Review – Dreams
It’s strange to think Dreams has been in development for almost this entire generation with it being teased back in 2012 at Gamescom and then fully announced in 2013 along with the PlayStation 4. It’s one of the rare games that people were okay with the long development time because of what it boasted. Dreams promised a limitless playground where creatives could build the game they wanted with intuitive tools, and where players could go to experience never ending amounts of content. No doubt this was a daunting task for Media Molecule to try and balance fun and depth, but they felt they were at a launching point and we finally got our hands on this creative tool. Is it everything we dreamed of? Or has it turned into a nightmare?
I feel it’s important to note early on that you need to know what kind of game you’re getting with Dreams. No doubt by now you have seen some impressive vertical slices of creations or re-creations of things people have made and for the most part they’re impressive. However, this is a creation tool first and foremost. It takes time to make games that are going to really pull you in more than “oh look, someone made a model of Mario and its first level”. As of right now, there really isn’t a “must play” game on Dreams, and even Media Molecule’s own games meant to show off the tools aren’t something that will keep you engaged for long. If you’re buying this strictly as a gamer, you may be a bit disappointed. For now.
Don’t fret though, because new experiences are being made every day. Find some creators that are doing good work and follow them to keep up on their progress. Dreams has a robust friends/follow system where it makes it very easy to see your favorite creators dreams. Invest in the community, explore and grow with the creators, provide feedback on certain things you notice while checking out showcases and works in progress. The more you invest in Dreams the more you’ll get out of it. Remember, the community is what will make Dreams the game that keeps on giving.
While Dreams can potentially be something that provides you with hours of fun playing, its main focus is on creating. You can’t have fun playing, if nobody bothers creating. From my time with Dreams it’s clear that Media Molecule wanted to create something that was accessible enough for “players” to try and create something, as well as having depth for “creative’s” to realize their vision. Of course unlike actual game engines for PC, you’re bound by the titles strict rules and PS4’s hardware limitations, but there is a crazy amount of depth here.
Media Molecule has packaged in tons of step by step tutorials that range from basic camera controls to full on logic mapping and animations. There are tutorials for just about every aspect of creating, and it is done cohesively and easily. The guides are cute, easy to understand, and easily followed. They even have guides for the different inputs supported like using the DS4 or the PSMove wands. Along with the tutorials you’ll be leveling up your Imp character, unlocking additional assets to use, as well as different kinds of Imp customizations. Media Molecule was careful in crafting something that new comers can pick up and start creating, while offering a ton of depth for creative’s.
As I said before, community plays a large part in Dreams. They even host a “Community Jam” which gives creatives a theme and they’re tasked to create something with that theme. It can be an interactive game, a visual showcase, or multimedia scene. The community will play them, vote on their favorites, and the dream that got the most votes gets featured. This is a fun way to engage both players and creatives in the community.
Media Molecule has also promised future support to include mouse and keyboard, PlayStation VR, importing/exporting, and many other features that didn’t quite meet the launch. I’m assuming the VR support has proven difficult since you need to have a steady 90-120fps, and right now it seems there is no way to control FPS in your dreams. Each game seems to be at a base 30fps and unfortunately, dips have been happening even on my PS4 Pro. Other than some frame dips, Dreams runs extremely well: going from game to game is very fast.
Dreams sort of breaks away from our typical way of scoring a game since Graphics, Gameplay, Sound, and Fun Factor all are up to the creatives. There is enough depth here for people to make very detailed looking titles, even using the PSEye camera to do motion capture. You can use microphones to add voiceover work and music and such. The fact that the creative tools are in depth enough to allow the community to create something that can rival other engines is commendable.
Media Molecule has created something that could last a lifetime within its community, and even a larger community on the PlayStation Network. There are talks on games being sold as standalone experiences if they’re well crafted enough, allowing for us common folk to actually achieve our dreams of becoming game developers. Dreams may not be something that will blow you away as only a player right now, but if you open your mind enough and get creative, there is a wealth of possibilities for you. If creating really isn’t something you’re interested in, perhaps give these creatives a bit more time to craft you a true dream-like experience.
Final Verdict: 9.0
Dreams is available now on PlayStation 4.
A copy of Dreams was provided by the publisher.