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Disney Illusion Island

Disney Illusion Island Impressions: Charming, colourful, and crammed with character

We've been hands-on with Dlala Studios' upcoming Disney platformer.

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Summer Game Fest's Play Days event is in full swing, and to kick things off, I had the luxury of getting to go hands-on with Dlala Studios' delightful and charming 2D platformer, Disney Illusion Island, in a cooperative session with the game's creative director, AJ Grand-Scrutton. Set to make its full debut on Nintendo Switch next month, this colourful game asks players to suit up as a collection of some of the most iconic Disney characters, these being Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy, with the intention of then exploring the island of Monoth in the hopes of finding three mystical books that can help save the world from disaster.

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The game is fundamentally built as a platformer, but it has Metroidvania elements to boot. It's not as complicated as the likes of a Metroid game and likewise it's not as demanding as the Nintendo series either since there are no combat systems baked in (you have to simply avoid enemies rather than engaging them). Instead, you are asked to use basic movement abilities such as jumping and leaping off walls to explore the seamless world, at least this is the case until you come across different abilities and moves that promise to open new exploration and platforming options. The taste of Illusion Island that I experienced didn't exactly reveal any of these new moves, but I did come across parts of the world that weren't traversable and clearly needed tools, such as what seems to be a grapple, and so forth.

Just because there are no combat moves and there are Metroidvania elements that require the player to essentially backtrack at times, doesn't mean there isn't a plethora of reasons to venture off the beaten path early on. Dlala Studios has littered the world with a whole batch of collectibles and other items that will make you want to explore every nook and cranny. Most will directly unlock memorabilia and other lore snippets that look into the wider world of Disney, but some are also directly tied to character progression. You can collect floating blue orbs throughout each unique biome to complete an artwork and earn an entire extra heart, which will allow you to withstand one more damaging interaction.

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The unique part about Disney Illusion Island is that Dlala Studios understands that Disney is for all ages, and has therefore put in place a system at the start-up menu that allows players to set the level of challenge they want to undertake. More skilled players looking for a challenge can enter the world with just one heart at their disposal, whereas younger players, or anyone looking for a more relaxed experience, can choose between two, three, or even an infinite number of hearts.

Disney Illusion Island

Talking about the start-up process, while Illusion Island does have four playable characters, their appearances and animations are the only thing that differentiate them. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy all feature the same move sets and abilities, meaning the choice of who you play is more of an aesthetic thing above anything else, although the animations are lovingly crafted and shouldn't be overlooked. However, just because there's no major gameplay factor setting the characters apart doesn't mean that Dlala Studios hasn't looked to accurately represent each of the beloved individuals. The characters are voiced by the same voice actors that have brought the animated figures to life for years, meaning you still get to hear Donald's crackly tone and Minnie's squeaky pitch.

Disney fans will spot all these design elements when it comes to the characters instantly, as they have been adapted and offered in a faithful way, however, the levels are a completely different playing field. Dlala Studios has been let off the leash, you could say, and been given the creative freedom to build their own Disney worlds in Illusion Island. There are entire biomes themed around kooky inventions made out of junk (with Grand-Scrutton mentioning Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention as a comparison point here), as well as other biomes dedicated to a whole array of themes.

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Disney Illusion IslandDisney Illusion Island

Regardless of only being shown a brief snippet of the world, it's clear that Dlala Studios has put a lot of passion and love into this game. Disney Illusion Island has a great balance of creative platforming options, vibrant levels, range in difficulty, and collectibles and progression systems that don't feel overwhelming or exhausting. It's a nod back to the older and beloved Disney platformers, and it feels exciting, fun, and accessible to play, as well as being right at home as a Nintendo Switch exclusive to boot. With plenty of different of biomes and a seamless level design that doesn't feature any loading screens after you finish character selection, Disney Illusion Island is set to be one to watch for platforming fans this summer.

For more on Disney Illusion Island, be sure to keep any eye out for our interview with Dlala's AJ Grand-Scrutton, which will soon be available on Gamereactor.

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Dlala Studios' Metroidvania is here, offering up a new platforming adventure with the Fab Four at the forefront.



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