You should start making preparations for Disney Dreamlight Valley to ruin your life. After countless years spent relatively disappointed by the quality of 3D life-sim adventures on home console platforms, I’ve learned to temper my expectations. Whether that’s because of convoluted control systems, finicky user interfaces, patchy performance standards, or the numerous issues that can and do arise from the porting of experiences that were primarily designed for PC. But Disney Dreamlight Valley could break the spell, and I’m already clearing my schedule in anticipation of the Disney life-sim entering Early Access on September 6.
While the build I played at Gamescom 2022 was on PC, it’s clear that Disney Dreamlight Valley has been designed to cater to players across all platforms. The visual design is bright and colorful, the interface is readable at a distance, and your avatar moves in tandem with your input – rather than jerking around as if controlled by an overly-sensitive phantom mouse. Truth be told, I can already see Disney Dreamlight Valley seamlessly slotting into my weekly routine – specifically, it’s going to replace Forza Horizon 5 in the space I allocate towards lazy Sunday afternoons.
What I find so appealing about Disney Dreamlight Valley is its rather broad focus. There are easy comparisons to be made to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Stardew Valley, and The Sims 4 – it’ll certainly appeal to fans of all three – though Disney Dreamlight Valley feels more open-ended. You can spend time planting crops, managing their growth, and harvesting the yield, but that cycle takes minutes rather than entire in-game days. Stamina is easily replenishable, your watering can is infinite, and your crops can quickly be sold to vendors for profit with little restriction. In fact, unlike the games Disney Dreamlight Valley is so easily compared to, it offers fewer restrictions on what you can and can not do in a single play-session or in-game day.
You might be wondering where the hook is then, given that Disney Dreamlight Valley is the sort of live-service platform that’s both going to grow gradually over time and demand perpetual investment of your energy to see any real gains. From what I can tell, the drive to come back time and time again will be because the Dreamlight Valley is a pretty chill place to be. As you clear a once-idyllic village of Night Thorns, travel to iconic Disney worlds to convince iconic heroes and villains to cohabitate the space, you’re given the chance to make it your own. Completing the seemingly endless sets of quests espoused by each Disney and Pixar character you come across unlocks new items and options, furthering your capacity in creative landscaping and customizable layouts.
Make this world a home
Disney Dreamlight Valley is the sort of life-sim adventure that’s designed to thrive on console. In a sense, it handles more like a traditional 3D adventure game, and it’s all the better because of it. I can’t say enough about how clean and bold the UX design is, meaning you’re rarely left struggling to complete an activity – regardless of whether you’re simply wandering around the colorful worlds, altering the outlay of the Valley itself, or treating yourself to some downtime. Honestly, I’ve always been a little creeped out by some of the legacy Disney characters (having the waking nightmare that is Mickey Mouse follow me around while I complete errands is a little disconcerting), but even I can sit for a spell and go fishing with Goofy. At least until some of my childhood favorite Pixar characters start showing up.
Disney Dreamlight Valley is about building bonds and exploring the bounds of your creativity. There’s a lot of walking around a 3D space, talking and interacting with characters, and simple button inputs to execute on the ideals of your imagination – making this not only perfect for kids of all ages, but console players too. Disney Dreamlight Valley appears to have a simplicity at its heart that intertwines nicely with the playful nature of its core ethos. Other games let you get into the weeds of micro-management, Disney Dreamlight Valley just wants to let you escape into another world for a little while.
Disney Dreamlight Valley is launching into Early Access on September 6 for Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC. It will also be available on Xbox Game Pass.