Posted on 02 July 2010.
For the past 48 hours, I’ve been binging on Chocolatier: Sweet Society by PlayFirst for Facebook. I’m already hooked, and I know that no good can come of this.
I know, it was only a couple of weeks ago where I ranted about people playing games on Facebook, but I stayed true to my word and I haven’t been flooding my friends with status updates. Had I chosen to do that, my friends would be well aware of how, in just a short amount of time, I’ve boosted myself up to a level 13, and I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty awesome at this. I generally try to avoid these kind of games for one main reason: I have an addictive personality. Whenever I begin something like this, I always have to be number one, and I have to unlock everything. Nine times out of ten, I won’t stop until I do so.
Many of you are probably already familiar with PlayFirst. They are the ones behind the popular Diner Dash series, Dream Chronicles series, and other personal favorites of mine like Wedding Dash and Sally’s Spa. Every single PlayFirst game I’ve had the pleasure of getting my hands on, I instantly loved and couldn’t put it down. If you were to thumb through my iPhone apps, you would find multiple PlayFirst titles because that’s how good they are. I will admit, I did have some reservations about Chocolatier: Sweet Society, but it was only due to the fact that it was on Facebook, and not another platform.
In Chocolatier, your main goal is to keep the chocolate flowing so your experience and prestige increase. When you hit certain levels, more recipes are unlocked, and more items are available for your Shoppe like display tables, wallpapers, flooring, and decorations. To celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, PlayFirst has rolled out some fantastic patriotic decor ranging from flooring to the table swag. I’m pretty confident that for future holidays and events, they will release other appropriately themed items.
When I began Chocolatier, I was immediately thrown in to a tutorial that led me through the chocolate making process, step by step. I found it to be quite handy because, to be honest, most games these days just assume the player will start knowing how to do it all. After creating my very first batch of ‘basic chocolate bars’, I began to focus on my Shoppe. Set in San Francisco, circa 1882, you really get that old-world feel, especially through your decor choices. Even your Shoppe patrons are dressed in the fashions of that time period, and I appreciated the attention to detail.
Graphically, the game is done very well. The colors are rich and vibrant, the lines are crisp and smooth, and everything is so aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Out of all the Facebook games I’ve played, Chocolatier: Sweet Society is easily in my top 3 in terms of appearance, and to be honest, it’s something I’d expect from a Nintendo DS title, not a free online game. Now, where Chocolatier really soars is in the music. When you are in your Factory, there is a specific, incredibly pleasant tune, and when you switch over to your Shoppe, you are greeted with a different one. Normally I mute games like this, because I find the songs too repetitive, and borderline annoying. Not with Chocolatier. As I’m writing this, I’m playing the game, and I can hear the steam pumping out of my five machines. It’s rather soothing.
The gameplay is what you’d expect from a game like this: basic, point and click, but it doesn’t get boring or monotonous. I enjoyed the simplicity because this is a game where complicated controls or sequences would ruin it. When creating a batch of chocolate, it’s fairly simple. Just click on your machine, and select which chocolate variation you wish to create. Then you go and click on your machine three more times, to properly mix ingredients and melt it all down. Finally, the most important step: waiting. Your initial recipe only calls for a 5 minute wait time, but there are chocolates I’ve created where it takes 8 hours to complete. Last night I set some to be ready in 12 hours, ensuring that in the morning I’d have product to place in my Shoppe.
The key to games like these is to plan. Plan ahead if you want to be successful. Know that you have somewhere to go? Create a chocolate that will take a couple of hours to complete. Playing before bedtime? Set a chocolate that will be done in either 8 or 12 hours. It really is that simple. When I play a game that requires real-time, I make the labor intensive items during the night, and then obsessive-compulsively binge on the other items during the day. I can’t even begin to tell you how many chocolate bars with peanuts, milk chocolate, chocolate bars with honey, and chocolate bars with lemon I made yesterday.
Chocolatier really stands out from other Facebook games due to the fact that your Shoppe and Factory are in two separate locations. There was a game I played a few months ago where you run your own cafe, but the kitchen and dining area was in the same cramped space. Needless to say I quickly gave up on that because it was too congested. Having my machines separate from my display tables is so helpful because I can focus on both independently. Another stand out feature is this enjoyable mini-game called “Factory Optimizer”. With “Factory Optimizer” you are able to boost your machines, resulting in chocolates being made faster. All you have to do is shoot ingredients onto the production machine, matching it to the recipe shown in the upper right corner. The higher your score, the better your machines will perform. Sadly, you can only play “Factory Optimizer” once a day, but it’s one of those things where something so small can make a huge difference in terms of enjoyability.
To wrap things up, I love Chocolatier: Sweet Society, and if I had to rate it on a scale from 1 to 10, I’d give it a 8.5. I can’t give it a perfect score for a few reasons: you currently can’t sell back any items (tables, flooring, etc) you are no longer using so they just sit in your inventory, I haven’t been able to find a setting permanently disabling the occasional pop-up asking if I want to share my achievements with my friends, I wish they had a feature where for every batch of a particular chocolate it would count towards mastering it and awarding you extra experience, and finally because it’s so addictive. When going to bed the other night, I was worried that I would run out of chocolates and my prestige level would drastically drop, and yesterday when our laptop crashed, making it unavailable for hours, I again became worried about my chocolates.
So there you have it. PlayFirst has, again, created something so ridiculously entrancing that I might as well sign my entire life over to them. Why? Because in the middle of managing my Shoppe and typing up this review, I installed the Chocolatier app on my iPhone. You’ll have to excuse me now because I have to go eat some chocolate, and spend the rest of my Friday building up my cocoa empire.
* Chocolatier is available for Facebook, PC/Mac, Nintendo DS, Windows Mobile, and iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad