I will admit it – I am a Disney fan. However, Disney and I have kind of had a difficult relationship as of late; I know I can’t be the only one who may be rolling their eyes at some of the decisions the company has made recently regarding its properties. When I saw the announcement for Disney’s Dreamlight Valley, however, something inside me perked up. Yes, the trailer is cheesy. Yes, it does sound like they borrowed some ideas from its sister series Kingdom Hearts, especially when you hear the terms The Forgetting and Nightthorns being tossed around. I couldn’t help but be charmed with nostalgia when I saw familiar faces together, just like in Kingdom Hearts, but…different. It was something you would see out of perhaps an entry of Animal Crossing, but with Disney characters! How could I say no to getting a chance to try it? So try it I did, as soon as it was released…and I have failed to put it down ever since.
Dreamlight Valley is still in Early Access, meaning there are still many updates to be made and bugs to be fixed. For an Early Access title, though, it is quite polished and there is a lot to do and enjoy thus far into its release. Its first expansion, Scar’s Kingdom, was released in October, and another expansion featuring Toy Story and its characters has released as well. From what I can tell and hope so far, Disney is committed to giving long-time fans a world to enjoy unlike anything seen before from them.
Touted as a mix between a life-sim and an adventure game, Dreamlight Valley promises players many quests to complete, characters to befriend, biomes to explore, and other activities to enjoy. As the player character, you can cook meals for energy or to share with your Disney/Pixar friends, build your dream Disney palace, feed critters and adopt them as pets, garden, mine, fish, and much more! Playing it really does feel like a good hybrid between Kingdom Hearts and Animal Crossing, which will leave players busy as they complete quests and unlock new items, while also gradually uncovering more of the lore, and why The Forgetting occurred in the first place.
What I’ve enjoyed the most from playing Dreamlight Valley is learning to slow down and take my time playing the game as it is. There is no rush or boss level you’re pressured to defeat; you’re just encouraged to explore, befriend and help characters, uncover new recipes, and build a home away from home in the valley. Parents will be pleased to know that there is nothing objectionable in the game and can be considered family-friendly; they may, in fact, enjoy it more than their children if they are also Disney fans.
I loved interacting with the various Disney characters introduced in the game thus far, and there are a lot! Mickey and the gang only scratch the surface; there’s also Merlin the Wizard as the one who guides you on your journey; Mother Gothel from Tangled; Ariel, Eric, and Ursula from The Little Mermaid; Wall-E and Remy from their respective Pixar animated films; Moana and Maui from Moana; Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff from Frozen; and now Scar from The Lion King. There are signs this colorful cast of characters is due to expand soon, which I am more than looking forward to. Each of these characters are possible to interact and converse with, and it’s been wonderful to see how faithful they are to their animated film counterparts, from their mannerisms to their vocal performances. What’s delightful for a longtime Disney fan is that they were able to retain most of the actors who have played these characters for quite some time now, barring one or two exceptions.
There are a few bugs that players may come across that may hamper their gameplay, but I admittedly haven’t come across too many of them, at least not any that come to mind that have taken me away from playing. I love what Disney is going for with Dreamlight Valley, and if its growing gameplay community is any indication, this game will have life within it for quite a number of years. This Early Access bodes well for its full release in the future, but if you’re impatient like I was, there’s no harm in diving in and starting your own adventure in Dreamlight Valley today.