Disney Dreamlight Valley might be for those grueling over Animal Crossing’s lack of content – Early Access hands-on impressions

A world filled with Disney magic.

Image via Gameloft

In a world that forced everyone inside for an entire year, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was like a beacon of hope that gave many an escape from their humdrum lives. But the popularity of this title didn’t last extremely long, and many soon felt how lacking Animal Crossing had become. Now, there is another beacon of hope that comes in the form of Disney Dreamlight Valley, a new simulation game that allows you to take control of an avatar that you construct and live out a fantasy-driven Disney life in the land of Dreamlight Valley.

Not everything is good in this Disney Dream. The old ruler has left along with many of the old residents and the Night Thorns have grown out of control, bringing in a plague known as The Forgetting. The residents can’t seem to remember anything about their lives, and it is up to you to help them by becoming friends and finding their lost memories. Much of the game will remind you of Animal Crossing, as you hang out with residents and discover the secrets of the valley. This game may just fill the void in your heart where a sim game belongs.

Customizing the world

Screenshot by Gamepur

One of the key features of simulation games like Disney Dreamlight Valley is the ability to customize your space to fit how you are feeling. Dreamlight Valley takes this ability to the next level and allows you to customize your character, house, and the entire valley. While there may be pre-existing items scattered about the land, you can easily enter a menu, delete unwanted items, and replace them with ones that you want once you unlock them.

While you won’t have many items at the start of the game, you will quickly start accumulating them by visiting Scrooge McDuck’s store and opening chests found across the land. During my hours with the game, I quickly deleted trees, moved them around, and placed additional ones thanks to the landscaping tool.

Residents that matter

Screenshot by Gamepur

Something that upset many players about Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the lack of NPC interaction. Of course, this was fixed in an update, but the villagers were still missing something. Dreamlight Valley, on the other hand, features residents to get invested in. The Friendship Level system allows you to talk to the residents of the valley, give them gifts, and improve your relationship with each of them. You can spend time with the residents, and doing so will grant you bonuses when you go fishing or mining for gems.

As you increase your Friendship Level with a resident, they will reward you with new items, Star Coins, and more. Each resident that I encountered offered various quests that were unlocked as I grew my relationship with them. This gave me a reason to continuously interact with each of the residents. Even the shopkeepers like Scrooge McDuck and Goofy can be interacted with. Just like in other sim games, each of the characters has their own schedule throughout the day and the game follows your clock.

The dark side of Dreamlight Valley

Screenshot by Gamepur

While there are plenty of great things that make up Dreamlight Valley, there are a few downsides. From my experience, the game feels rather clunky and lags a lot. The copy that I received was on the Nintendo Switch. Since the game is available on every system including PC, I doubt that everyone experienced the same technical issues that I did. The day-one update did make the game run a little smoother, but there was still noticeable lag when entering and exiting buildings as well as when I accessed my inventory to customize my town a little more.

Despite the bugs that I experienced, I still found myself enjoying the interactions with the residents of the valley and the amount of customization that I experienced was more than what I had experienced during my time with Animal Crossing. While there are still some issues to iron out, there is no doubt in my mind that kids and Disney Adults everywhere will enjoy their time in Dreamlight Valley.