If you told me at the beginning of this generation that my PlayStation 4 console would eventually become a powerful gaming development tool for not only gaming developers themselves, but for the everyday home console owner, I would have told you that you were dreaming. Pardon the pun, but that is exactly what is happening here with Media Molecule’s Dreams. We have been gifted this tremendous engine that allows players to mold and construct their own world inside this monumental piece of software. Of course, Media Molecule are no strangers to the “Play, Create, Share” motto with Dreams being the spiritual sequel, and ultimate successor of the prominent and powerful level creator/sharing franchise, Little Big Planet. While the simplistic level creator presented some limitation and boundaries in terms of it’s creativity, ideas, designs, and physics, Dreams defies that logic in it’s entirety, and presents something boundless. It’s as if you can jump right in, search for literally anything and it will pop right up. With an array of genre’s and categories to search from, there is no shortage here on what you can, and may experience with your time in Dreams. It’s incredible.
While I may consider this one of the most difficult reviews to write, mainly due to the fact that Dreams is open ended, the appraisal is all in it’s core offering from the first party, Sony Development Studio. Gaming creation within a game’s software itself is a tough gig to campaign, sell, or even market with the rise of simplistic development tools being made generally accessible nowadays to anyone with an internet connection. But to be able to inspire kids out there to pick up a PlayStation 4 controller, and construct their own world is truly influential, and a way of looking at future game developers in the making. However, not just for kids, but for anyone who has a creative itch to scratch and would like something simple and fun to create their own universe with the touch of a few buttons presents something of imaginable significance within the gaming world. The prosperity within Dreams is recognised by how hefty it’s promise does defiantly (and yes, I mean defiantly) deliver.
While Dreams tends to be driven on it’s community creation hub, Media Molecule released a library of titles for players to experience the true potential of it’s creation suite, and among these original creations, comes it’s headlining campaign, “Art’s Dream“. While it’s a simple example of the engine’s true nature, Art’s Dream shows how boisterous Dreams truly is. The short two hour campaign follows Art through his life as a struggling musician who had a falling out with former bandmates. While reminiscing, he “day-dreams” multiple scenarios that figuratively come to life with a cast of fantasy inspired characters that adventure through multiple worlds. You do get the gist that what is being presented to you, is a taste of what you could ultimately create, or surpass with this astonishing gaming development apparatus being laid at your disposal. I truly was awe-struck by the plausible amount of probability Dreams presented within this fine example, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Beginning Dreams, we’re introduced to small blue fuzzball known as an “imp”, our bilateral buddy, for on-screen interactive purposes. Simply, the imp is there to act as a mouse cursor to guide us through multiple menu’s and even help us shape, build, mold and interact with our in-game created characters. While I did find it cute at the beginning, my patience with controlling our cursor buddy did run a little thin, as you may only move the imp with the DualShock 4’s gyro controls. While using the PlayStation Move controllers here were okay, I really did not find it ideal to only be locked-in with gyro motion controls for level creation. It presents a level of inaccessibility in some ways, and while I may understand that it does help streamline some form of creativity, and makes for faster onscreen design in some cases, and gives a small sense of authenticity like gaming developers sitting with a mouse and keyboard at a PC screen, it comes down to preference here. And I would probably prefer to control my imp by simply using the analogue sticks on my DualShock controller.
Putting that minor issue aside, let’s talk about how awesome “Dream Shaping” truly is. Once entering the creator’s suite, you are given a bountiful supply of development tools and assets at your fingertips. Here is where players can dream-up their incredible visions to share with the world. You are given the choice to sculpt, paint, create your own original compositions and string them together with the gadgets tool, that ultimately configures each mechanic mapped out in your game. It translates everything from basic coding into a simplistic form of connecting dots, that makes it more accessible to those who are new to the world of gaming creation. While you may use base assets that are simply handed to you in the creator’s suite, there is a limitless library of choice made available from other members of the community that you may search within the game itself, or jump onto your local browser and head to indreams.me. This does include background music, in-game character models, sound effects, and other assets that creators may choose for others to utilise in their game.
While exploring “Dream Surfing“, it’s unavoidable that you will stumble upon remake city. Yes, there are a tonne of Crash Bandicoot, Super Mario, and Sonic fan-made creations out there. And while 99.9% of those are inaccurate, there are a small number of fan-made creations from those listed above that will have you absolutely gobsmacked at how close to the originals they truly are. If there was any advice I could give anyone jumping into Dreams is, don’t look for remakes, jump into an original creation and be amazed at the depth that’s being delivered, because there is truly some inspirational creations being previewed here. I never thought I would be scared to play a fan-made horror title in Dreams, but “Beyond the Nightmare” by Porkepik56 had me quaking. I ignorantly spared the thought of story depth that could potentially be exhibited, but was blown away with sheer amount of creativity from Quixoma’s “Exodus Machina”, an episodic thriller set in the distant future about a Police Officer, investigating a murder in the town’s nearby hotel that gave off some serious Dino Crisis vibes. And, I have not laughed at anything so hard in such a long time as Whaleinator-L’s “Persnickety 5”, a Persona 5 Parody Platformer-hybrid turn-based combat RPG, in which you play as Phantom Thief member Morgana, in search of Pizza for Skull and Joker. Have you ever summoned Leonardo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as a Persona? I think not.
These are just three examples of the 712 original titles I experienced in my 24 hours of Dream Surfing. From the multitude of categories on offer including original games, art pieces, sculptures, animated shorts, showcases, visual effects, music videos, sound effects, podcasts (yes people are actually posting their podcasts in Dreams), to the countless genres that are easy to search for within the hundreds of tags associated with these creations, right down to Dreams’ easy to use GUI. Media Molecule sets a precedence in what’s trending, to what people are currently playing, and also displays what’s new this week in Dreams. I am absolutely floored by the insane amount of depth that this game has offered me. It’s experience is unmatched. It truly is something special, and an essential piece of PlayStation history not to be missed. I sit here and think about Dreams’ true potential, and how it could be used to identify undiscovered talent. How Dreams is truly a tool with hidden probability to change someone’s life. It could happen. It sounds unrealistic to some, but with it’s immeasurable prospect, and contingency, we could possibly see a breakout title come from this piece of kit, right here.
I’m floored, I’m stunned, I’m flabbergasted, and totally left speechless. Dreams is the ultimate gaming development engine for Dreamers. If you have ever considered (even in the slightest) of making your own video game, you can. It’s so easy, but it does require some patience. While there may be some minor learning curbs to attain while trying to master it’s true potential, Dreams delivers on it’s promise to help bring all your ideas to life. It’s not just some simple level maker, it’s a powerful administration tool that allows you to create your own world. It’s one for you to enjoy creating an original experience, and one to experience original creations. Dreams’ true capabilities are yet to be discovered, as we are well into it’s early days in full release but I have no doubts that not too far in the future, we may see some of the greatest in gaming this year come from this engine, this platform, this wealth of creativity that is the Dreams community. Dreams is essential gaming this year, and truly a must have for all gamers.
Dreams - Media Molecule
Dreams is a game creation system developed by Media Molecule and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4. The game allows players to create user-generated content in the form of fully-fledged games.