I Might Be Too Dirty To Enjoy Disney’s Dreamlight Valley Properly

Image: Kate Gray/Gameloft

Soapbox features allow our individual contributors and contributors to give their opinions on hot topics and random things they’ve discussed. Today, Kate dives into the latest Disney game to find out what all the fuss is about…

The gaming world is crazy about Disney Dreamlight Valley, and I think I want to be a part of it.

I confess my cynicism towards this game – the latest in a line of Animal Crossing imitators – was through the roof, and I was pretty sure that Disney’s attempt at the genre would be perhaps more polished than most, but with a parade of trademarks. for which Disney is famous. Hey look! This is Elsa™ from frozen™! And her best friends, the chatty seagull™ from Mermaid™ and that real Randy Skunk™ from Bambi™! Buy things!!!!!!!!

Look, I’m not a big fan of the media approach that “every franchise we own is mixed together to make a delicious porridge to sell” as evidenced by the fact that I haven’t seen most of the Marvel movies. But I don’t want to be a curmudgeon forever just for the sake of it, so I don’t mind tasting porridge from time to time to see if I change my mind – and while I’m not a Disney mega-lover, I admit that I really like (and know a lot about) everyone animated musicals. Especially The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This movie rocks.

I’m guessing the thing about Disney is that they throw everything at you, so at least one of their properties is bound to stay. Especially since they keep buying more.

Disney Dreamlight Valley is too neat
Mickey Mouse is going to sue me for unlicensed misrepresentation of his image… Image: Kate Gray/Gameloft

So, I wasn’t going to play Disney Dreamlight Valley. Partly because it looked a little soulless in the trailers, but mostly because I was a grumpy adversary, refusing to try The Thing Everyone Else Likes.

Except… that was on Xbox Game Pass. I don’t mind playing games when I pay ten a month for the privilege of playing them for free. And yes, Dreamlight Valley was exactly how I imagined it to be – Michael Mouse and Goofy walked around the empty world, occasionally asking me for five bananas to complete a quest, plus enticing promises of new characters to unlock along the way – but, I don’t know, it was like… Great.

Disney Dreamlight Valley is too neat
Bonus: You can get cheeky with Mickey – Image: Kate Gray/Gameloft

I traveled around the world for several hours planting peppers, completing quests, and decorating my house, and then I discovered that I could decorate the city as well.

if there’s one thing i love it’s maximizing a game meant for recreation

I stayed up for a couple of hours after midnight, making myself a small walled garden, filling it with all the plants I could gather so I wouldn’t have to roam the world to find them all. I laid out small paths that wound around the city and placed benches around this place. It started to look really nice, although it was a lot of work – Dreamlight Valley’s furniture placement system is nowhere near as robust and easy to use as Animal Crossing’s, and I ran into UI bugs a few times.

It turns out that my current problem with Dreamlight Valley isn’t that it’s buggy or that it looks like a monetized game waiting to be released (remember it’s in Early Access right now and will be available for free). play in the future), or that Goofy keeps watching me sleep. It’s not even the whispered “™” at the end of every sentence that haunts the game like the ghost of Minnie Mouse (don’t ask). I can honestly ignore all of this because I’m having a good time.

No, my problem is that the game wants me to be careful.

Disney Dreamlight Valley is too neat
ak! Right angles! — Image: Kate Gray/Gameloft

You see, as soon as the Dreamlight Valley got me hooked, I started looking for something more. My Google searches started to include things like “scrooge mcduck trick, steal a fortune” and “how to marry hot deer”, which in turn led to suggestions on how to “be nice” in the game, seeped into my recommended videos and articles. And if there’s one thing I love, it’s a minimax game designed for relaxation. Hell yes.

But during the research phase, I found that games like Animal Crossing and Minecraft led to an entire generation of gamers leaning towards hard into Milton Keynesian urban planning, that is, into grids and symmetry.

Disney Dreamlight Valley is too neat
Look, mom, I’m frolicking – Image: Kate Gray/Gameloft

I recently unlocked the Forest of Valor in the game and really enjoyed it a lot. This is clearly an area where the cast of Frozen will end up hanging out, and as a result, its foliage ranges from deep green to a sparkling blue and white color palette. Raccoons run around, blueberry bushes everywhere, and a stream flows through it. Feels messy. Like, you know, the forest.

Like other areas, the Forest of Valor is full of these beautiful, tangled purple brambles that brighten up the landscape and create some pretty nice texture. Sure, they’re prickly, but who cares? Basically all the mainstream Disney characters are a bit chubby and fluffy so they can handle it. This forest was wild and untamed, like the English forests back home – and having just been at my house for the first time in three years, taking my time to explore the woods, woods and fields, and pluck freshly ripened brambles from the bushes. and after trying this explosion of free juice in my language, I was happy to see such a place in my game.

