There’s something really magical about paling around with my childhood heroes — Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Goofy — in Disney Dreamlight Valley. It’s like living, for a moment, in a fairytale that I’d designed over and over in my head as a kid.
I tend to a lush garden growing pumpkins, wheat, and tomatoes with Wall-E. I fish in ponds, streams, and the ocean with Goofy and Moana. I’m swindled every day by Scrooge McDuck, then chastised by Tangled’s Mother Gothel. Most days, I also cook meals in Ratatouille star Remy’s lavish restaurant, before tossing gifts at my favorite of them all, Ariel.
Disney Dreamlight Valley rewards you for having daily conversations with each of these characters; it helps level them up so you’re able to continue on with each character’s friendship quests, which both unlock new characters and other rewards. Some of these conversations are pretty mundane — Scrooge McDuck tells you about his riches, Maui brags about his magical powers, and Frozen’s Anna ponders her favorite foods. It’s what you’d expect from a family friendly life simulation game like Disney Dreamlight Valley or Animal Crossing: New Horizons, except for one thing. You can be kind of mean to the villagers in Dreamlight Valley, and they’re pretty sassy back. You can openly run around town telling everyone you’re attracted to power and dark magic, too. It’s pretty refreshing.
Of course, I am far too much of a coward to be mean in a Disney game. It’s a character flaw, the fact that I feel guilty even in situations that would not impact reality at all. Mother Gothel is one character who throws around insults pretty frequently, under the guise of jokes — she is annoyed literally every time I talk to her or give her a gift, and I can retort, just like the whiny teenager I once was, You’re not my mother! There’s also plenty of opportunities to scoff at Maui’s powers, insult Scrooge McDuck, and tell Wall-E you’ll never understand him.
In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, we had to find new, creative ways to bully our villagers — like hitting them over the head with a bug-catching net. But in Disney Dreamlight Valley, it’s part of the fun. Thanks, Gameloft.