Any adult who has ever seen Charlie and the Chocolate factory in their youth is likely to have wanted to be Willy Wonka, or at least the good-natured Charlie that gets a tour of and eventually the deed to the chocolate factory. Since this kind of dream is really out of reach for all but a very small percentage of the population, the next best thing is to get your hands on Chocolatier, a game from way back in 2007 that lets you in on the processes of production, manufacture, and sale of your own chocolate back in the late 1800s. Being such a successful concept, Chocolatier went on to become a fully-fledged series with two sequels but it is this original game that warrants exploration as the beginning of quite a successful and one of the very few Chocolatier games out there.
Release Date: 14/06/2007
Available on: Windows Vista Games, Windows 7 Games, Windows Games, PC Games, Downloadable PC Games
Play the Game
The game is described as being of the 'casual strategy' genre, and this is a reasonably accurate description. Choosing between either story mode or free-play mode, your task in both is to grow your chocolate-based business from the ground up. Free-play mode issues you with a certain quantity of cash at the outset and a range of chocolate recipes for you to try and manufacture/distribute. Story mode is where the game's true appeal lies because it involves beginning with one factory and only one basic chocolate recipe with which you must make money, purchase different ingredients, discover superior recipes, and travel the in-game world visiting cities that can yield even more discoveries and profit-making products.
The gameplay of story mode is presented in a simple, easy-to-play manner with everything controlled by the computer mouse. The gameplay is turn-based, with each turn counting as a week. Annoyingly, the only way to make time move on is to actually travel to a different city, though different locations contain various marketplaces where you can purchase ingredients that aren't found elsewhere such as cacao beans. It is through trading in the local marketplace of various cities, conversing with the residents of each city, and the making of new recipes that you will grow your empire from its roots into the successful, family-run business that it once was before it was torn apart from the inside as a result of internal disagreements.
Some of the best gameplay in Chocolatier is seen in the chocolate manufacturing process. Much like in time-management games like Papas Freezeria, the game is split into smaller mini-games that involve you directly in the various processes. Producing the chocolate, for example, involves physically mixing the ingredients yourself and requires that you follow any one of the sixty-four recipes that can be unlocked in the game's story mode. Your job in one of these mini-games is to actually fire the ingredients into the production line yourself. The level of production for the week following your foray into the process is then determined by your level of success during it; this is a brilliant and engaging way to allow you to become directly involved in the inner-workings of your factory without getting too bogged down or isolated from the overall strategy elements of the game.
The game isn't composed purely of positive points however: there are a few flaws to point out. The most annoying is that you cannot make time pass without travelling to a different city, which is a little restrictive. Secondly - and this isn't so much a fault of developers/publishers Playfirst as it is a mere restriction of the time in which the game was produced - the graphics are fairly sub-par by today's standards. For the year in which it was released however (2007 to be exact), this game's graphics are quite impressive considering the tight budget that the developers were working with.
Overall, the game is quite an impressive example of a chocolatier-centric strategy game that is fairly casual in nature. The quests that you get to undertake in story mode and the unlocking of the sixty four different recipes makes for gameplay that has longevity and plenty of content along the way. The graphics are decent for the time of release, and exploring the various cities whilst looking back through the developer's interpretation of previous centuries is quite intriguing. Chocolatier is definitely a success in terms of what it sets out to do, and that is to give you control over the purchasing of ingredients, the manufacturing of these ingredients into an end product, and the distribution/sale of your final product in order to make more money and grow your business.
Play the Game
Chocolatier is developed by Playfirst Games.