Calling all chocolate lovers and capitalists! If you've ever fantasized about what it would be like to run your own chocolate empire, look no further than Playfirst's upcoming game Chocolatier.
Fans of Tradewinds will be pleased to hear that Chocolatier has a lot in common with that swashbuckling franchise, except that instead of being a freewheeling privateer, you're a budding chocolate baron who gets to travel around the world collecting exotic ingredients, turning them into delectable treats, and then selling the chocolaty creations at local boutiques.
There's also an intriguing turn-of-the-century setting, complete with a juicy story to get to the bottom of. Basically, you've been asked to restore the glory of the tarnished Baumeister chocolate empire, which, thanks to a generation of family feuds and mismanagement, is now a shadow of its former self.
You start off in San Francisco, where you create a name and customized logo for your business. Then, Evangeline Baumeister introduces you to the art of chocolate making based on the recipes of her ancestors. You'll start with only one factory and a handful of recipes, which are all that remain of the Baumeister fortune. It's up to you to make some cash, re-open the factories, and most importantly hunt down all the lost family recipes.
Like similar tycoon-style games, Chocolatier is all about buying and selling. You'll visit exotic locations like Quito, Rio de Janeiro, London, Accra, Sydney and Hong Kong buying up the best ingredients, selling your finished wares, and chatting with people for any leads on new recipes. As you get richer, you'll be able to buy up new factories to increase your production, and upgrades the factories so that they can produce more complicated kinds of chocolates like squares, truffles and infusions.
The actual chocolate making in Chocolatier is done automatically, unlike games like Cake Mania where you're responsible for creating the food as well as selling it. Once you assign the factory to make a certain recipe, it will automatically produce a new batch of chocolates each week as long as you have enough ingredients in your inventory.
Setting the factory's efficiency (in other words, how many chocolates get produced per week) is done through a mini-game where you have to "shoot" the correct ingredients into trays that rotate around on a machine - for example, the Chocolate Bar with Cashews recipe calls for 1 sugar, 2 cacao bean and 1 cashew per bar. The goal is to correctly fill as many trays as possible in the time limit. The trays speed up as you fill them, but if you misfire too many ingredients, production will grind to a halt.
Another big part of Chocolatier is visiting the various markets, saloons and points of interest in each port and talking to the locals, many of whom might have a new recipe or two that they're willing to share for the right price, or if you're willing to do something for them in return. You can try haggling with merchants to get better prices for ingredients, which sometimes works and sometimes backfires and causes them to get angry and raise their prices even higher.
After taking an ample bite out of the preview version of Chocolatier, we felt like we had barely scratched the surface of what the game has to offer. It will certainly take you a while to hunt down all 64 recipes in story mode, and after that there's still free play mode to explore, where you start off with all recipes unlocked and $10,000 in your pocket.
The final product promises to deliver hours of fun for gamers looking to stretch their brains and indulge their virtual sweet-tooth at the same time. And the best part, of course, is that Chocolatier is completely calorie-free.