Stardew Valley dev explains what you actually do in Haunted Chocolatier, and how Diablo 2 influenced it

Haunted Chocolatier
(Image credit: ConcernedApe)

In a new interview, Stardew Valley creator Eric 'ConcernedApe' Barone has offered a whole lot more detail on the gameplay and influences of his upcoming game, Haunted Chocolatier.

"When I was in the early stages of Haunted Chocolatier, I was playing a bunch of Diablo 2," Barone tells ScreenRant. "Getting loot and seeing your numbers go up on the stats? I like that stuff. I feel like a lot of Stardew Valley players aren't that into it, but I've just got to do what I think is fun. And I think that'll shine through in the game, if I'm excited about it."

Another starting point for Haunted Chocolatier was Barone asking himself "What if I made a game that was like the mines in Stardew Valley, but fully fleshed out and done really well?"

According to Barone, "the core of the game is actually gathering ingredients; that's the biggest part of the game. The shop is a little more passive." Gathering ingredients will have you exploring the world - including the magical realms you can portal into - collecting items by both combat and less violent trials. You'll then use those ingredients to make the chocolates for your shop.

You'll take a hands-on role running the shop at first, but as you progress in the game you'll be able to put ghosts to work handling the store's day-to-day operations. Barone says "there'll be a certain kind of a sim element, like a game like Rollercoaster Tycoon or something where the customers have certain needs and desires." Satisfied customers will spread the word to other shoppers, adding to your popularity. A "weekly chocolate news" system will see buyers going wild for certain types of items from week-to-week, too.

All these details have a caveat: Haunted Chocolatier is still in active development, and quite some distance from release, so everything is subject to change. Barone notes that Stardew Valley took him four and a half years to develop, and he's been working on Haunted Chocolatier for less than two years, so there's quite a bit more to be done.

Barone also says he's been playing World of Warcraft as a "little bit of a guilty pleasure", but fans shouldn't be worried that an MMO obsession is going to slow development on Haunted Chocolatier. In fact, Barone was also playing WoW during Stardew Valley's development, which helped influence that game's feel.

"People don't realize this, but one thing that I have to say about World of Warcraft and Blizzard games in general is that they're really good at making things really juicy," he says of the MMO. "Just gathering stuff or whatever, there'll be big blinging things on the screen that make you feel really satisfied. I tried to put it into Stardew Valley, with all the sound effects when you're picking stuff up. Something as simple as gathering is satisfying in itself, even though it's a very simple thing, if you think about it."

Haunted Chocolatier might be even further out, but there are plenty of new games for 2023 to keep on your radar.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.