Thanks to the success of Stardew Valley and its ilk, you can barely move for video games insistently attempting to thrust you into some idyllic digital corner for a bout of wholesome pal-making or enthusiastic vegetable palpating these days, and now it's Disney's turn to get in on the action with its newly announced free-to-play village life sim Dreamlight Valley.
The set-up for Dreamlight Valley goes that, once upon a time, a bunch of Disney and Pixar characters all lived happily together in the idyllic land of the title - until, that is, a cataclysmic event known as the Forgetting stole everyone's memories. It's up to players, then, to explore and restore the kingdom (and its inhabitants' memories too), in an adventure that combines life-sim-style action with more traditional questing.
As Dreamlight Valley unfolds, players will be able to travel to exotic biomes beyond the village and befriend classic Disney and Pixar characters - each with their own story arcs, quests, and rewards - including the likes of Elsa and Anna in a snowy, Frozen-inspired kingdom, Ariel in a tropical corner of the world, and even the Lion King crew across a sunny savanna.
Dreamlight Valley's life-sim elements, meanwhile, include familiar staples such as gardening and cooking (with activity appropriate Disney characters lending their expertise), and players will also be able to fully customise their village - choosing its buildings, layout, and landscape - and design their own home and clothing.
Disney is pitching Dreamlight Valley as a live-service-style game that'll evolve and expand over time, and it'll be free-to-play when it launches for Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and PC some time in 2023. As usual with these things, then, it's probably wise to keep expectations in check until we know how Disney and developer Gameloft plans to monetise the game - something we should start to get a clearer idea of when Dreamlight Valley enters early access this summer.
Those curious enough to want to get involved in Dreamlight Valley's early access period will either need to purchase a Founder’s Pack or have an Xbox Game Pass subscription. Disney says it'll be sharing more details on early access at a later date.