Step into Disney Dreamlight Valley: picture a world full of colors, characters straight out of your favorite childhood stories and movies, and a touch of Disney magic. Now, imagine stepping into this enchanting realm, not as a die-hard “Disney adult,” but as someone who simply loves a good adventure. That’s kind of the gist of this life sim adventure game developed by Gameloft Montreal, fully released on the 5th of December 2023.
Now, to be honest, I’m not the kind of person who has a Mickey Mouse-themed kitchen or an annual pass to every Disney park, but I did grow up watching Donald Duck and the rest of the gang so I’m not entirely unbiased here. Truthfully speaking, the only reason I’ve played it is due to it being free through Xbox Game Pass. And here we are, a few months later, and I’m postponing my bedtime to harvest a few more crops.
The game’s a bit of a mixed bag—some parts really stand out, while others could use some work. To get the full picture, scroll down and tag along on this journey through Disney Dreamlight Valley.
Disney Dreamlight Valley Main Story and Character Review
Once upon a time, you fell asleep in your home and woke up in a magical land surrounded by thorns and darkness. Out of nowhere, you encounter the mighty Merlin, who unfolds the tale of the Valley—a place once filled with friendship and happy villagers. He explains how the Valley’s ruler vanished one day, leading to the appearance of Night Thorns. As a result, the villagers lost their memories and fled in search of safety. It seems this event was caused by some strange anomaly called The Forgetting, and it’s your job to help restore the Valley to its former glory and bring back its inhabitants.
Sounds familiar, right? Well, the whole game is banking on that – a mix of nostalgia and new adventures. Your journey through the Valley unfolds through encounters with beloved Disney and Pixar characters, from Goofy to Simba, Nala and even Elsa. The development team poured considerable effort into crafting the protagonists, managing to squeeze 30 of them in the original title, and a few more in the newest Expansion Pass – A Rift in Time.
Is Disney Dreamlight Valley Worth Buying?
In my opinion, it’s not only worth it, but it’s also a great example on price to content ratio. Disney Dreamlight Valley is filled with quests, building relationships and nurturing friendships to help you on your path. If you choose to steamroll over the main story, it will take you about 25 hours. But, that’s not really the point, and I would suggest to take it easy. If you do so, it will probably be closer to 40 hours to go through the main quest.
The whole idea is to build your dream village, customize your character to your desires, furnish your cottage or even turn it into a castle and build meaningful connections with the inhabitants.
And the game provides you with all the tools to do so, from many many MANY options to craft your furniture and decorations to adding skills to NPC’s so you can perform tasks, like mining, together. There are 8 biomes to explore, 25 houses to visit or build, so there is plenty to do.
The tasks are divided into story quests and relationship quests, and you can mostly pick and choose how you want to do them. In fact, with so many side quests available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as you attempt to prioritize one over the other. But you’ll get there, don’t worry.
The downfall is the diversity of tasks/quests. After gathering Softwood for the 50th time to craft one of the many items Moana or Scar asked for, it becomes a bit repetitive. The game turns into a grind as a lot of tasks require you to spend a significant amount of time looking for materials that you really don’t know where to find unless you Google it. And 5 minutes later, you are stuck with a side quest that is almost identical to the previous one. Those who enjoy games like Animal Crossing might not mind as much, but if you’re looking for a variety of tasks, Dreamlight Valley is not that innovative.
Can You Fall in Love in Disney Dreamlight Valley?
It surprised me how many times I’ve noticed this question on various platforms, so for those still looking for an answer: no, you are unable to form romantic relationships in DDV.
Each character you come in contact with will try to form some sort of a relationship with you. Even evil ones like Ursula (although that’s mostly for her own selfish reasons). Once you interact with them, your friendship will level up, and the maximum you can reach is Level 10. Don’t stress, there is no need to force an allegiance with everyone, however, you will need to do it with certain characters for the sake of the main story.
The Gathering and Crafting System in Disney Dreamlight Valley
At its core, Disney Dreamlight Valley presents a straightforward premise: wield your Royal tools to mine resources, tend to gardens, fish, cook and gather essential supplies required to fulfill the requests of the villagers. Your tasks revolve around these activities, each contributing to the betterment of the Valley and the restoration of the memory of the inhabitants.
As I previously mentioned, the game provides ample options to tailor the area to your wishes. There are even options to craft material by using other materials, such as Dreamlight, the essential currency to free characters from their realms. Or cooking very complex meals by growing, picking (or fishing), and preparing various ingredients.
I find crafting very relaxing, and playing the game impacts my mood in such a positive way.
Inventory and Menu Juggling in Disney Dreamlight Valley
At the beginning of the game, you’ll have to sell a lot of the materials you’ve gathered to pay for the housing of your characters. Old Scrooge McDuck loves to charge you an arm and a leg for every single piece of equipment you buy in his shop. And one day, you wake up and have some extra money and a whole lot of materials in your inventory.
