Disney's Illusion Island caught a lot of people off guard when its first trailer came out months ago. Its Metroidvania gameplay was surprising because the genre is normally filled with dark, gory, violent, and oft bleak, landscapes. This was none of that. Instead, it looked like a bright, colorful romp through strange worlds with strange creatures.
Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy find themselves on an island after receiving an invitation to a picnic from each other. Upon meeting up, they find that none of them ever sent an invite, instead, they were lured here because the strange creatures of their island heard of the gang's heroic exploits and wanted to recruit them to help.
After being told that they had books that helped their village flourish that were stolen, Mickey and the gang immediately agree and thus your adventure begins.
Disney's Illusion Island parent guide: Is the game appropriate for kids?
Below we break down the major features of the game and explain whether or not it's appropriate for children to play.
Disney's Illusion Island violence
This is a game starring Mickey Mouse and friends so right out the gate you're going to know it's not going to be a hellish encounter unless your kids happen to play Mickey's dialogue at full volume.
The game goes a little further than I thought, though, to avoid violence. In previous Mickey-lead games, you were jumping on enemies, flinging spells at them, and destroying most enemies you came across. But Illusion Island forgoes violence altogether. Regular enemies are dodged and hopped over, and bosses wear themselves out until they're able to be captured in stone.
Disney's Illusion Island creepiness
The game is heavily sugary-sweet when it comes to design and approach. Magic words and plot devices are usually accompanied by silly, one-off, jokes. Nothing all that serious tends to happen to create stress or worry.
Though, some of the enemy designs mixed with how incredibly far out the camera tends to zoom adds mystery to these nameless creates that can make them seem creepy. This includes odd land sharks, rolling spiked balls that occasionally stop to chirp out of their strange beaks, and slugs that when approached grow and generate electricity. The vagueness of not knowing what they were would often lead my kids to be worried about what they MIGHT be. But outside of hypotheticals, the game is fairly saccharine.
Disney's Illusion Island diversity
There aren't any human characters in Disney's Illusion Island so diversity is a hard thing to come across. Though I will say that it's nice that there are so many different tribes of creatures that exist at different levels of societal evolution without one taking control or guiding the other.
The one relationship shown in the game, however, is the one between Mickey and Minnie and they do tend to kiss sometimes. This isn't a huge display but, through statistics, it does mean that 100% of the relationships shown are hetero.
Disney's Illusion Island romance
Like I said previously, there are some scenes in which Mickey and Minnie kiss. It's lip-to-lip and overly expressed as they swirl around each other. Beyond that, however, it seems that the world is not concerned about dating.
Disney's Illusion Island substance usage
I don't know what you think is going to happy in a Mickey game in 2023, but I'm happy to break it to you that there are no drugs or alcohol usage in this game starring Mickey Mouse.
Disney's Illusion Island swearing
As much as that might make this one of the most interesting games I've ever played, you will not hear so much as a "what the hyuck" from Mickey and the gang.
Disney's Illusion Island microtransactions
At the time of this writing (Aug. 3, 2023) there are no microtransactions in the game, nor is there a menu for that. That doesn't mean the future doesn't hold something different in the form of new stages or characters, but as of this moment there are no microtransactions and well as nothing on the horizon.
Disney's Illusion Island positive messages
This game isn't exactly overflowing with dialogue but for the most part, the messages are alright. Minnie has gone from her old persona of a demure significant other to a more outspoken adventurer who's often to first to dive into a new situation whether that be talking to someone intimidating or diving into a darkened pit. It's a nice change.
Disney's Illusion Island negative messages
In their quest to create a game that is devoid of violence, there are also a lot of questions it creates, especially for kids like mine. When you've warned out a boss, you cast a spell that turns the boss to stone instead of destroying it.
While it is nice to see them come up with an alternative to violence it did spawn a question from one of my kids I didn't consider. When we defeated the first boss, my nine-year-old asked, "How long do they have to stay as a statue?" But the game somewhat just has these four going through a strange land, taking things that they need and turning living things to stone and they don't really seem phased by this.
Disney's Illusion Island age barrier
When we started Disney's Illusion Island, we were really excited to find that the intro to the game is a high-quality 10-minute cut-scene fully voiced by the actual character voices. The writing is well done and plenty of jokes for both adults and kids alike wiggled in that actually work well.
But once you get into the game, the high-quality cutscenes mostly disappear and get replaced by the enemy of many a younger gamer..."dialogue boxes." The characters all talk to each other through dialogue boxes that appear at the same time as various grunts. Any child with difficult reading might get thrown off, especially as the dialogue boxes will occasionally disappear on their own.
The platforming can also be difficult for younger games, but luckily Illusion Island provides tools to help younger players. Not only can they choose to not take damage from the game's spike traps and various enemies, but you can also help them with special multiplayer tricks.
Players can leapfrog off each other in order to jump higher. And let's say you're playing with your kid and they have a hard time making a tight jump. Jump off their head to get up there and then lower a rope to pull them up. This provides several ways to help kids with difficult things like wall jumps and obstacle avoidance.
So while this game might be difficult to play for a kid solo, depending on their age, the tools are available so that an adult (or older sibling) can play with them and help them out.