Disney Dreamlight Valley early access review: Is it worth it?

Elsa in Disney Dreamlight ValleyDisney / Gameloft

Disney Dreamlight Valley released into early access on September 6, 2022, giving fans the chance to discover a vibrant world inhabited by some of Disney’s most loved characters as they try to rid the land of The Forgetting — but is it worth paying for?

Disney Dreamlight Valley‘s map is chock full of adventure and different Realms to explore, and in them, you’ll get the chance to meet a whole host of iconic characters, from Mickey Mouse to Mother Gothel and even Anna, Kristoff, and Elsa!

That’s not all, though, as fans of titles like Animal Crossing and The Sims will be able to have their cake and eat it, too, thanks to the ability to furnish, customize and develop your town or home, while also learning about the world’s lore and befriending the many residents of the valley.

Disney Dreamlight Valley key details

  • Price: $29.99 / £23.99 (Standard Edition as listed on Steam)
  • Developer: Gameloft
  • Early Access release date: September 6, 2022
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, iOS

Disney Dreamlight Valley trailer

Disney Dreamlight Valley is a whole new world

It has to be said: I have spent SO much time playing Disney Dreamlight Valley since it released into early access. Arriving just as my corner of the world entered Fall, it’s been the perfect cozy game to load up and spend hours (upon hours) in as the nights get colder and the days draw shorter.

The premise is simple: After escaping your hectic life in the bustling city, you arrive at a familiar location from your past. Uncovering a spot where, “as a child, you found that life was simpler”, you fall asleep and wake up in a mystical location (Dreamlight Valley) that’s covered in purple thorns — known as Night Thorns — and shrouded in nightfall. What’s more, Merlin is there to greet you. Yes, that Merlin!

The player house in Disney Dreamlight Valley with Night Thorns being clearedDisney / Gameloft
Banish the Night Thorns from the valley with the power of Dreamlight.

As you navigate the story of Disney Dreamlight Valley, you’ll work to restore this fallen kingdom to its former glory, ridding the world of these Night Thorns through the magical power that is Dreamlight — did I mention that you can do magic?

Dreamlight Valley’s residents have scattered across all corners of the map and its Realms due to the Forgetting, which has caused them to, well, forget their past and those that once lived alongside them in the valley. It’s a story that, each time I play, makes me feel as if I’m in my very own version of Once Upon a Time, one of my favorite TV shows from the early 2010s which featured storybook characters that had been placed under a spell to forget who they were — and I absolutely love it.

While some characters will already be in the valley when you arrive, others like Anna, WALL-E, Moana, Remy, and Maui will require you to unlock and explore their Realms within the Dream Castle, where you’ll have to complete a series of quests in order for them to move back home.

WALL-E and their Realm in Dreamlight ValleyDisney / Gameloft
Many characters have their own Realms to venture into within the Dream Castle.

Along the way, you’ll need to unlock blocked biomes and aid the valley’s residents by completing a myriad of fetch quests to build homes, cook recipes, collect ingredients, gems, and more as you befriend them and unlock cool rewards by completing their Friendship quests. One of my favorite features here is that many of these Disney characters (with the exception of Ursula and Ariel) can become your companion, meaning that they’ll follow you around the world as you complete tasks. You can even choose which particular gathering method they’re proficient in — so if you select Mining for Anna, for example, she’ll occasionally find additional resources for you after you’ve mined a node.

Similarly to Animal Crossing, you’ll utilize four different tools (dubbed the Royal Tools) to help you complete many of these tasks — a watering can, fishing rod, shovel, and a pickaxe (there’s even a camera you can use to take selfies within the land’s residents!) These all tie into what makes Disney Dreamlight Valley so appealing: How relaxing it is, and how easy it is to load up the game and realize that four hours have flown by in no time at all.

You’re also given free rein on how you want Dreamlight Valley to look, meaning that you can place objects entirely where you like for the most part (you can even pick up and move existing locations if you so choose). What’s more, the world is chock-full of materials to collect utilizing your Royal Tools, meaning that you can nurture the world’s largest carrot garden or venture out to collect glittering gems or rare fish to sell at Goofy’s stall in exchange for the world’s currency, Star Coins.

Chez Remy, Moana, Goofy and player character in Disney Dreamlight ValleyDisney / Gameloft
Chez Remy lets the valley’s residents kick back and enjoy a home-cooked meal that you’ve whipped up for them.

Cooking time with Remy

One of my favorite activities to do in Dreamlight Valley has to be cooking. I’m not sure what it is, but whenever a game features cooking it’s one of the features I’m always most drawn to (weirdly, I despise it in real life!) and it’s second-to-none here. While cooking is available very early on in the game, things really take off when you unlock Remy’s Realm and bring him back to the Valley.

