Disney Illusion Island Has Metroidvania Elements but No Combat

Disney Illusion Island is an upcoming platformer that Dlala Studios has shown at various Nintendo Directs. And while it’s still a 2D platformer at heart, it’s also taking elements from search action platformers like Metroid.

Creative Director AJ Grand-Scrutton spoke to Game Informer about the game and how it’s all set up. Like any typical entry in the genre, Disney Illusion Island‘s world has places that are locked behind certain abilities. However, Grand-Scrutton said it also “really depends on the room.”

“I think it’d be silly to shy away from the reality that, structurally, we’re super influenced by Metroidvania,” said Grand-Scrutton. “It’s a big seamless [world], there are gates that are locked off by abilities, and you unlock those abilities to get through there and open up new content. So, we love a lot of Metroidvanias, and they had a big influence. But I think a big difference is Metroidvania is quite combat focused, whereas our main focus here is platforming.”

Grand-Scrutton continued, noting that it still has plenty of platforming elements and even recalled a specific platformer from Ubisoft.

“So while Metroidvania influenced our structure, it’s much more influenced by a lot of traditional platforming,” said Grand-Scrutton. “So as strange as it sounds, what we’ve really created is like this big open-world platform experience, where it’s all about the joy of movement and mastering those mechanics. I think that whilst some classic Metroidvania is an influence on us, I think we took a lot from the classic ’90s, Mickey games, and modern stuff like Rayman Legends, as well. I think it’s kind of just as much platform influence as the Metroidvania side of things.”

And while games like Metroid, Castlevaniaand Guacamelee are filled with combat encounters, Disney Illusion Island doesn’t have any. It’s a peculiar choice, but Grand-Scrutton explained that the game didn’t need it.

“From the start, the joy of movement was important to us. And at the same time – and this is a super fluffy, creative-director kind of answer for you – but Mickey and friends didn’t necessarily scream combat to me,” said Grand-Scrutton. “We’ve got this brand-new world and these new characters, and what didn’t sit right was this isn’t like a big evil world. This is a world that exists about Mickey and friends. I didn’t really want the characters to come in and just start jumping on people’s heads when all those people are doing is hanging out in their houses, basically. It didn’t really fit the vibe of the story; it didn’t really fit the vibe of the characters for us.”

He also talked about how platforming was the truly fun part of the game and that Disney supported this break from tradition.

“And as soon as we started getting in the abilities, that’s what the game was to us,” he said. “The platforming magic — those abilities — that’s where we were having fun. Even in our thought processes where we sat in a room, and combat almost, whenever it was in a conversation, it was almost like this side thing of us being keen, ‘Ah, we probably have to put combat in the game.’ And I think at some point, we’re just like, ‘Why do we have to?’ Who’s sitting there saying, like, ‘We have to do this.’ And I’ll say that Disney supports us doing that [laughs]. We just looked at it, and we realized, you know, if the game doesn’t need it — and it doesn’t — the game isn’t sitting there going, ‘I’m missing something,’ then let’s trust our guts and build this experience around the movement.’ then let’s trust our guts and build this experience around the movement.”