This is going to be a tough review to write. Over the last three years, Disney Infinity has given fans around the world a way to interact with their favourite Disney films that nowhere else provided, and has been the go-to for co-op Disney film tie-ins since its launch. Mixing real life collectable toys with fully fledged co-op adventures, each new Play Set provided hours of fun, and plenty of memories. However, as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end - and due to what appears to be catastrophic mismanagement from the very beginning, Disney Infinity's story will be coming to a close with this, the final Play Set, Finding Dory.
Essentially an expansion pack for Disney Infinity 3.0, the Finding Dory Play Set bundles a figure of the ever lovable (and ditsy) Dory herself, along with the all important Play Set piece, which unlocks the adventure in game. So long as you own Disney Infinity 3.0, plonking the piece on your Disney Infinity portal will let you venture into Dory's world, as you set out on a co-op adventure. Rather than being based on the plot of the film, the story here instead revolves around the Marine Life Institute, which has suffered a flood, putting its fishy inhabitants in danger! It may be a bit of a weird plot if you stop to think about it (let's face it, you'd imagine fish would be totally fine with more water - a drought might be scarier?), but it ties in nicely with the film, providing a handy excuse for a co-op adventure that takes you through all the familiar locations from the film, across a set of 2D, underwater levels.
However, before we even begin, we should probably mention Finding Dory's biggest issue. While the game itself may be fully playable in co-op, when you first buy the Finding Dory Play Set, you won't actually be able to play in co-op out of the box. As we mentioned above, one of Disney Infinity's biggest issues has been that it's been plagued by dreadful management decisions from the start - one of the biggest of which is this trend towards greed. The original game burnt many a finger on Christmas morning, when parents discovered you couldn't actually play the game in co-op out of the box - and Finding Dory treads a similar path. As the game only comes with one figure - and only figures from each "world" can play in each Play Set - if you want to play with a friend, you'll have to shell out the extra for a Nemo figure. That's not too bad if you were planning on buying it anyway, but when every Play Set up until Marvel Battlegrounds has bundled two figures, it just comes across as being that little bit too penny pinching.
In terms of gameplay though, Finding Dory quickly redeems itself. Played from a side on perspective, the vast majority of levels here are classic, platformer-style affairs - only there's no actual platforming here, as you're underwater. With shells to collect, switches to flip, and fish to be found, the idea here is to make your way through each of the nautical environments, "collecting" as many fish as you can, by swimming into them. Each level is divided up into sections by some fish gates, which stop you getting through unless you've already found a certain number of fish - so you'll need to explore every nook and cranny to ensure no-one gets left behind.
With more of an emphasis on exploring levels and solving puzzles than combat, any enemy encounters in Finding Dory are few and far between. Most of the enemies you come across (plastic fish) can be disposed of if you fling a simply bubble their way, while those that can't mostly just have to be avoided. When it comes to exploring the levels, though, the puzzles often play a large part, as jet stream currents often stop you accessing certain areas until you've flipped a switch, somewhere. Other switches start dividers rotating, or open doors, and figuring out when to flip each switch is part of the fun.
As you make your way through the game, you'll also come across areas that are blocked off and can't be solved with a simple puzzle, whether it's a pipe gunked up with algae, a cave that's just too dark to enter, or a jet stream you can't swim against. Luckily for you, Dory has something of a knack for making friends, and along the way you'll befriend various sea creatures who'll accompany you on your adventures - and can help you reach the locked off areas.
Once you've unlocked the hermit crab, for instance, you can grab onto his shell, and claw your way through against the currents, while a cuttlefish will help light up dark areas.
Of course, it's not just 2D levels you can play through - as you'll have noticed from our gorgeous article header picture, there is also a 3D section to the Finding Dory Play Set, in the form of the hub world. In this much more open space, you can take part in races and obstacle courses - and, perhaps more interestingly, build a house for each of Dory's new friends. Stopping by the handy shop will let you customise the houses with new paint jobs, and, even better, give the fish you've rescued a new style too.
And this hub world - much like the rest of the levels - is full of really nice touches. If you hang around for a bit, a seagull will come and land on the surface of the water - and if you ever venture up to the top, you can leap out, looking absolutely soaked (and a little bit plasticy) as you do so. There's a decent variety to the levels too, and from the narrow pipes of the quarantine center, to the sheer terror of the waggling hands in the touch pool, there's plenty of familiar sight from the film.
While it may not do anything new, Finding Dory nevertheless lets Disney Infinity 3.0 bow out with its head held high. If you're a big Disney Infinity fan though, you'll likely get a lump in your throat as you boot the game up, and wonder about what could have been. While the whole "you need to buy another figure to play in co-op" thing leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth, Finding Dory is a great film tie-in, and an equally great Play Set. It's still well worth getting if you're a Disney Infinity fan - especially as it'll likely be dropping to rock bottom prices in the shops very soon...