By Jenae R / November 17th, 2022
In the last few years, I’ve been more into these casual life sim type games and I definitely wanted the chance to try out Disney Dreamlight Valley after seeing it in a Nintendo Direct. Originally, this was supposed to be a full review; unfortunately, I don’t believe I can properly judge Disney Dreamlight Valley in its early access form. Sometime in 2023, this game will become free-to-play and no longer be in early access. I imagine more things will get monetized, but I simply don’t know what exactly will be monetized and what other changes beyond that will be made. So, for the sake of being fair and not putting a score on a technically unfinished game, I’ll be discussing my first impressions instead, in the over 15 hours I spent playing.
As you may have read elsewhere already, Disney Dreamlight Valley is very much an Animal Crossing-esque game. There are all kinds of life sims out there and I wouldn’t be comparing it to Animal Crossing if it weren’t truly similar. Now, it is not a farming sim. It doesn’t have anymore than the basic farming you have in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. There isn’t the depth you would find in a true farming sim. What DDV does have, is a valley/town full of characters for you to to get to know and befriend, plus a house for you to decorate and hang out in; as well as eventually gradually upgrade. You also have your own resident money bags looking to profit off of you, aka Scrooge McDuck. Scrooge runs the local shop where you can buy various decorations and outfits. He’s also who you pay to fix up and upgrade stuff around the valley, such as your house, Goofy’s shop stalls and certain houses for various other characters you unlock and bring to Dreamlight Valley.
The story of Disney Dreamlight Valley revolves around these Night Thorns that took over the valley, caused characters to lose their memories and displaced many of them. The main goal of the game is to clear these out, meet and bring characters back to the valley and find out how everything took a turn for the worse and became like this. It used to be a happy place where Disney characters lived and had fun with each other. There are many things you can do to continue the story and improve the Valley. First of all, you’ll sometimes get story quests from the characters still living in Dreamlight Valley to move things along. You’ll also want to regularly get rid of Night Thorns, as well as collect Dreamlight. Dreamlight can unlock new areas blocked off by Night Thorns, in addition to unlocking realms with more Disney characters for you to invite to live in the Valley. You can get Dreamlight by completing “Duties” regularly, which simply involves little goals and tasks. For example, removing so many Night Thorns, making so many food dishes of a certain quality, catching so many fish, etc.
While we’re on the topic of Dreamlight, let’s discuss the other currencies in this game. You have Dreamlight, Star Coins, Moonstones and Tokens. I just went over what Dreamlight does. Star Coins are the free in-game currency you earn from selling fish, food dishes, crops and whatever else you have to sell, at one of Goofy’s stalls. Moonstones are the cash currency you can use on Star Path events to unlock various decorations, clothes and other items. The Star Path theme and items will periodically change while the game is active and Gameloft continues to support it. Some items you can unlock with Moonstones and some items you can complete special event Duties to get Tokens to earn them. Now in early access when I played, you could only get about 10 Moonstones a day in a chest somewhere in the valley. Also, the grind to earn Dreamlight and Star Coins could be very slow at times. Because currently you can’t buy Moonstones, all of mine came from the base founder’s pack and a letter or two in my in-game mailbox. I don’t know which currencies Gameloft will still make you earn and which, if any, they’ll let you buy more of. This is why I didn’t want to make this a full review and throw a score on it. I specifically wanted to judge Disney Dreamlight Valley as a free-to-play game and how fun it is without spending any money. I wanted anyone reading to know what they were getting into with this future free-to-play.
The various clothing and decorations you can buy with Star Coins at Scrooge’s store can sometimes be very expensive. Fortunately, you can get a lot of random clothes and decorations from chests around the area. Random chests seem to spawn every day, which a lot of times contain either random clothing “grab bags” or furniture bags. Also, there are some bags that give you a random design/print you can put on custom clothing you create and decorate yourself. I got a lot of great clothes and furniture out of these bags, some of which, as far as I can tell, are sold in Scrooge’s shop and sometimes pretty expensive to get normally. I appreciated that at the very least I was able to get a lot of cool clothes through freely playing the game.
Disney Dreamlight Valley is actually a pretty fun and decent quality free-to-play title. After you get through the very beginning it can be relatively slow and grindy though. Nonetheless, as a game you either play for just a little bit every day or a few times a week, or however much you want to play, it isn’t half bad. You can customize your character, raise your friendship with various Disney characters to unlock new items and quests, raise your own level and unlock items, cook dishes, farm, craft, fish and have fun in a land full of Disney magic. Keep in mind, though, this is a future free-to-play title. The quality isn’t comparable to that of a paid game like Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The graphics aren’t perfect: long gown dresses and other similarly loose clothing, in particular, are extremely thin and flimsy looking. Not only that, but there were also various glitches I ran into, such as the music getting super choppy and bad in areas with too much going on.
Overall, as a whole, I had a good amount of fun with Disney Dreamlight Valley. I do think it’s one of the better free-to-play options out there. Well it’s still in the paid early access phase at the moment. Regardless, I had a lot of fun hanging out in the Valley and if you’re a Disney fanatic, this is a wonderful game so far to spend a little time on somewhat regularly. If you’re not into the free-to-play model, or you don’t like Disney, or perhaps life sims just aren’t your thing, then I wouldn’t pick this one up. I enjoyed myself for the most part and hope to see the game improve in the future. Hopefully Gameloft doesn’t go too crazy with the monetization and things stay fun.
An early access copy of the game was provided by the publisher.
Disney Dreamlight ValleyEarly AccessGameloftImpressionslife simulationnintendo switch