stub Disney Illusion Island Review (Switch) -
Connect with us

Disney Illusion Island Review (Switch)

Updated on

Just when I thought I had finally managed to sow the seeds in the idyllic realm of Dreamlight Valley and wipe away those blasted Night Thorns, Disney only went and called out to me, extending its arms to pull me into a whole other journey; something traditional and leaps and bounds apart from its life simulation counterpart. With a glimmer and a sparkle, Illusion Island crept up over on the Switch, once again offering me the chance to delve into the magically bombastic mind of the ever-prominent Walt Disney. Naturally, I accepted the invitation, and with a final farewell to the friends I had acquired in Dreamlight, I whisked myself away to begin anew, towards a realm of great beauty with an underlying issue that only the beloved quartet could solve.

Having spent a great deal of time rustling through the latest side-scrolling venture, it’s fair to say that Illusion Island has become something of a home away from home for me as of late. Question is, how did its sacred grounds that were purposely built for my inner child to let loose come to flourish? Well, here’s how the journey went, and how the three great Tomes of Monoth managed to channel their magics into my nine-to-five routine. For a week straight, might I add?

Trouble Is Brewing

Before we go into further detail about the actual experience of plowing through the nooks and crannies of Illusion Island, let’s go ahead and unravel the plot. Just what is Illusion Island, and why on earth are Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goody once again at the epicentre of worldwide catastrophe? Acting as if the four-piece getting into sticky situations isn’t commonplace at this point — as you do.

Illusion Island casts its focus on the magically entwined world of Monoth—a full-fat network of fluorescent chambers, cybernetic tunnels, and ever-changing environments. As the four lifelong buds (that’s Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy, in case you haven’t put two and two together yet) who’ve accidentally stumbled onto the island in search of a perfect picnic spot, you find yourself faced with a new task: to retrieve three ancient Tomes—books of power, if you like, that maintain the balance in all of Monoth. Turns out, they’ve been stolen by three unruly thieves, and have inconveniently dispersed to—surprise surprise—three completely different sections of the map. Three ancient Tomes? Three unique biomes? Three pending boss fights? You get the idea.

Illusion Island starts off like any other four-player co-op game — with a character selection screen. However, seeing as there are only four characters to choose from, all of whom possess and learn the same abilities, player choice doesn’t really matter a great deal here. If anything, it’s mostly for cosmetical purposes; if you have an undying love for Goofy, then hey — be Goofy. Fact is, it won’t make a lick of difference to the controls or general flow of the narrative. The only difference, really, is the items they use; their functionalities otherwise remain identical.

As Wholesome As They Come

There’s something awfully bittersweet about Illusion Island—indescribably nostalgic, even, in the way that, visually, it’s remarkably reminiscent of traditional side-scrolling favourites. It’s also laden with all the tropes you’d expect to find in a platforming game, right down to the spring-activated chomping plants and electrifying creatures that patrol the same paths like clockwork. It’s also rife with the usual obstacles; there’s plenty of jumping, wall-to-wall bouncing, and of course, hopping on items that often posses some form of health boost to help you along your way.

It goes without saying that, mechanically, Illusion Island isn’t in receipt of anything particularly revolutionary. Having said that, it does adhere to the saying of, ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.’ And that’s exactly what Disney Games has gone above and beyond to formulate — a classic blueprint that’s been squeezed dry countless times before, but with an enormous amount of Disney-infused energy and familiar camaraderie between old friends.

In spite of its mechanics being somewhat predictable, it’s the wholesomeness of the setting itself that really makes that dated formula pop. Gifted with a series of enchantingly elegant biomes that are equally as bright as they are compelling, Illusion Island delivers something truly magical to fans of the century-old franchise. And as far as side-scrolling games go, it’s certainly one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had the pleasure of working through. And no, that isn’t an exaggeration.

The Many, Many Doors of Monoth

Just to reiterate, gameplay in Illusion Island is mostly platform-based, and consists of having you prance around areas while collecting various items to help nudge you closer to the next objective. This is all elementary stuff, meaning the only real challenge that you’ll find at any point in your journey is learning how to time a few awkward jumps. Other than that, there isn’t a whole lot else to deal with; a bunch of malicious cacti, perhaps?

Like a lot of side-scrolling games that feature a whole bunch of different areas, Monoth is home to numerous locked doors, all of which hide behind obstacles that only specific abilities can overcome. For example, to be able to reach some cordoned off areas and progress the story, it could be that you need to locate an acquaintance and master an ability beforehand. More often than not, this means having to retrace your steps in order to delve deeper into the biomes. Not that this is much of an issue, mind you, what with the map always expanding and introducing alternate routes to transport you to your next quest marker.

The most common theme in Monoth is its use of locked doors. As you’ll come to find relatively early on, most of your duties will involve having to locate three keys to unlock an enchanted door that leads to the next area. Again, simple stuff, but you know, as they say, simplicity is key…figuratively and literally.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Aside from the frequent treks between regions, Illusion Island also boasts an adequate amount of fully animated scenes to help separate major turning points in the narrative. Like a lot of snippets from Walt Disney’s heyday in the world of VCR television, these scenes in question always manage to depict a sharp and often comical tone that’s both appealing as well as highly reminiscent of a time many of us thought departed. And so, for anyone looking to return to the classical world of Disney, Illusion Island is arguably one of the best modern representations money can currently buy.

There is one downside, though, and that’s the lack of original characters. Given the fact that Disney has a key for just about every modern-day animation on the market, it did come as a slight surprise to see such a bite-sized cast. Then again, it’s likely that the heart of the cast flocked to Dreamlight Valley, and that Illusion Island was built only with the intention of summoning a few familiar faces, and not the whole cash cow, so to speak. It’s swings and roundabouts, really, and something that one person may find disappointing, and another may find irrelevant. Either way, it’s evidently Disney, so the fact that it has Mickey Mouse in it is reason enough to give it some consideration, at least.


Given the game’s overall accessibility and quality, it’s easy to recommend Illusion Island to anyone who’s looking to bite into something that’s both mechanically sound and without its own network of underlying technicalities. It’s bread and butter side-scrolling, clear as day, and it shines best when strewn with its signature elements and aesthetics. And so, from a gameplay standpoint, it’s downright impossible to shoot it down as something it’s not — which is a half-baked experience without the tender loving care of a devoted collective.

Of course, as far as storylines travel, Illusion Island certainly isn’t anything to write home about. On the contrary, it’s really something we’ve seen several times before, and across a wide array of franchises, no less. But having said that, it does manage to serve the formula surprisingly well, and even, at least on a few occasions, bring its own spices and flavours to help make it the slightest bit more palatable. And honestly, that’s about as much as we can ask of the side-scrolling world these days: a game that’s respectful of its traditions, but also willing to test new waters to keep it fresh and forever in motion.

When all’s said and done, Disney Games’ Illusion Island is exactly what it set out to be — which is a hearty platforming adventure that belongs to no particular demographic. It’s harmless fun, through and through, and it’s bound to summon a rainbow of smiles and laughter for anyone who makes the plunge into its depths at any point this year. Scratch that — at any point, ever.

Disney Illusion Island Review (Switch)

Evidently Disney

Disney Illusion Island is a beautifully hand-crafted side-scrolling game that brings the best of Walt Disney’s signature charm to a vibrant world that’s both easily digestible and mechanically bulletproof. Story-wise, it’s certainly nothing to write home about, but as far as everything else goes — it’s a trip worth experiencing two, three, maybe even four times over. Well played, Disney.

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.