Disney Illusion Island Review – A Family-Friendly Mouse-Troidvania

Disney Illusion Island Review

Disney places family entertainment at the forefront of the company. Whether it’s a trip to the cinema to see its latest blockbuster or a holiday to ‘The Happiest Place On Earth,’ Walt and co. aim to bring people together. This ethos is at the heart of Disney Illusion Island. With its accessible gameplay, charming aesthetics and focus on couch co-op, could this mouse-troidvania be the perfect family game?

You receive an invitation to the island of Monoth to partake in a delicious picnic. When you arrive, you soon learn that the promise of a tasty snack was merely a ruse to get the iconic characters to help the inhabitants. It was Toku, leader of the Hokuns, who came up with the plan as the tribe was in desperate need of support. The Tomes of Knowledge, sacred artifacts in the community, have been taken. You must now use your skill and platforming prowess to track them down and restore order. Although it’s a simple narrative that perfectly sets up the adventure, the delivery is what truly shines. 

Bursting with Character

Featuring original voice actors, character interactions are superb and will keep you smiling throughout each cutscene. Like Dlala’s previous effort, Battletoads, they capture the essence of the source material to deliver an authentic experience. Influences from the beloved Mickey Mouse shorts and Cartoon Network classics are evident. Not only does the mascot sport his 1930s design but he’s also cheekier than modern iterations which balances Goofy’s daft demeanour, Donald’s frustrations, and Minnie’s loveable nature.

You can choose any of the fantastic four for your escapade. While each character has the same features and build, a dollop of personality is slapped on top to make them feel distinct. Goofy has a lethargic aura and a food-themed design to his abilities. For example, to swing over gaps, he’ll use linking sausages whereas others have something else that connects to their identity. Also, like platformers of old, Disney Illusion Island includes exaggerated idle and edge animations which adds more flavor to each cast member. The animation is flawless and this is due to the nuances that imbue the characters which make it feel like a living cartoon.

Monoth is a large, interconnected world full of collectibles. Biomes are unique with new enemy types and different challenges which help to make them feel individual. This is further established via the art direction. The color palette differs which gives you a nice visual cue of your whereabouts. With no load screens, you can venture through the entirety of the environment, when you have unlocked all your abilities. As with other games in the genre, you will come across areas you can not explore until later in the adventure. Due to this, you will revisit areas when you learn new skills and can do so with ease when you unlock the fast travel ability.

A Game For Everyone

Jumping, swinging and gliding feel great. With no combat, your focus remains on the avoidance of enemies, platforming, and odd puzzle sections. As the game has been designed with co-op in mind, Dlala includes several options that make it accessible. You can challenge yourself with only one heart or take it easy with the invincible option. Although the game never really gets too difficult, it’s refreshing to be able to personalize your own experience. This allows all those playing to have their own settings which means players young and old can get involved. Specific co-op mechanics build on the notion of teamwork. If someone is stuck you can drop some rope for them to climb and if they’re in dire need of health, a hug will give them a bonus heart. These small additions make Disney Illusion Island a welcoming experience where all the family can get involved.

Buried in the world is a range of collectibles that encourage you to explore every nook and cranny. Glimts are the most common item to gather. These blue crystals will have you bounce off the wall and place yourself in precarious positions to attain them all. Upon the retrieval of a certain number, you will gradually unlock parts of an image and gain an extra heart. Dotted around are pieces of memorabilia that celebrate the rich history of Mickey and friends, and Tokuns that give extra information about the world and its inhabitants. Concealed in the fabric of the environment are the iconic three circles. You can take a lovely snap of these Hidden Mickeys which gives another reason to scour each zone. Everything is tracked per area which makes it easier for completionists to jump to a region to collect everything available.

The Spirit of Disney

Objectives tend to follow the same pattern of collecting keys to progress through to the next area. While there are other missions too, this reoccurring theme can get tiresome. Luckily, the tight platforming, interesting level design, and fascinating presentation will make you quickly overlook this. The hand-drawn visuals are remarkable, but what really impressed me was the score. The spirit of Disney permeates the music to whisk you into the magical world that you know and love. Each aspect of the audio captures a whimsy synonymous with the company which helps to make this feel even more like you’re playing an episode from Mickey’s latest series.

Disney Illusion Island is the perfect family platformer. With inclusivity at the center of its design, you can select a suitable difficulty option that allows everyone to engage and more importantly, enjoy the game. Love and admiration for the history of Mickey are apparent. References to classic cartoons and previous video games are noticeable as you venture through a new world. At first, I was taken aback by the lack of combat and familiar gameplay loops, however, the slick platforming and delightful design shine through to make this a wonderful and memorable adventure.

*** A Nintendo Switch review code was provided by the publisher ***

The Good

  • Accessible Gameplay
  • Incredible Score
  • Slick Animation

The Bad

  • Some Repetitive Missions
  • Platforming Experts May Find It Too Easy
  • Follows Genre Tropes