Gameloft surprised everyone by announcing a Disney-style life simulator. The promise was promising for any fan of the universe started by this beloved Walt: live in an enchanted valley and befriend Mickey, Moana, Goofy or even Merlin. But is it really as magical as it seems?
This test was done at the beginning of Disney Dreamlight Valley Early Access for PC. The game is meant to evolve and improve over time and what we tested is, in a way, just a taste of the final game.
Dreamlight Valley is an enchanted place where the heroes of Disney movies, from all generations, coexist. But a terrible plague fell on this peaceful valley. Oblivion came to corrupt Dreamlight Valley and its inhabitants, some of whom mysteriously flew away. But luckily, the chosen one has arrived and you will be able to use his powerful magic to ward off evil, bring back the inhabitants, make them happy, restore the beauty of the valley, and in the process live a wonderful life there.
disney animal crossing
In the realm of life simulation games, it’s hard to escape comparisons to giants like The Sims or Animal Crossing. And in the case of Dreamlight Valley, it is necessarily the latter that we think of. It must be said that the basic gameplay is in all respects similar to that of the exclusive Nintendo. Indeed, you find yourself in a very pretty and colorful town that you will have to fill with new inhabitants (Minnie, Moana…). To do this, you will need in particular Accumulate different resources that you can fish, harvest, collect or extract. These hard-earned resources can be sold in particular to expand your house, decorate it, or improve your valley. We even have a replacement for Tom Nook, played here by a character perfect for the part: this miser Scrooge.
What Animal Crossing also brings to mind, of course, is the importance of customization. With plenty of furniture to buy in Scrooge’s shop (which changes daily), you have enough to build your own cozy little nest. Even better, you can mold your character and his clothes to your liking. If, of course, the character creation system isn’t as advanced as it is in The Sims 4, it is still surprisingly rich. Even more surprising is the inclusivity demonstrated by Gameloft. Pigment stains on the skin, hijab, bindi… Anyone (or almost) can create a character in their image in Dreamlight Valley and it is quite rare to point it out.
We continue with the points in common with the principle of real time: Time in the game moves at the same rate as in real life. We are then promised different routines depending on the time of day or night for the NPCs. Unfortunately, in reality things are a bit different. In general, NPCs move fairly randomly and have gotten used to staying up most of the night. More generally, the latter struggle to act cohesively with their surroundings and the weather, breaking the immersion side a bit. Otherwise, the resources to collect seem to be the same day and night. Plantings don’t stop by the clock either and can be harvested after just a few tens of minutes. This is certainly very handy to advance in the game, but makes us doubt the relevance of real time.
On the other hand, Disney Dreamlight Valley has a distinct advantage: speaks to both children and adults. Its principle makes it a perfect playground for children who will marvel at the beauty of this world and the presence of their favorite cartoon characters. On the other hand, it has a second reading and wide possibilities that will also delight adult Disney fans. For the others, you risk missing out on all the magic in the universe, which remains the main strength of the game. That was for the life simulation side. But that’s not the only thing Disney Dreamlight Valley has to offer. Hybrid, in fact it offers a whole bread adventure that we will explore in the field.
An adventure game worthy of the movies of our childhood?
We mentioned it above: the world of Dreamlight Valley is corrupted by a demonic force called Oblivion. To find out what is causing it, the game offers you all a series of story missions to follow, especially with your guide, dear Merlin. Your goal will be to not only bring back all the inhabitants of Dreamlight Valley, but also drive Oblivion away to access new areas and thus restore the valley’s past greatness. To do this, you will need to collect Dreamlight. This somewhat special currency is obtained by validating achievements and daily missions. The system is well done and the feeling of reward allows you to move forward without getting frustrated.
Once the necessary amount has been collected, you can unlock a new area to restore and explore (from the beach to the mountain, passing through the swamp). Over time, the world of Dreamlight Valley expands and becomes more and more fun to explore. Each biome is, of course, different and full of new resources to mine, as well as memories and the like. collectibles. The only negative point to note: the movements that are a bit long when you have to move between two distant zones that do not have fast travel yet.
