Review of Disney Dreamlight Valley (Switch eShop)

Review of Disney Dreamlight Valley (Switch eShop) ...

Imagine seeing Mickey Mouse pottering around in his garden while Scrooge McDuck opened his shop, and WALL-E the timid robot searching for flowers to make someone smile that day. It's what you get to experience every day in Disney Dreamlight Valley.

Dreamlight Valley might be a cynical nostalgia game, in which you construct a miniature Disney theme park village, sprinkling some superficial life-sim elements, and leaving it at that. Instead, it's a surprising character-driven experience that's primarily focused on development, with some thoughtful commentary on growing up, and a (most) relaxing loop that wants you to have as much fun as possible.

Dreamlight Valley begins with a twist on the formula Harvest Moon aided in establishing. You long to go back to the place you loved as a child, where everything was possible and the future was bright. Unlike life simulations, Dreamlight Valley integrates this concept into its narrative frameworks and creates a unique opportunity for emotional connections.

The ruler's identity isn't a secret, and the valley's inhabitants forgot their purpose in life and left their friends behind. This is a funny and surprising post about growing up in general, seeing the world through a different lens than before.

Although you aren't a Disney devotee, the sadness wafts through character interactions and quests as well. Mickey Mouse makes us tear up as he remarks about clinging to the hope that he might see again one day on our 2022 bingo card.

Your job is to bring the area and its environs back to life, rebuilding not just its shuttered shops and run-down eateries, but also the hearts of all who live there as well. That might be investing money in a Scrooge McDucks emporium, or simply stopping by to chat with Mickey every day.

Dreamlight Valley falls into the common free-to-play trap of clunking progress behind convoluted grinding. It accumulates when you do anything, from gardening to selling fish. However, you have to stop and prove yourself worthy by purchasing a special orb.

The first one will allow you to reach level five friendship with three locals, which means handing out dozens of home-cooked meals or looking for mining nodes that will hopefully give you rare gems that will boost friendship levels significantly. The reward is worthwhile, since this is the only way to get to other biomes in the valleys and, consequently, more crafting materials.

Occasionally, quest requirements get stuck in a similar rut, but the rewards for most of them, even if its just seeing how new characters interact with established residents, make it worthwhile. You may also take a break from grinding by spending Dreamlight in the valleys castle to explore realms, small areas themed around a particular character, such as WALL-E.

When you arent fishing with Goofy or visiting realms, youve got a ton of crafting and design options to get stuck into both in your own house and across the valley itself. These possibilities unfold slowly as you discover new recipes, but there's still a lot you can do with just the basics.

Its an example of Gamelofts broader vision here. Disney Dreamlight Valley clearly wants to make itself accessible and enjoyable for everyone, and goes out of its way to make things as simple as possible. Every recipe, even experimental ones that should be vile failures, produces something useful. Fishing spots can be resurrected in just a few minutes.

Dreamlight Valley is a good fit for Nintendo's hybrid console, theoretically. However, it requires a fair bit more optimization to run smoothly on the hybrid console. For both docked and handheld mode, there's a lot of menu lag, long load times, and a few moments when Dreamlight Valley just gives up and crashes.

Gameloft's non-Switch-specific issues may be resolved as time goes on. This can lead to some confusing moments when you acquire something new and don't know what it is, let alone where to find it. Ambient character dialogue, which is actually quite good, is audio only, while the quest tracker often gives vague explanations.

Early access games typically have these flaws, and as a result of a shaky future, recommending Disney Dreamlight Valley for $30 may not be without flaws, but whats here is fun.

Conclusion

Despite a few glitches in the Switch, Disney Dreamlight Valley remains warm and funny. It will need to keep updating it with fresh updates to keep the Night Thorns from creeping back in. However, what's here at launch is wonderfully moving and thoughtful, while showcasing the nostalgia of anyone who's ever been a Disney fan.

  • Strong worldbuilding
  • Extensive customization
  • Smooth and nearly seamless gameplay
  • Charming and thoughtful
  • Some frustratingly tedious quest requirements
  • Poorly optmized for the Switch
  • Could grow stale quickly without regular updates

A 7/10 rating

Gameloft has provided a copy of its Scoring PolicyReview document.