Disney Dreamlight Valley Review | What a Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Blast!

74
Story
7
Gameplay
8
Visuals
9
Audio
6
Value for Money
7
Price:
$ 30
Disney Dreamlight Valley is a well-presented and surprisingly complex game that starts slow but ramps up with every passing minute. Though its visuals are on par with Disney’s usual standard, its music is middling at best and its gameplay takes some time to take off. You’re gonna need to sink a good number of hours into this game before anything clicks, but the payoff is huge, especially for Disney fans. There are probably better games for the life simulator genre, but this one is serviceable enough to hold its own.

Disney Dreamlight Valley is Gameloft's latest simulation game, featuring multitudes of classic Disney characters and countless hours of magical town management. Read our review to see what it did well, what it didn't do well, and if it's worth buying.

Disney Dreamlight Valley Review Overview

Disney Dreamlight Valley Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
Checkmark Plenty of Disney Characters and References
Checkmark Stunning Character and World Design
Checkmark Customize Everything to Your Heart’s Content
Checkmark This Game is a Bit of a Time Sink
Checkmark Story Could Use More Development

Disney Dreamlight Valley Overall - 74/100

Disney Dreamlight Valley is a well-presented and surprisingly complex game that starts slow but ramps up with every passing minute. Though its visuals are on par with Disney’s usual standard, its music is middling at best and its gameplay takes some time to take off. You’re gonna need to sink a good number of hours into this game before anything clicks, but the payoff is huge, especially for Disney fans. There are probably better games for the life simulator genre, but this one is serviceable enough to hold its own.

Disney Dreamlight Valley Story - 7/10

Disney Dreamlight Valley’s story is simple. Too simple. The necessary pieces for world-building are there but they never quite click together well enough to create something more complex than a bedtime story. Events are explained with little intrigue and problems are quite literally handwaved away. The game’s simplistic story and lack of nuance aren’t deal breakers, but you’d be better off looking for your lore fix elsewhere.

Disney Dreamlight Valley Gameplay - 8/10

Disney Dreamlight Valley’s gameplay is simple, repetitive, and rather boring, especially near the beginning when your options are limited. The game takes it up a notch once you start convincing citizens of the valley to return, at which point new facilities, tools, and NPCs are unlocked. Keeping at it will net you better and better tools, buildings, friends, and even resources, but that’s not always possible. This huge but slow payoff isn’t always the most alluring, especially during an era of short attention spans. That being said, it's still a fun game that's complex enough to capture attention and casual enough to keep the lighthearted magic that Disney movies are known for.

Disney Dreamlight Valley Visuals - 9/10

Disney’s always been meticulous about the presentation of its characters in media and this game is no different. This game looks like a Disney crossover got mixed in with Animal Crossing. Every building, furniture, and resource looks like it was ripped out of a Disney movie and I’m all for it. The style does get monotonous after a while, however, and it doesn’t innovate past what Disney’s tried and tested style guide dictates. If you’re a Disney fan, I’m sure the magic will see you through to the game’s end. Otherwise, you’ll get bored of the whimsy before long.

Disney Dreamlight Valley Audio - 6/10

You’d think that a game featuring this many Disney characters would be fully voice-acted, but no. The game does have voice acting, but it’s limited to cut scenes plus a few pre-recorded blurbs that the characters say at random during dialogues. The soundtrack isn’t much better, consisting of nondescript classical strings and an obligatory cover of "When You Wish Upon a Star". It’s acceptable, if not a little substandard for a Disney game.

Disney Dreamlight Valley Value for Money - 7/10

For a $30 game, Disney Dreamlight Valley sure is packed with things to do. It’s not the most content-heavy life simulator, but you’ll get enough payoff for your efforts (and money) to be worth it. The near-infinite customizability of the valley is also a great plus.

Buying the Deluxe and Ultimate editions of the game for $40 and $70, respectively, yields additional cosmetics, furniture, and in-game currency, but that’s not worth more than double the base game’s price. You’re better off getting other simulator games for less or just getting the base game on its lonesome.

Disney Dreamlight Valley Review: What a Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Blast!