Now back to the missions. There are, therefore, those related to history, but also others focused on each of the NPCs. Each inhabitant of Dreamlight Valley has their own problems. Mickey is desperate to find Minnie, for example, while Rémi wants to run her restaurant. So we end up with many coherent quests that give the game more depth and interest, while increasing its lifespan (although more or less infinite like all games of the genre). Unfortunately, too often they boil down to cooking a dish, crafting an item, or going back and forth between characters. you would have understood Over time it gets a bit repetitive. Thankfully, it’s nice to be wrapped up in the intrigues of the characters we all love, and that cuts down on the nasty side a bit.
Succeeding in these missions will allow you to level up, but also develop the different characters. In Dreamlight Valley, the relationships you have with your neighbors are important. They allow you to unlock new items and new quests, but also make your resource gathering easier by doing it with the partner of your choice. Between quests, rides, gifts, and daily chats, there are plenty of ways to quickly improve your relationship with Mickey and his cronies. In addition, you have the possibility to venture into other worlds (Rémy’s kitchen, Moana’s island, etc.) and take home the characters you find there. Three in number for now, should be more and more over time. This perspective provides a good reason to dive back into the game on a regular basis. But that still needs to go beyond its many flaws.
Work in progress
As we said, Disney Dreamlight Valley has just launched in early access as we write these lines. And unfortunately that feels too good. If on PC the game is fluid, quite beautiful and offers very little loading time, technically there is still work to be done. Bugs are too present in the game, even forcing the player to relaunch Disney Dreamlight Valley sometimes multiple times a day. There is enough to lose patience in this level, but not only.
Collecting some resources can be particularly tedious. So sometimes you can string together a dozen quests without a problem, and then be stuck for a whole day because you’re missing an impossible-to-find resource. Especially since the bubble system for fishing, for example, can be a misleading clue. We feel the game needs to be refined at this level so as not to be frustrating and turn off some players. The kitchen, ubiquitous in the game, would also benefit from being fleshed out with a bit of gameplay.like Kingdom Hearts 3, so as not to fall into the “redundant and mechanical task” box.
The game will be free at launch. On the other hand, early access is paid. As it stands, it’s hard to say what place the financial aspect will take when the game launches. A season system is already in place that allows you to get rewards (skins, furniture…) with the possibility of opting for a premium pass. . At the moment, you don’t need to pay real money to validate it as you have enough in-game currency, but we suspect this will change when the game goes free-to-play.
More generally, the title suffers from a few shortcomings here and there, especially in the sound environment. If reworked versions of Disney music are a real joy to listen to at first, they are few in number and therefore quickly become boring. The same problem for the official French dubbing which unfortunately is limited to a few phrases or onomatopoeia repeated in a loop, sometimes completely out of step with what is actually said. Overall, the soundscape is too uneven, going from sublime moments to a deafening acoustic void. In short, there are very good ideas but not yet sufficiently exploited. An observation that unfortunately we find in other aspects, from the photo to the energy management through the dialogues…
- The enchanted atmosphere of Disney
- Lots of consistent activities and quests…
- Broad and inclusive customization
- nice to come back
- Good progression system.
- mistakes, too many mistakes
- … but too repetitive
- Ambient sound is too uneven
- real time unused
- A sometimes too frustrating collection of resources
Disney Dreamlight Valley has a hybrid concept that works well. Combine that with the wonderful world of Disney and you have two very good reasons to immerse yourself in it every day. But the Gameloft title is still under construction and that has something that spoils the experience (bugs, risky optimization, repetitiveness, etc.). The basics are good and promising, but Disney Dreamlight Valley still has some work to do to find a place alongside the best. On the other hand, it has the potential and therefore its evolution must be followed.
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