Media Molecule has been crafting top-notch PlayStation games since 2008's LittleBigPlanet and Dreams is their most ambitious title yet.
Where do I even begin? Dreams is such a huge experience that it's difficult to describe. If you've ever played LittleBigPlanet and seen some of the incredible games and levels that folks created for it then try and imagine that but with 3D gameplay and in-depth tools that allow you to create music, characters, environments, and animation then put them all together to build a game or even a short film. I guess that sums Dreams up nicely but I'm really only scratching the surface. To help illustrate what Dreams is capable of, it includes a couple hour long campaign called Art's Dream that was created using the in-game tools. It tells the story of a musician via various scenes that are fleshed out with gameplay that ranges from mini-games to point-and-click adventures to 3D platforming. This campaign is nothing short of memorable and inspirational and sets the perfect tone for what's in store once you dive into the community element.
Speaking of which, browsing the community creations can be an awe-inspiring treat. I say "can be" because if you don't appreciate the amount of patience, talent, and effort that it takes to make a game then you likely won't have a thrilling time trying out the seemingly endless amount of available creations. Personally, I loved simply loading up people's short films and still art pieces just to see the talent on display but don't get me wrong; Dreams isn't just about appreciating art. In fact, some of the created games are so much fun that they rival most indies out there. Considering Dreams hasn't been around long, imagine what sort of jaw-dropping games will be out in a year or 2 from now, especially because Dreams itself will be constantly updated and expanded upon and will even include PlayStation VR support at some point. In other words, it's definitely worth playing now and down the road, it'll be an even more fruitful experience.
One aspect of Dreams that's awesome is how many fan creations there are. So far, I've come across games inspired by such classics as Tomb Raider, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Spyro the Dragon. Some of them are so good that it makes me wish new official games would release in their respective franchises. There are also fan-created short films like an adorable My Neighbor Totoro music video.
Of course, there are completely original creations as well. Although they lack in immediate recognisability, many of them accomplish their goals masterfully whether it's to make you laugh, think, or merely have fun. There's so much imagination on display that I hope Dreams inspires plenty of creative individuals to pursue careers in game development as I'm sure many of them will succeed in the industry.
I've already established how open-ended creating and playing Dreams is but one underrated element that it accomplishes masterfully is its sense of community. Not only can you comment on creations and share screenshots of them via a social media style system, you can also collaborate with others. This can be accomplished in many ways and the 2 most notable features that allow for it are being able to use community assets and alter works in progress. So, if you lack the patience to make something from scratch, perhaps you can lend your talents to help flesh out a promising concept that someone else created. The possibilities are virtually endless.
Although I'm absolutely impressed by what Dreams is capable of, it does have its downsides. For starters, most creation tools are handled as intuitively as they could be but you still have to have a ton of patience to learn and practice before you can actually make something worthwhile so don't expect a pick-up-and-make format like in Super Mario Maker. Finally, a great deal of content in Dreams is based on 3D platforming just like how LittleBigPlanet was focused on 2D platforming. The problem is that I found a lot of the 3D platforming to be quite clumsy whether it was featured in a community creation or something made by Media Molecule. Specifically, I'd often jump and not know exactly where to jump to due to the visuals being ambiguous. I'm no game developer but perhaps better shadows would help guide the player more intuitively. Heck, this quibble may even be patched soon and it's not even a big issue anyway.
Dreams is such an astounding creative experience that I highly recommend it to every PS4 owner. Even if you're uncreative and cynical, it's difficult not to appreciate what Dreams and its community of creators have to offer.
- + Amazingly open-ended tools allow for endless imaginative creations
- + Playing others' creations is super-addictive
- + Establishes a strong sense of community
- - Requires a ton of patience and discipline to create anything worthwhile
- - Platforming often feels a bit clumsy