But those brambles, those glorious knots of nature, were Bad. Their name is the Nightthorns, and they are the main antagonists of the game for the first few hours, representing the sinister Oblivion that caused this magical kingdom to fall. You must get rid of them. But… I liked the ruins!

Every Forest of Valor design tutorial I could find was about taking this magical wilderness dotted with trees, rocks, brambles, and stumps and bending it to your will. Squares with trees and fountains have replaced the wild landscape. Neat, straight roads have replaced meadows fringed with rocks and shrubs to hide the somewhat unsightly edges of the paths. The Forest of Valor becomes the City District of Valor.

Disney Dreamlight Valley is too neat
You could completely hide the body here! — Image: Kate Gray/Gameloft

Look, it’s not like these players are doing things. wrong. They use the tools and mechanics available to them to create something quite beautiful, and for that reason I’m incredibly impressed (and scared). Their design is also much more convenient for navigating the area – and I honestly wish I could live in such an area in real life. But to me, creating these well-groomed cities in sandbox games is like wearing a suit and tie. I feel constrained, claustrophobic and ultimately uncomfortable. I want to be vague. I want to wear bracelets, rings and sequins. I want maximalism.

My Animal Crossing village is a carefully curated jumble of items, paths, rivers, and houses; I put a lot of effort into making it look organically cluttered and lived in. Some of my country houses are clustered right on the corner in a kind of suburban American grid, but that’s mostly because the country people don’t excite me; the villagers that I really like live in a place that I carefully structured to look unstructured, with weeds and flowers everywhere.

I want to be vague. I want to wear bracelets, rings and sequins. I want maximalism.

Just like when I build Sims at home, I use Maxis well”mess– Toothbrushes in cups, folded laundry, kettles, bread bins – things that are functionally useless and your Sims can’t even interact with them, but they make interiors look like real. You should be fine with liberal and expert use of moveobjects cheats and game build tools to make sure things are at comfortable angles and overlap with each other, but it’s worth it. My houses look as untidy as I want.

In Minecraft, a game that is literally based on a grid, it is difficult but not impossible to create a house and landscape that looks realistically overgrown and varied. Actually, Lots of modern Minecraft building guides revolve around how to make buildings more interesting by changing things like texture, size, height, and symmetry to build worlds that look cozy and quirky without resorting to boxy houses.

I have been living in big cities for the last ten years, so like many people, I dream of moving to the chaotic countryside and building a run-down stone cottage with wobbly floors. In real life, this is a stupid idea (I don’t have a car and I like being able to pop into the supermarket at 8pm if I run out of milk). But that’s the point of sandbox games – I can live my fantasy.

I can’t do it in Disney’s Dreamlight Valley. Or rather, I can’t be concerned. None of the village design walkthroughs I’ve seen really inspired me; I don’t want to fiddle with design tools and end up with a garden full of rocks that look exactly the same, or a bunch of long, straight paths at right angles. Some of the furniture is nice, but very few of them feel as cluttered as I want. And the less said about the stupid mechanics of building a path, the better. I just can’t get that crumbly charm that I want.

However, this makes sense. Dreamlight Valley is not really focused on maximalism. Actually, as I learned from Lauren Morton of PC Gamer, who is also a big fan of maximalism., Dreamlight Valley actually has a village limit of 600 items. Even items that you have space for can’t overlap with each other, or be placed next to pre-existing pieces of flora that you can’t remove until the end of the game, or be placed at an angle. I just feel like my city will end up looking the way the game wants it to: neat and square and pretty…but it’s just a little boring to me. With lots of Mickey-shaped furniture, and a whole area for dozens of chestsbecause the storage system needs a major overhaul.

Disney Dreamlight Valley is too neat
I also have a vendetta against this stone with which everyone limits the paths – Image: AJ

But at the end of the day, this is a game that’s still in Early Access and it could very well change for the better. I want it to be a little more flexible, to allow me to change the rules without breaking them, and to provide more options for those (like me) who like things to look authentic but careful, chaotic. I think there might be a way to achieve this mess in Dreamlight Valley, but it requires fighting what the game wants and I just don’t know if I have the energy to be a subversion in a game that should help me. relax.

So I guess I give up. Perhaps this is the moment I find out that the game about Disney World is about creating a city that looks like Disney World. Maybe I’m totally relying on it and learning to love the House of Mouse when I turn my own house into a Mickey sanctuary. Does the grumpy anti-capitalist part of me feel like I’m selling my soul to Disney Corp. just for a little slice of cartoon paradise? Of course. Do I have energy left to care? Absolutely not.

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