What do you do? Well, initially you can just upgrade your inventory, and that works fine for a while. Afterwards, you are can drop resources in front of certain venues to free up some space. In the end, most of us resorted to creating furniture and storage boxes to fix this issue. It’s not the most elegant solution as a lot of the time one of the rooms in your house will be converted into a storage room, but c’est la vie.
The whole menu is a bit messy with many sections and sub-sections. You have an inventory menu that is divided into 3 sections, and the main menu that is divided into 7 main sections, and numerous subsections. Each time I wanted to quickly check progress on a task I would have to click around a lot to reach it, often getting sidetracked.
And while I’m complaining about the lack of simplicity, here’s another complaint: the map. Although there are fast travel wells inside each biome and a whole new fast travel system on the map itself, it’s just not enough to cover the area. I know that a lot of open world RPG fans would laugh at this, but this complaint is purely due to the nature of the tasks: most of them require you to go from one spot to the other and back (and several times so) in a matter of minutes. This is a bigger issue in A Rift in Time due to the size of the Biomes. Also, the map is not visible once you step into a venue or Dreamlight Castle. Because to this, you have to step outside each time you plan to fast travel, and you are unable to see which characters are close to you. A bit of a drag that could have been avoided.
Technical Quirks: Navigating Glitches in Disney Dreamlight Valley
The animation and graphics are on point for a Disney/Pixar-inspired game. The characters are exactly like in the animated movies, which is something I adore about this title. It was a pleasure to interact with Mirabel from Encanto and Remy from Ratatouille.
I also appreciated the voice-over work provided by the original cast from the movies. However, it’s disheartening to note the limited repertoire of words and movements for each character, which significantly detracted from their depth and immersion within the game.
But the glitching… The glitching of the game is just on a different level. I’ve read that in the Early Access phase everyone complained about the glitches, and I hoped that this part would be ironed out for the full release, but no. Firstly, the frame rate drops A LOT. Going from 60 FPS to 50 and as low as even 30 FPS in a matter of minutes, only to bounce back again. Secondly, there were so many times when I would enter a room only to be stuck in the black screen of death requiring me to restart the console. Or spending 30 minutes to rearrange the village to my liking only to find out that things went back to their original state later. Frustrating.
Game name: Disney DreamLight Valley
Release Date: 5 December 2023
Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, PC & Nintendo SwitchBuy Disney Dreamlight Valley on Instant Gaming
Social Adventures and Replay Potential: Multiplayer, Co-op, and Replayability
At first, the game primarily offered a single-player adventure. With the December update, however, you unlock the Multiplayer and Co-op options, allowing you to share your village with other gamers out there. If you want to know more about this feature, check out our A Rift in Time expansion pass review.
When it comes to replayability, I honestly don’t see it happening, and that’s not a bad thing. I just don’t feel the need to rebuild the whole village from scratch when there are plenty of things to do even after finishing the main story. I can see myself playing the game for the next few months at least, and with the promise of more expansion passes, maybe even years.
Is Disney Dreamlight Valley Free to Play?
Disney Dreamlight Valley was originally marketed as a free-to-play game, but that didn’t last long. Gameloft quickly backtracked their decision and unless you have the Xbox Game Pass, you will have to pay 39.99$ for the base game, which is more than reasonable for the amount of content. However, the Rift in Time expansion pass is another 29.99$. That was disappointing because if each expansion costs as much as the base title, the game will turn into a sizable investment.
Other than that, the game is (mostly) free of additional cost. There are 3 main currencies in the game. The main one is Dreamlight, a currency used to bring back characters from the Disney castle and craft items. You can accumulate it by digging or harvesting Dream Shards around the biomes or working through a list of Dreamlight tasks. The second ones are Coins you can earn by harvesting, fishing, mining and selling your crafts, and those are used to buy materials or upgrade shops and other venues. And lastly, Moonstones. Now, you can earn a certain amount of Moonstones by opening blue chests scattered around the area, doing Star Path tasks, or, you can purchase them in-game. They are used to add additional quests or cosmetic items and are not essential to the main story.
As someone who is not that big on Disney, I couldn’t find many items in the shop worth the money. That might explain why the studio went with a pay-to-play approach. I just wish it was not announced like a free-to-play game, only to suddenly switch gears and go, ‘Show me the money!!’
Wrap-Up and Rating: Disney Dreamlight Valley Review
FinalBoss Verdict: Disney Dreamlight Valley
To be honest, I love the game. Yes, it drove me mad at certain times with all the glitches and grinding, but the game offers so much it’s hard not to get into the whole Disney magic. You can spend hours trying out recipes with Remy or fishing with Donald Duck and the time just flies by.
All ranting aside, the game delivers a heartwarming message about friendship, growing up and forgetting the little joys of childhood. And I’m all for that, especially for the younger generations playing the game.
This rating is not higher due to technical issues and the absence of certain elements that could easily improve the game. Other than that, you can find me in front of the screen playing Disney Dreamlight Valley for the foreseeable future.