Having been a fan of the Chocolatier series I was both delighted and disappointed after playing this sequel, Decadence by Design. On one hand, PlayFirst’s latest proved to be a highly polished adventure with challenging gameplay and charming characters and story. But despite a few welcome additions, the gameplay itself is virtually the same as the original, which might let down those anxiously awaiting to see where the developer takes this coveted franchise next.

Like the games that came before it, Chocolatier: Decadence by Design is an economic simulation that challenges players to build up a successful confectionary company. Now set in a post-WWII economic boom, you take over the Baumeister family business from Alex, who sets off to find her missing husband after he failed to return home from the war.

You’ll start off in Zurich, but as with past games in the series, will travel all over the world in search of new recipes, buying ingredients and selling your creations to markets. These tasks usually come in the form of a quest, therefore you’ll be asked by such-and-such to buy XX amount of some ingredient from a person in some town, and you might want to haggle on the price, and then combine the ingredients to create a new product back in Zurich and then deliver to someone in another part of Zurich or the world in order to turn a profit. Characters will often make comments or ask questions related to the Baumeister family, which is a nice addition.

Selling your goods to shops that you own will always net a premium price for your chocolates. You’ll aim to, eventually, take control of major chocolate factories around the world, amass your fortune and distribute your goods around the globe. Some of the 20-odd ports you’ll travel to include Capetown, Tokyo, Toronto, Baghdad, Havana, San Francisco, the Falklands and Belize. You’ll see an Indiana Jones-style map with a little plane flying to each city.

While making chocolates almost always require cocoa beans and sugar, you’ll travel to find great deals on milk, hazelnut, lemon, mint, caramel, coconut, honey and other ingredients to bring to the factory and play the arcade-like mini-game to make your new product. The factories used to make the confections consists of rotating machines, each with a number of slots to house the ingredients. You’ll use the mouse to aim and fire the correct ingredients into each machine, such as shooting two cacao beans and one sugar to create a Dark Chocolate Bar (opposed to a Milk Chocolate Bar that consists of one cacao bean, one sugar and one milk). While it’s not too difficult – that is, until the machines start spinning faster and faster – some economic simulation fans may not want an arcade element in the same game, but I think it breaks up the game-play nicely.

Without giving much away, Chocolatier: Decadence by Design also lets you create coffee concoctions (with a different mini-game that has you fire ingredients to match three identical ones), truffles and infusions, exotic delicacies, and other products. But the real new addition to this sequel is the ability to design and name your own chocolates, and sell them into the marketplace. Players gain access to a secret test kitchen in Iceland, where they can try out experiments by mixing ingredients — such as cocoa, milk, blueberries and honey ("Marc’s Mouthfuls") — which become part of the game’s recipe book and weaved into the story. Great idea, and it works well as you aim to impress Evangeline Baumeister with a couple hundred cases of your own creation. Too bad you can’t upload your recipe to an online — but in-game — recipe book and download other player’s delights.

Chocolatier: Decadence by Design returns to its roots and proves to be a very entertaining and challenging treat, but this reviewer wishes there were a few more delicious surprises in store. Still, you’ll love this tasty simulation.

If you liked this game, try Chocolatier and Chocolatier 2.