Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Disney Dreamlight Valley

 Disney has an interesting history with video games. They used to be champs of the simultaneous movie tie-in game back with Lion King and Aladdin for the Genesis. The game they've been wanting to make for years though is The Disney Game, a game where all their highest selling franchises can come together and create a virtual Disneyland that people will flock to for years to come. Kingdom Hearts would've been that if the plot made any sort of sense. Disney Infinity was that for a minute until the cost to create the hardware became too much to handle, and now they're trying again with Disney Dreamlight Valley.

Not Animal Crossing

If you haven't really heard of Disney Dreamlight Valley specifically, you may know it by its nickname Disney Animal Crossing. The game takes place on an island where you are the leader in charge of making homes for residents and decorating, farming, fishing, mining and crafting for the inhabitants. The big differences between Dreamlight and Animal Crossing is that there's no multiplayer and instead of cute stuffed animal people your island is inhabited by Disney/Pixar characters. 

I could get into the story as to how WALL-E and Ariel are currently in the same zip code, but honestly the main story isn't the reason to play the game. The reason to play it is to befriend all your favorite Disney characters and pretend that you're hanging out with them, made easier by the game's hang out feature. Basically you ask a character if they want to hang out with you, and since none of them are ever doing anything more important than chilling out, they follow you around and you increase friendship with them by letting them watch you harvest materials. 

I know for some this gameplay loop might sound boring, but honestly I've played for over 40 hours at time of writing and it still warms my heart every time I turn a corner and see Scrooge McDuck wandering around, or go to my garden and see Merlin and Ariel having a conversation. It feels like seeing a friend at the grocery store and being able to say a quick hi. 

Early Access

Good news: At time of writing the game is $29.99. 

Bad news: At time of writing the game is in early access. 

What this means is that the game, at least on the Switch, hard crashes at least once a play session. Luckily the auto-save is extremely frequent so I've never had to redo anything more than talk to the last person I talked to. The graphics tend to be slower than I would like as well, so those people who complain about realism and FPS rates will have a hard time enjoying seeing a slightly off Goofy fishing. And of course most of the content isn't out yet, despite unreleased characters being featured IN ALL THE ADVERTISMENTS! 

Okay here's where we get down to my truly big complaint about the game: I had no idea it was early access when I bought it. The Switch listing doesn't say anything about it, the advertisements make it feel like the game is in full release, and nothing in the game pops up and says "Hay, if this game seems a little empty it's because we're still building it so we'll let you know when we have to take time out of your life to load up a massive expansion to get more stuff. Thanks!" 

Final Review: 

None of the early access stuff was a deal breaker. Like I said I've put 40+ hours into it and had to physically tear myself away from the game to write this review for it. The game is the Disney game, the one they've been trying, and are technically still trying, to make. What we have so far is a great proven concept that, with a little polish and a LOT more content, could be the next hot thing for those of us who need more Disney in our lives to escape the painful reality we live in now. 


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