Life simulation games have always been a favorite genre of mine. From playing Harvest Moon on my Gameboy as a kid to escaping off to my own personal Animal Crossing island during the pandemic, it’s a genre that can’t be beat! The daily grind, chores, and low stakes of these games always capture my imagination and have been a comforting gaming experience. Throw Disney in the mix and I’m drifting away with familiar characters and music.
The newly released Disney Dreamlight Valley combines both of my favorite things into a near-perfect blend of nostalgia with magic, so here are my first 10 hours in the Valley.
BUILDING YOUR CHARACTER
After watching a brief intro cutscene explaining how you enter the magical world and the darkness that has overtaken the land, we pop into the character creation. You’re given a very robust list of choices. Although the face editor is lacking, I managed to make a face that didn’t look too strange after clicking around the menu for a while. While the creator itself has options, where Dreamlight shines is the sheer amount of clothes, outfits, and costumes to dress your character in any way you’d like. Some clothes are able to be layered, not gender locked, and the builder provides headscarves and hijabs for all players to feel welcome.
EXPERIENCE VIRTUAL LIFE
The gameplay is similar to other life simulators. You have your wheel of tools for cleaning up the island, finding resources, and yes, fishing. With rocks to smash, apples to pick, and things to create, during my first ten hours I found myself in a pleasant resource-gathering loop. Selling things to Goofy while Scrooge McDuck followed me around was a delight. So far I’ve had two portal runs to find new villagers, Moana and Wall-e. My house has been upgraded as much as I can currently afford and I’ve just welcomed a certain Sea Witch to our town. Also, while voiced clips from characters are limited, it’s fun to see everyone roaming around.
The standout feature for me is the soundtrack. Each movie and character’s theme song is reimagined in a quiet ambient way, making the vibe of the world relaxing and familiar. Even ten hours into rebuilding my island, I know the music will never get old. The music and the story, so far, gives me Kingdom Hearts feels, but with less sword fighting and more farming. I’m definitely looking forward to unlocking more music, tools, and areas as I build each unique home into a perfect neighborhood.
IS IT THE NEXT BIG THING?
Released September 6th on every platform, (and free on Xbox Game Pass) Disney’s Dreamlight Valley is definitely going to be the main game I play until every biome is unlocked and ‘The Forgetting’ is chased from the lands. If you are a fan of Disney movies and have an unhealthy attachment to Animal Crossing, this could be the game for you!