The game features plenty of recipes that can be discovered by experimenting with ingredients at a stove or unlocked through gameplay — everything from crackers to a seafood platter, ratatouille, or even a delicious souffle can be cooked. Each one has its own star rating that indicates how ‘powerful’ it is, and these can be sold, eaten by you to restore your energy (which limits how much you can do at one time before needing to eat or head home), or gifted to a villager to increase their Friendship level. At Chez Remy, the valley’s restaurant, residents will even stop by at different times, where they’ll ask you to cook them a particular meal to also raise their Friendship level.

UI screenshot showing recipes (or meals) in Dreamlight ValleyDisney / Gameloft
Remy in his realm in Disney Dreamlight Valley with a cooking stoveDisney / Gameloft
There’s plenty to cook in Dreamlight Valley.

As you explore each of the game’s biomes, you’ll uncover plenty of collectibles, from the previously mentioned gems and fish, but also fruit, flowers, Dream Shards, Night Shards, and Lost Diary pages which help you to piece together and uncover the world’s lore. It’s a collector’s dream — and if you’re a completionist, there’s so much to do that you’ll start one task and end up on a completely different one within minutes (this is exactly how each of my play sessions has turned out so far).

Home is where the heart is

If you fancy yourself an interior designer or a bit of a landscaper, Dreamlight Valley has endless amounts of furniture to collect, build, or purchase from Scrooge McDuck’s store (which rotates new items daily — so make sure to stop by frequently!). Your home can be upgraded and expanded multiple times, taking it from a one-story home to a two-story one, with the ability to increase room sizes and even add new ones if you so wish. While there are no terraforming options, I’ve never felt as if I was limited in what I can do within this mode.

A player character's house in Disney Dreamlight ValleyDisney / Gameloft
Decorate and design your player home to your heart’s content in Dreamlight Valley.

The game’s crafting bench lets you create furniture to be placed out in the valley or at home, which are unlocked through completing quests or just naturally throughout gameplay. It’s one of the elements I like most about Disney Dreamlight Valley: While there’s so much to do, nothing ever feels forced upon you and each aspect of the game continues to open up naturally as you play.

Scrooge McDuck's storeDisney / Gameloft
Scrooge McDuck’s store rotates daily in Disney Dreamlight Valley, so make sure to check in whenever you boot up the game.

Character creation is one of the parts of any game that I’m always most interested in. Having played games like Second Life and The Sims for many of my 30 years, being able to represent myself in any game is so important to me. While the options aren’t endless, I’m impressed with how much variety this game has — you can select a body type (and wear all clothing regardless of which you choose), opt for different nose, mouth, jaw, eye, brow, and body shapes, all while being able to choose from differing hairstyles and makeup options.

There’s even an option to create and customize your own clothing utilizing different decals that can be unlocked throughout gameplay, alongside different styles of clothing, from dresses to outfits, and, of course, Disney Ears headbands that allow you to express your own style pretty accurately.

Additional rewards can also be unlocked in the Star Path, the game’s equivalent of a Battle Pass, which contains its own unique rewards to unlock like decals, furniture, outfits, and even Moonstones (the Star Path’s currency).

Star Path for the Pixar Fest event rewardsDisney / Gameloft
The Star Path follows a Battle Pass-like format, where you can complete tasks in exchange for a current to claim rewards with.

It’s also worth noting that, due to the title still being in early access, there are some bugs present. On PC, while gameplay has been very smooth and most bugs I’ve experienced seem to be tied to animations (my character’s braid would float or wrap randomly when doing certain animations, or gameplay would freeze when my character would go to leave a building, meaning I’d need to force close and restart), another Dexerto staff member playing on Nintendo Switch has experience lower framerates on the console, with the inventory and menu systems taking a long time to load, alongside game crashes.

While Disney Dreamlight Valley is still in early access, the developers have already shared a look ahead at the additional content that will be arriving before 2022 is over, so make sure you check back often for our thoughts on each update’s new content.

Is Disney Dreamlight Valley worth it in 2022? The Verdict (so far)

If you’re looking for a cozy game bursting at the seams with things to do that will have you whiling away the hours, Disney Dreamlight Valley is definitely worth it: it’s shaping up to be one of my favorite games of 2022, and it’s not even out of early access yet. The ability to live alongside some of Disney’s most memorable characters, raise their Friendship level and design the world that they inhabit is truly something that I never knew I needed until it arrived.

Reviewed on PC.

If you’re on the lookout for tips and tricks to help you out in Disney Dreamlight Valley, make sure to check out our guide content below:

Does Disney Dreamlight Valley have crossplay? | How to get Clay in Disney Dreamlight Valley | Sunstone Fragment locations in Disney Dreamlight Valley | How to complete ‘What Home Feels Like’ quest | How to complete Treasure Hunt quest | How to remove mushrooms in Disney Dreamlight Valley | How to solve the Cave puzzle in Disney Dreamlight Valley | How to change your appearance in Disney Dreamlight Valley

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