Feast your eyes: here's the newest Haunted Chocolatier screenshots
Earning a response like it was a rare gift from a benevolent but distant god, after months without sign or symbol of Haunted Chocolatier, Barone descended to Twitter in September 2023 to bestow a blessing on this weary world. By which I mean he uploaded a Haunted Chocolatier screenshot, followed by four more in early October. Here are the latest peeks:
While there are no hauntings or chocolates pictured, the old man bears a strong resemblance to the player's Grandpa in Stardew Valley, as do the later screenshots of the countryside. This has ignited theories about a connection between the two games. A sequel? A prequel? A sidequel? An AU? We'll have to wait and see.
As you might expect, the first screenshot also generated discussion about Barone's infrequent development updates. Responding in a Tweet, Barone said "there's plenty more that I haven't revealed, I just like to work in secret mainly."
So what kind of game is Haunted Chocolatier?
Instead of a farming simulation, Chocolatier is a shop sim where you'll be creating chocolate and selling it in your store. Like Stardew, Chocolatier has a local town full of stores and NPCs with their own stories that you'll get to know as you grow your shop.
"I’m not sure how best to describe it," Barone said in his announcement blog post, "but at its core, the gameplay loop involves gathering ingredients, making chocolate, and running a chocolate shop."
One thing that Barone has gone a little deeper on is the combat, which he says is a greater focus in his next game. Chocolatier will have shields, which you can use to block attacks and stun enemies as a result. Barone says there will be other off-hand items as alternatives to shields to complement different play styles.
The reveal trailer also showed a player using a bow and arrow. Neat!
We haven't gotten much explanation on exactly how running your chocolate shop works, but there are some snippets to catch in the reveal trailer. You can spot a player choosing from different countertop styles, setting out different types of chocolate on the counters in their shop, and a crowd of characters walking around the shop while it's open as your ghost friends carry chocolate over their heads.
Barone also mentioned in an interview with VGKami that Chocolatier will have romantic relationships again. "There will be relationships like in Stardew Valley. I haven’t decided exactly how the system will work, yet. And I expect to approach some things differently this time around."
Is Haunted Chocolatier co-op?
Nope, Haunted Chocolatier is going to be singleplayer only. With Stardew Valley, multiplayer was added as a major game update after launch. Barone isn't planning to do the same thing this time around. As with Stardew's early days though, it's possible that modders will find a way to add multiplayer even without official support.
Haunted Chocolatier will have boss fights
Casually revealed in a livestream back in April 2022, Haunted Chocolatier will, evidently, feature boss fights in its combat. Surprise! Barone joined the composing software developers at Reason Studios to talk about the soundtrack process for Stardew Valley. Along the way, Barone debuted a track for a bossfight in Haunted Chocolatier—no, we didn't know there were any.
The track in question, judging from the title "beeboss," indicates that there'll be a boss fight against a bee enemy. Probably encountered while gathering honey. For chocolate. Barone also revealed some of the game's general background music, with a more somber track called Pristine Snow.
Will Haunted Chocolatier have mods?
Barone hasn't specifically mentioned modding support or tools for Haunted Chocolatier yet, but I think it's a very safe bet to assume there will be mods for Chocolatier regardless. Barone was supportive of modders during his years of Stardew Valley updates, and the same will likely be true with Chocolatier. Given just how many Stardew Valley mods exist, fans of Barone's second game will likely be just as keen to start adding their own custom pieces.
Here are the Haunted Chocolatier characters we've seen
Local villagers are likely going to be an important part of Chocolatier the way they are in Stardew Valley. Here are the few characters we've seen so far in the reveal trailer:
- Lily - She lives in a neon, plant-filled home, but that's all we know!
- Burk - He appears to run a forge and shop that sells weapons.
- Maddie - Another villager, though we don't know anything about her either.
- Jett - Works in a research lab for someone named Dr. Tungsten.
- Nigel - A local bartender in what looks like an underground bar.