Developer: Media Molecule Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 4
After Dream Surfing player creations for many hours within Dreams, I found a video presentation called ‘What Dreams Means to Me’ created by a group of collaborators. The short presentation was created entirely within Dreams, with all the collaborators appearing in puppet form throughout the video. This group has members from around the world with each specialising in a different aspect of creation, and together they have been able to collaborate with one another to bring their dreams to life. This incredible story of a group of friends working together from around the world could not exist without Dreams, and there are potentially thousands more of these stories out there.
Dreams might be an incredibly detailed creation tool, but the most important aspect of Dreams as an experience, is its ability to connect and form relationships. That is something truly special. Dreams is a collaborative community, where you can specialise in what you want, work with who you want, enjoy other creations, or make your own dreams a reality.
Throughout your time with Dreams, you will build your own Aura. Your Aura can be found on your profile and will change colour depending on which features of Dreams you utilise the most. These features include Play, Design, Art, Animation, Audio, and Curation. Whether you simply want to enjoy the Dreams others create, build your own levels utilising logic and animation, or simply utilise the musical creation features, you will always expand upon your Aura. This is a fantastic feature, especially for those within the community looking to collaborate with others. For instance, perhaps you specialise in animated characters, and need music for your level. You could utilise the audio already available within Dreams, or you could look for someone radiating an Audio Aura. This allows players to find fellow creators that can help compliment one another, in order to build some creative and unique experiences.
Dreams does contain its own story-based campaign, known as Art’s Dream. This experience can be completed within a few hours, but it contains a brilliant narrative that never outstays its welcome. Players will follow the story of a musician named Art, who after falling out with members of his band, must face his inner demons to better himself for the future. Throughout the story you will control Art in reality, but also venture deep into his sub-conscious, as he attempts to cope with the stress and pressures of being a musician. Due to Art’s profession as a musician, the entirety of Art’s Dream contains a brilliant jazz-styled soundtrack. These tracks are fantastic, and different genres of music are also scattered throughout, including a few outrageously comical music scenes.
The narrative is extremely well paced, with each scene only ever lasting a few minutes at a time. These scenes can range from platforming, 3D adventure-based levels, musical sequences, bullet hell-like shooters and more. Art’s Dream does a fantastic job at showcasing what players can create utilising the tools Dreams has to offer, and the entire experience is entertaining. Due to its length, I find it hard to recommend Dreams on this story campaign alone, but this is a brilliant complimentary experience which is perfect for a single gaming session.
The main way players will interact with Dreams will be with their personal Imp, which allows players to possess puppets, create levels and much more. Your Imp is your cursor to explore Dreams, but can also be customised using skins unlocked by completing Imp Quests. These minor quests help encourage players to test out a variety of creation modes, tutorials, and interact with the community. Moving your Imp throughout the world can be done using the analog sticks, motion controls within the DualShock 4, or utilising PlayStation Move controllers. I found the DualShock 4 motion control option to be most useful, as it allowed great freedom when exploring levels, and moving objects. The motion controls are responsive, but I found my Imp would lose its central position frequently. Your Imp’s position can be re-calibrated by holding down the Options button, but the constant need to realign my Imp within Dreams became frustrating very quickly.
If the thought of creating levels seems overwhelming, or you don’t consider yourself to be creatively minded, that’s perfectly fine. Dreams allows players to simply experience levels other players have created, without ever forcing players to create their own experiences. Finding levels in Dream Surfing mode (where players go to play other levels) is incredibly easy, with extensive search features. Trending levels, Media Molecule picks, recommended levels, and Community Jam entries are all available to player at the touch of a button. Dreams also allows you to search by name, genre, or simply, randomise the levels you play. You can even follow creators you enjoy, which allows their next creation to be at the forefront of your Dream Surfing experience; you’re never far away from finding more experiences to play. Impressively, it rarely ever takes more than a few seconds to load into someone else’s creation, despite some levels being incredibly extensive.