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First and foremost, I’ll address the flying elephant in the room. Yes, Disney Dreamlight Valley is similar to Stardew Valley in name and gameplay. Apart from the obvious, these two games couldn’t be any more different, as you’ll see in the coming critiques. Most blatant among said differences is the fact that, despite having fewer, simpler mechanics, Dreamlight Valley takes ages to pay off your efforts while Stardew Valley pays out sooner. I’m getting ahead of myself, however. Let’s go through Disney Dreamlight Valley bit by bit and see why this game’s a real bibbidi-bobbidi-blast!

Let’s start with the game’s most often-compared aspect, its gameplay. Dreamlight Valley’s gameplay can be described by three words: Gather, Craft, Repeat. It’s rather simple, but it’s also easy to pick up, which I imagine would bode well for the game’s target audience. You gather resources using special tools, craft said resources into furniture and quest items, and lastly, use said items to beautify the valley, fulfill friendship quests, or fuel even more gathering. It’s an effective gameplay loop, but the game’s pacing makes it a lengthy one as well. The game’s limited verticality and the wonky camera also make it more tedious than necessary, resulting in a less-than-perfect, but ultimately serviceable set of gameplay mechanics.

Diving deeper into it, Dreamlight Valley also has cooking, friendship, and farming mechanics. To go over each one briefly: cooking is as simple as adding certain ingredients into a pot, friendship is as simple as talking and gifting items to NPCs, and farming is literally just digging, watering, and harvesting in that order. Again, rather simple, but paired with the gathering and crafting, it’s actually a pretty good way to go about your goal as the titular valley’s new leader. Speaking of, let’s segue into the game’s admittedly barebones, but well-executed story.
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This is Dreamlight Valley, where friends from across stories live in harmony. Of course, that all changed when "The Forgetting" happened, and the valley was choked with Night Thorns. Citizens forgot their own lives and became lost, leaving the valley to wither. You can save Dreamlight Valley with your magical ability to dispel the Night Thorns, but first, you gotta rebuild the town. This is a solid premise to work with and could have been an okay story if Gameloft played their cards right.

Unfortunately, the actual story isn’t that complex. Despite the good setup, the stakes aren’t that high because you can go as quickly or as slowly as you wish. You can accomplish simple crafting and decorating quests with ease and are in no real danger at any given time. Resolving the aftermath of The Forgetting is as simple as coaxing people back into the valley through friendship missions. I suppose a Square Enix-esque plot isn’t necessary, but a decent setup does not a good plotline make.

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The last thing to note is the game’s audio, which usually ties a neat little knot on a game’s overall quality. That’s not the case here, however, as Dreamlight Valley’s audio is painfully average. Strings and orchestral ensembles make up the game’s soundtrack, along with an obligatory rendition of "When You Wish Upon a Star". Neither of these is particularly groundbreaking, but they will suffice. The game’s voice acting isn’t stellar either, which is rather painful for Disney fans that were expecting better performances and regularity for their favorite character’s voices.

And that’s about it for Dreamlight Valley. It’s at least decent, with clear and doable avenues for development. Only time will tell if Gameloft will pick ever up on the game’s shortcomings.

Pros of Disney Dreamlight Valley

Things Disney Dreamlight Valley Got Right
Checkmark Plenty of Disney Characters and References
Checkmark Stunning Character and World Design
Checkmark Customize Everything to Your Heart’s Content

Plenty of Disney Characters and References

I don’t know what else you were expecting from a title like Disney Dreamlight Valley. The game is practically overflowing with licensed Disney characters, with a good portion of them serving as NPCs you can befriend. Unfortunately, you can’t romance any of them a la Stardew Valley, as this isn’t that kind of game.

It’s still quite the bonanza for Disney fans, however, as your Disney friends won’t just talk to you, they’ll also assist in your quest to revitalize Dreamlight Valley by giving you bonuses for certain endeavors like mining, fishing, and cooking. This game is a must-buy if you’re looking to have tea with Elsa or Mickey Mouse any time soon.

Stunning Character and World Design

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I expected Disney to uphold the direction of its ever-reliable style guide for this game’s presentation of its characters and I wasn't disappointed. Every single character, from the iconic Mickey Mouse to the not-so-well-known Merlin, looks exactly as they did in their on-screen appearances. Even your customized player avatar looks like it could be the lead for the next Disney movie.

What more is that the world looks like it was ripped straight from Disney’s 3D era of animation, with movie-appropriate assets in each character’s respective environments. Granted, the chunky facades, smooth surfaces, and cartoony elements do make the game look eerily like Fortnite, but that’s just part of its charm.

