It’s basically the love child of Disneyland and Animal Crossing
Cozy farming and community simulators are some of my all-time favorite game genres. At the best of times they’re a fun, relaxing world I can get lost in, and at the worst of times, they feel like a lifeline that’s keeping me from spiraling out. First it was Stardew Valley, then it was Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and now Disney’s Dreamlight Valley has taken over my gaming time. It’s got everything you could ever want: adorable critters you can pet, delicious foods that’ll have your mouth watering (I’m looking at you, Peanut Butter Waffle), and of course, all of your neighbors are beloved Disney characters.
With a whole flood of farming sims taking over in the past few years, we’ve seen a lot of different takes on the tried-and-true farming, fishing, foraging, cooking, and mining mechanics. Purely from a game design standpoint, Dreamlight Valley has to be one of the best representations of the genre I’ve seen in a good while. There are tons of little quality-of-life features that you may not notice if you’re not looking for them, but over the course of a playthrough, they really start to add up.
It’s the little things
For example, the map shows exactly where every character is at all times. It’s a really simple thing, but being able to know where someone is when I need them for a quest makes a world of difference when you’d otherwise be wasting time checking a wiki or running around the map trying to find them. My absolute favorite feature, though, is that with the exception of a few key tasks tied to main questlines, you can access everything in you have in storage, as well as your inventory, while crafting items or recipes. This is huge for someone like me — my chest organization is basically non existent, and trying to juggle what I need to bring with me to complete objectives usually brings on a headache. Thank you Gameloft, because that sole mechanic made Dreamlight Valley one of my favorite cozy games on principle.
While the developers clearly some really smart decisions during Dreamlight Valley‘s design process, the game’s premise alone is enough to get players to buy in. In today’s world of Disney adults, who doesn’t want Mickey and co. as their next door neighbors? I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that for me, Disney properties are comforting because they’re always upbeat and light-hearted. Those are usually the characteristics you’re looking for if you like farming/community sims anyway, so it was basically a match made in heaven.
Dreamlight Valley clearly saw a surge in players once it was released in early access and it dominated the news cycle for a bit due to how loveable it is, but it has since quietly stepped to the background. The thing about this genre, though, is that they have a tendency to draw cult followings that stay loyal for a very long period of time. For instance, Stardew has a thriving modding community, and players spent thousands of hours in New Horizons decking out their islands to their exact specifications. I think Dreamlight Valley will have a similar staying power for the exact reason it caught our eye in the first place: the properties. It’s a game worth playing in and of itself, but Gameloft has yet to scratch the surface of the company’s most beloved characters.
The well goes deep
As of now, the game features characters and items from a total of ten different films, not including the classic characters who are filed under “Mickey & Friends”:
- The Sword in the Stone
- Lilo & Stich
- The Lion King
- The Little Mermaid
- Toy Story
There are plenty of other movies referenced in different clothing and furniture you can purchase as well, like Monsters Inc., Wreck-It Ralph, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast. Scar from The Lion King and Buzz and Woody from Toy Story were added after the game’s early access launch as expansions, so it’s clear Gameloft will be releasing content featuring more and more of Disney’s most famous films as time goes on.
On top of that, most of ten movies that are highlighted in the game right now only feature one character from their respective film, so there’s tons of potential in introducing more of those personalities as well. (At least, that’s what I’m holding out for because Tangled is my absolute favorite — so far we have Mother Gothel, but no Rapunzel or Eugene yet). One of the Memories you collect in the game shows the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, Eve from Wall-E, and Vanellope from Wreck-It Ralph hanging out in front of Remy’s restaurant, and if that’s not proof, I don’t know what is.
Disney’s not-so-secret weapons
With even more potential storylines from Disney/Pixar favorites like Aladdin, Peter Pan, Mulan, The Princess & the Frog, The Incredibles, and Finding Nemo, just to name a few, Gameloft should have enough content for the rest of the decade. If, however, for some undecipherable reason, new updates with the mainline Disney properties aren’t enough to pull players back in, they could always break out the big guns: Star Wars and Marvel.
This seems to be the exact same strategy they employed for Magic Kingdom and California Adventure by adding Galaxy’s Edge and the Marvel Campus respectively, which may have been met with mixed results, but if you ask me, they’ve still done a lot of leg work when it comes to the parks’ branding. Pulling from those properties would open up their own Alice in Wonderland-esque rabbit holes, and while I doubt the developers plan to draw on them any time soon, I imagine it’s a nice comfort knowing they’re there.
Maybe all of this is wishful thinking born from my own love of Disney’s Dreamlight Valley, but then I remember the company didn’t become as successful as they are by chance. As long as the powers that be continue to care about the game, they’re going to do everything they can to keep players happy and engaged, which is easy when players love the gimmick so much — myself included. All they have to do is keep it coming. They have gold with the solid game design and properties to pull from, and now I’m just hoping they’ll keep spinning it into thread for the sake of our happily ever afters.
[Featured Image via Gameloft]