Throughout my time playing Dreams, I’ve been able to explore a life-size replica of Hogwarts, swing through the city as Spider-Man, play through a Crash Bandicoot inspired creation, and even play a ‘what if’ full version of the cancelled Silent Hills game. There are also a huge array of creations available in Dreams, from an array of creative platformers, unique mini-games, animated video, and even pieces of music. While many of these experiences are short, the potential for substantial creations in the future is high; as there are already several in-depth creations from the beta version of Dreams available.
There are also many intriguing and expansive experiences on the way, from a photo-realistic survival game, Resident Evil-inspired horror game, an arcade kart racer, and much more. All these ‘work in progress’ creations can be uploaded and experienced by other players, with the ability to offer important feedback to the creator to ensure the finished product is playable and polished. Unlike most AAA experiences that require expansions or paid DLC to expand the base product, Dreams will continue to expand at an incredible pace due to the community output, and all these creations will be available to everyone who owns Dreams, without an additional purchase..
The Dreams creation suite is incredibly in-depth, and it can be overwhelming at first, especially when you see several menus within menus, each with dozens of options; it’s like learning a new language. Fortunately, Media Molecule has included a plethora of useful tutorials, which cover almost every aspect of the creation tools on offer. Each tutorial is separated into comprehensive steps, with video representations of the described actions and concise voice overs detailing each instruction. These tutorials are optional, and you can still create detailed levels utilising other elements players have made without them. However, I highly recommend exploring each of these tutorials, as they help explain the ‘Why’ and ‘How’ regarding most of the options available to the player when creating.
There are also Masterclass tutorials, which feature extensively in-depth step by step instructions regarding a variety of development factors, all of which are hosted by Media Molecule developers. While these are geared towards the experienced Dreams creator, they provide solid advice and tips to players wanting to create their own masterpiece from scratch.
Dream Shaping is where you will be creating your own personal Dreams, these can be levels, animated films, music tracks, elements for other players to use in their levels, or whatever your imagination can create. As I said above, the creation suite is extremely intricate and takes some time to comprehend. I have been playing, creating and completing every tutorial in Dreams for over a week, and I still cannot fathom the true potential of the creation tools available. While this may sound daunting to some players, this doesn’t mean you can’t create something incredible.
Instead of creating a level from scratch, players can utilise the search functions to find level elements, audio files, and entire worlds which have been created by others. Players can utilise these community created items to build something truly unique, without ever having to learn the intricate properties of level creation. Not only that, but other players can upload their creations with a Remix option, which means they have allowed other players to enter their creation, alter the level and re-publish it for themselves. This feature allows the entire community to come together, in order to help each other create something memorable.
For those wanting to learn the ins and outs of the creation tools, there is a considerable investment needed. Dreams allows players to create the logic behind each character on screen, utilising microchips which can wire properties and fundamental elements together in order function correctly. Artists can sculpt entire detailed models from scratch, and then implement logic to evolve them into unique playable characters. Even audio experts can edit pieces of music, utilising different keys of instruments to alter sounds, or even write their own tracks. The options are truly endless, and I’m excited to see how the Dreams community can continue to learn and implement these features going forward.
It’s easy to say Dreams has the ‘potential for greatness’, but this potential has already been realised by a number of extremely talented community members. As this creative knowledge continues to spread throughout the community, and more talented collaborative projects are created, Dreams will continue to evolve into something truly special.
Art’s Dream is a fantastic appetiser to the content available in Dreams, forming a solid highlight reel of the potential gameplay options available to players. The story mode can be completed within a few hours, but still offers a memorable adventure from start to finish.
Dreams is an experience like no other, offering players an incredible tool-set and allowing them to create whatever they desire. Players can still have a fantastic time with Dreams, without ever learning how to build a level, or even considering content creation. However, if you’re playing a level and creativity strikes, players have the option to Remix other Dreams in a unique collaborative effort to build something special.
Dreams will continue to evolve through the collaborative effort of the community, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for Media Molecule’s latest creation.
The Score: 9.0
PlayStation 4 review code was provided by publisher.