ConcernedApe, or Eric Barone, has spent the last decade developing Stardew Valley almost entirely on his own, building an engine, composing music, writing a story, and doing all the art himself. Stardew Valley's development may be a labor of love, but as the years go on and development winds down, many are wondering when the next Stardew Valley is coming. The good news is here: ConcernedApe's next game, the successor to Stardew Valley, has been announced. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about the next Stardew Valley: Haunted Chocolatier.
What Is Haunted Chocolatier?
First off, Barone released a gameplay trailer for Haunted Chocolatier, so you can go watch that and see the new game in action.
Big picture, Haunted Chocolatier is a new game being built completely solo by Barone, using the same engine and art style as Stardew Valley (with a ton of overlapping mechanics), that has players run a chocolate shop in the Stardew Valley universe. However, Haunted Chocolatier, as the title suggests, is a lot less grounded than Stardew Valley and will feature ghosts and a wide variety of fantastical elements.
Obviously, from Slimes to Junimos to the variety of mobs you fight in the mines in Stardew Valley, the game isn't particularly realistic, but according to ConcernedApe, Haunted Chocolatier explores "more fantastical possibilities… experiences that take you beyond the ordinary" which is where "magical haunted ghost chocolate comes in."
Barone, in a blog post, makes this comparison between Haunted Chocolatier and Stardew Valley: [If] Stardew Valley mostly channeled the energy of the sun, Haunted Chocolatier channels the energy of the moon. Both are vital." But make no mistake, Haunted Chocolatier won't be a dreary, dark, and depressing game.
ConcernedApe, in the same blog post, goes on to make it clear that the tone of Haunted Chocolatier will be in line with Stardew Valley: "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."
Stardew Valley is a farming sim in the style of Harvest Moon, but Haunted Chocolatier isn't going to be in the same genre. Rather than Harvest Moon, think Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale or any other game like Graveyard Keeper where players are tasked with running a shop.
However, don't expect Haunted Chocolatier to be the same thing as other shop-running games, because ConcernedApe has spoken about how with Haunted Chocolatier he wanted to try out cool, new ideas that might not have been a good fit for Stardew Valley.
While only a few details have been released about Haunted Chocolatier at this early stage in its development, but Barone did describe how the game would have a much bigger focus on combat than Stardew Valley did, so the combat system in Haunted Chocolatier will be significantly more complex than Stardew Valley's system.
To this end, shields will be coming to Haunted Chocolatier among a variety of other hand items suited for different playstyles. More advanced mechanics like blocking attacks to stun enemies allowing you to swoop in deal tons of damage if you time it right are also coming to Haunted Chocolatier.
When Is Haunted Chocolatier Coming Out?
Barone does not have a release date for Haunted Chocolatier yet, and it won't be coming anytime soon. When he announced Haunted Chocolatier at the end of October 2021, ConcernedApe mentioned he had been working on the game for about a year and that he did not intend to release the game until he was completely satisfied with it.
If you followed Stardew Valley's development, from the original announcement all the way back in 2012 to a 1.0 release in 2016, you'll know Barone takes his time, which makes sense when one single man is coding, writing, and designing a big game with lots of content. So, don't expect Haunted Chocolatier to come out next year.
It'll likely be at the very least a few years before we get to Haunted Chocolatier's 1.0 release, and then inevitably, Barone will support the game with tons of free content for years after the initial launch of the game. Essentially, expect a long ride.
Barone has a website up for Haunted Chocolatier where you can visit a blog where ConcernedApe talks about how the game's coming along, but he hasn't committed to any regular update schedule, simply opting to update people as he feels it's appropriate. So, remember to check back every now and then if you want to stay up-to-date with all the latest Haunted Chocolatier information.
Is Stardew Valley Not Being Updated Anymore?
The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is no, not really.
Eric has discussed how his primary focus is now Haunted Chocolatier, so he isn't working on any Stardew Valley content at the moment. However, since the last major feature update 1.5 that launched at the beginning of 2021, small bug fix patches and stability updates have come to Stardew Valley.
Plus, mobile hasn't yet even been updated to 1.5, so that update is still incoming, too. This is all not to mention that Eric hasn't ruled out the possibility of adding new content to Stardew Valley in the future, like new romanceable characters, there simply just aren't plans for that at the moment.
It's also important to note that in the last few years, while Barone has moved away from Chucklefish and into self-publishing Stardew Valley himself, he's hired another developer to work on Stardew Valley with him. Barone still handles the game's creative direction, but this to say these simpler updates will likely not be handled by Barone, allowing him to focus on Haunted Chocolatier.
So, if you're on a platform like PC where Stardew Valley is fully up-to-date, don't expect much in the way of new content for at least a while, but don't feel like the game is dead either. If issues pop up with it, they will be addressed, and eventually, all platforms the game runs on will get updated to the latest version.