Disney’s Dreamlight Valley Early Access Shows Enormous Potential

If you’re like me and grew up with Disney classics such as The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, we often dreamed as kids to live amongst our favorite characters and be best friends with them. Well in Dreamlight Valley, you can. With a star studded cast of characters such as Moana, Mother Gothel and even the man himself Mickey Mouse, players can walk amongst their favorites while living out their childhood dreams.

Just to give a quick rundown of the main storyline, you play a character that wakes up and suddenly finds themselves in Dreamlight Valley, where Disney characters seem to have lost their memories of who they are because of a darkness called “The Forgetting” that has spread over the land. It’s up to you to restore their memories and bring the Valley back to its original pure state. With the help of some of your favorite Disney stars, you’re not alone in this strange world you find yourself in as you try to bring magic back to the land.

Though Dreamlight Valley is only in its early access stage, there’s still plenty of things for players to do while they wait for its full release. Whether that’s gathering materials or completing quests, it’s fairly easy to lose yourself in the game and accumulate that game time. For a game in their early access, it’s impressive how much there is to see and do. For example, if you complete certain quests for certain characters, you may have the opportunity to unlock another Disney icon to join the Valley. There’s a limited number of characters to meet for now but future updates look promising as we’ll be seeing Scar (The Lion King) and Toy Story stars sometime in the Fall. There have also been hints of other iconic characters set to be released in the future so it’ll be exciting to see who joins the cast.

What can you do?

So exactly what is there to do? Unlike other RPG’s, specifically Animal Crossing, the possibilities are endless. Apart from the main storyline, you can mine to your heart’s content. You can plant vegetables and grow a garden. Or you can fish all day long. Where Animal Crossing had a limit on some of the things you could do, Dreamlight Valley sets itself apart from the Nintendo franchise by allowing players to pour hours into any task they please without using up resources whereas Animal Crossing had gamers waiting a day for things to grow back or respawn. With Dreamlight, you can do anything and have the resources spawn in their respective locations again by the time you sell what’s in your inventory and return to their spot again which is handy for players who are trying to make quick money. The only downside to this though is that time travelling is frowned upon and isn’t encouraged with Dreamlight. Animal Crossing players are able to jump ahead to any desirable date in time and have items restock, respawn and grow back. That’s not the case with Dreamlight. Developers have stated that items in Scrooge’s shop stay the same no matter what you change the date to, and it’s unnecessary to time jump because there should be enough to do to keep players busy for hours on end.

Probably one of the biggest aspects of the game itself is the customization. We all love a good, long customization process. There’s something oddly satisfying about sitting down and creating a character that best represents how we look or imagine ourselves to look, especially to the non-binary and trans community. There are many hairstyles to choose from, skin tones, eyes, noses, body types. Just about every detail you can think of. The same goes for clothes. I myself spent a good two hours creating custom clothes for my character to wear (you unlock more motifs as you progress in the game) and I look fabulous. With over 700 clothing items in the catalog, gamers are going to be occupied with finding an outfit of the day before doing quests. But at least we’ll look amazing while doing them.

Screenshot of a photo taken in-game of myself and the legend, Mickey Mouse (and yes, that is a Vigilante hoodie I’m sporting).

What are the downsides?

Like with any early access game, you’re bound to have glitches and bugs. While Gameloft (the developer and publisher) are actively working on smoothing out the wrinkles, you may come across an issue or two while you’re playing the game. A common bug amongst Switch players is the game crashing due to an error that will force it to close and go back to the main menu. This has been patched recently and developers have mentioned that the game should crash less with the new update. Of course you have your classic glitches such as characters spawning into each other, walking into a rock or tree and rewards showing up where they shouldn’t. It’s to be expected. Nothing is perfect. But it’s comforting to see a dedicated team of developers who listen to the input their players have and implement it to the game, their “Suggestion” board on their discord being a prime example of that. They’re listening and they’re taking notes which is a good characteristic to have as a game developer. As the game rolls out as the full version, hopefully things will run a lot smoother and gamers can enjoy a near flawless experience.

“Despite some annoyances at first (Glitched items, lag, crashing), I’m really enjoying Dreamlight Valley in my free time. I can’t put it down! It’s a nice mix of relaxing gameplay, cute characters, interaction and customization. There’s still a few bugs to work out, but I’m interested to see how they take it further in the future.”

Thoughts on the game from a fellow player, also a close friend of mine

What can we expect in the future?

The sky’s the limit. With a franchise as big as Disney, they can quite literally throw anything and everything in there. Aladdin. Pirates of the Caribbean. Encanto. Treasure Planet. Anything from their most recent films to the old classics, there’s no end in sight as to what realms they could bring into the game. But for now we’re getting a Lion King update as well as a Toy Story one in the near future. Players will get to meet the nefarious Scar and hang out with the toy gang. With its endless possibilities, fans can expect some interesting and familiar faces to enter the Valley.

What’s the verdict?

Hands down, this is some of the best early access gameplay I’ve both seen and experienced for myself. With everything that you can do and see, it’s almost impossible to put down your controller without wanting to keep going and unlock what’s next. The customization, the storyline, the sheer amount of tasks and quests you can do is enough to keep anyone engaged, Disney fan or not. Dreamlight Valley has a lot of potential to be a highly successful game and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

You can try out the game for yourself in early access free on Game Pass for PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, PC as well as the Nintendo Switch (Founder’s Pack not included. As Scrooge McDuck would say. “Nothing in life is free”).

Published by Kersten Noelle

Avid fan TV/movie watcher. Gamer. All opinions are my own. Writer for fandomlair.com

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