Content Warning – This article discusses sensitive topics regarding mental health, particularly those surrounding depression, anxiety and negative thoughts.
I genuinely look forward to every Disney Dreamlight Valley update that releases. Since its launch into Early Access, I’ve been curious about how the story will play out and how our characters will shape the game’s world. The fifth update, released last week on June 7, is no exception to this; I have a lot of complicated but overall positive thoughts about it.
While I’m not here to review it, I want to share the highlight of this update – the story’s deep dive into mental health and well-being and how it resonates with many of us, including myself. Be prepared for some heavy story spoilers from this point onward.
Disney Dreamlight Valley’s Discussion on Mental Health and Well-being: The Forgotten
When you first step into Disney Dreamlight Valley and meet each character, you’ll slowly learn more about the world and how the “Forgetting” caused the world to go from fun-loving and magical to gloomy and enveloped in night thorns. Over time, we discover that a magical entity, known as the Forgotten, is the source of this. Throughout the game, the Forgotten is painted as the main antagonist and villain of this story, and someone we should both fear and defeat to restore peace to the land.
That is until you get to the fifth update and actually meet the Forgotten. This is where things change.
The first time I sat back and noticed this shift was during the initial Forgotten Memories quests with the Fairy Godmother. You play as the Forgotten during this and experience firsthand how they think. At first, you may expect them to lash out or act like a stereotypical villain until you see their first few thoughts and responses to the characters.
I’ll openly admit it; there are a few times when I truly resonate with a game character. This is one of those times.
From this point onward, you play as someone who wants nothing more than to make others happy while feeling miserable inside. They constantly feel stressed, drained, and unhappy, yet they don’t fully understand why. As this stress continues to build up more and more, they continue to feel misunderstood and question why this is happening. And surely, if they don’t understand it themselves, no one else does, right?
And that’s where misunderstandings and misfortunes begin, both for the Forgotten and for many of us.
The Snowball Effect and Impacts on Our Thoughts
Diving a little further into the story, you see the Forgotten helping out various characters with different levels of success. Sure, the bouquet and Bouillabaisse may not have been our best work, but Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy at least appreciated the effort. Overall, we get a surface-level look at the Forgotten’s thoughts and behavior and may still have questions about how it snowballed to this point.
The game answers those questions once we get to Mother Gothel.
Let’s imagine for a moment the Forgotten’s situation. They’re experiencing these complex feelings and don’t fully understand why, and while helping others, they’re trying to gain insight into this situation. Mother Gothel comes by and, as a “mother” figure, manipulates the Forgotten. This shows that the Forgotten wasn’t just born this way; this behavior developed over time through lived experiences.
The worst part of this is it happens multiple times. I’m looking at you, Scar.
Let’s fast forward to the end of this storyline. After we finish our exploration of the Dark Castle and meet the Forgotten, there is no massive epic battle where we slay the villain and restore peace to the land. Sure, there’s a bit of fighting, but it leads to us and the Forgotten reminiscing on old memories. These aren’t just any random memories, either. These pleasant ones from our childhood bring genuine joy and nostalgia to both characters, reinforcing the idea that things weren’t always this way.
In other words, the Forgotten is capable of feeling happiness and joy but doesn’t know how to. We are here to teach them this and support the Forgotten through their pain and struggles. It’s a road to recovery during a time when things seemed hopeless.
This was the part that tugged at my heart the most. I’ve been in this exact situation where things seemed like they would never get better, and the downward spiral would continue forever. Once you’re in that loop, it can feel like you’re stuck with no way to climb back out. Sure, there are meds, therapy, and other valuable resources to help, but for the most part, you feel alone with no way out. It’s a brutal, soul-crushing feeling.
That’s why, as cliché and cheesy as it sounds, showing the power of friendship at the end was also impactful to me.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
The end of this first act also serves as the light at the end of the tunnel for the Forgotten. The Forgotten is now part of the village and understands that, with love and support, the world can look a little brighter. While it’s not a guaranteed solution, and there are still plenty of struggles, it shows just how powerful a kind word and gesture can do.
It saves lives.
Throughout this part of Disney Dreamlight Valley’s story, I thoroughly enjoyed this deep dive into the mind of the Forgotten and understanding that, hey, this “villain” isn’t some evil being that seeks to destroy the world. While our regular characters are typical hero-types that happily help out the other villagers, the Forgotten is that part of us that goes, “Why am I doing this again?” It’s a natural thought that makes us want to ask why they’re not fetching the item or talking to someone themselves.
At the same time, it can be hard to say no to people without feeling like you’re a bad person. Feeling anxious or scared is normal, and we may say yes at our own expense because of it.
The Forgotten embodies all these thoughts, and it’s hard not to empathize and resonate with them. The Forgotten wants to experience life and its beauty happily, but all it sees is overwhelming responsibility and stress. The combination of stress, fear, and betrayal can overwhelm someone to the point of having inner turmoil, and it’s hard to recover from this situation. A support system is crucial for anyone; without it, it’s easy to crumble.
Mental health and well-being are serious topics that can use more attention. It is devastating for many, but there is a level of satisfaction in overcoming those hurdles and finding those support systems that help us climb out of the seemingly never-ending pits we may find ourselves in. I’m happy to see these topics discussed more in media in a healthy, understanding way, and it reminds me that there is light at the end of the pitch-black tunnel.
It also serves as a subtle but important encouragement to share that support with others. I may not remember what I ate for lunch last week, but I remember that one time six years ago when I was having a bad day, and a random stranger said they liked my hat. A random act of kindness goes a long way, and a strong friendship goes even further.
If you or a loved one are experiencing similar feelings or need emotional support, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Below are some global resources you can use:
- Global Mental Health Resources
- Find a Helpline
- Directory of International Mental Health Helplines
- Your local Emergencies Services