Customize Everything to Your Heart’s Content

And I do mean everything. This game lets you build the world of your choosing by letting an entire town fall into your grand design. It’s not quite a deific level of control - it’s closer to urban planning and interior design, but it’s more than what some other games would allow you. Your house is relatively small, so you are incentivized to go out and decorate the town instead.

Painting the town red (literally) has never been this easy, as every aspect of this island is under your beck and call, from the gravel making up the pathways to the very brick lining every building's facade. Upgrade establishments for increasingly grander decorations and increased productivity. Uproot corruption and finally free Dreamlight Valley from the Blight of The Forgetting. All these and more are accomplished while wearing the dandiest threads money and friendship can buy.

Cons of Disney Dreamlight Valley

Things That Disney Dreamlight Valley Can Improve
Checkmark This Game is a Bit of a Time Sink
Checkmark Story Could Use More Development

This Game is a Bit of a Time Sink

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Better get comfortable in your chair whenever you boot this game up, 'cause you're gonna be here for a while. Simulator games are known as time sinks due to their micromanagement and customization. You really gotta get the design just right to get that high when you're playing games like these. Disney Dreamlight Valley is no different, except it's somehow even slower.

It's not even crop grow times or rare events that cause this glacial pace, it's the real-time day cycles and general lack of stakes for the game's story. You really can take your time with these friendship quests, nothing bad's gonna happen. Dreamlight Valley could be restored today or in ten years and it'd make absolutely no difference. This isn't a problem, per se, but the game's payoff reflects this abysmal pacing and you're gonna have to sink hours upon hours to get anything resembling a functioning town.

Story Could Use More Development

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It’s rather unbecoming of Disney to create a partially built story with low stakes and questionable pacing, yet here we are, slogging away at stone and dirt while the world inexplicably writhes with corrupted energy around us. This game's story is simple and not that fun. I'd go as far as saying that it's not really why people play this game in the first place.

The tragic part is that the pieces of a decent adventure are in place, they just don't click together well enough to make something more complex and nuanced than a simple bedtime story. I understand that the crossover aspect of the game limits what kind of stories could be told, but a little more development goes a long way.

Is Disney Dreamlight Valley Worth It?

It Is, But There Are Far Better Games for Less

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Disney Dreamlight Valley is worth its $30 price tag for sure, but I think there are better games you should be spending that money on. Sure, if you’re a Disney fan, then this is the farming/life simulator game for you. If you aren’t a regular at the House of Mouse, however, you’re better off finding games with a more robust gameplay loop and faster payoff than this one. Stardew Valley comes to mind, but other games like My Time at Portia, My Time at Sandrock, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons are just as viable.

Platform Price
xxx Platform IconSteam $29.99
xxx Platform IconPSN $39.99
xxx Platform IconNintendo eShop $39.99
xxx Platform IconXbox $29.99

Disney Dreamlight Valley Overview & Premise

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Disney Dreamlight Valley’s story revolves around the titular valley’s restoration in the wake of The Forgetting. Your task is to bring back Dreamlight Valley’s former glory by fixing up the town, inviting its denizens back to its fold, and allowing them to remember their lives. A spreading corruption and rampant mystery prevents you from doing so, however, and it’s up to you to purge the valley of both.

Our story begins with an ending, yours, to be exact. Will you find your peace in Dreamlight Valley?

Disney Dreamlight Valley FAQ

Is Disney Dreamlight Valley in Early Access?

Dreamlight Valley was opened to Early Access on September 06, 2022, and is set to officially release on December 05, 2023. The game is currently out of Early Access.

Is the new Disney Dreamlight Valley Expansion Free?

No. The new expansion pass for Disney Dreamlight Valley called "A Rift In Time" will not be free. The expansion pass costs $29.99 and comes with 5,000 moonstones, which is the currency the game uses to unlock rewards for the expansion pass.

Disney Dreamlight Valley Product Information

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Title DISNEY DREAMLIGHT VALLEY
Release Date December 05, 2023
Developer Gameloft
Publisher Gameloft
Supported Platforms Switch, PS5, PS4, PC, Xbox One
Genre Adventure, Simulation
Number of Players 1
ESRB Rating E (Everyone)
Official Website Disney Dreamlight Valley Website
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