It’s been so long since Dreams was announced that, at times, it felt like its announcement back in 2013 was a dream. We’ve gone an entire console generation, almost exactly seven years, since Media Molecule revealed the game/creation-suite with a teaser back during the PlayStation Meeting in February 2013 when the PlayStation 4 was officially shown for the first time. Since then we’ve had glimpses, teasers, trailers, gameplay demos and an early access release before, finally, Media Molecule’s latest creation is out and in our hands.
Have you ever wanted to create a game of your own, but were also worried about the time commitment required to learn the myriad tools required? Enter Dreams, the all-in-one game creation suite that is somehow both inherently simple and incredibly complex. Eschewing the lines of code, complex wireframes, and geometric mapping many associate with game development for a 3D environment controlled by a fuzzy Imp, Dreams brings a relative simplicity to creation that makes it easy to jump in. After going through a few of the interactive tutorials teaching me how to control the creation space (called the Dream Workspace), I was able to quickly begin building small Scenes. Scenes are the same as Levels in a game, with the ability for multiple Scenes to be linked together to create a larger game or experience. I was amazed at how quickly I was able to begin creating my (utterly basic and rudimentary) Scenes.
While it took me less than an hour to grasp the absolute basics of creation in Dreams, the game contains hours of tutorials to teach you all of the little intricacies in its systems. You can freely create assets within the game, sculpting out masterpieces or monstrosities as you wish. You can freely alter the Logic behind anything you create, changing how your creations interact with the World around it. Best yet, however, is being able to easily search for and use other people’s creations. Type in a keyword, apply a couple of filters, and within seconds you’ve got a myriad of assets that you can place in your creation with a push of a button. Have you had visions and dreams of levels and worlds you’d love to create, but you don’t have the skills to create the characters or props necessary? Well, Dreams takes care of that exact problem for you. Your blue-sky visions can be borne using the physical creations of others, and it’s that level of accessibility that truly makes Dreams shine.
Creation is down using one of three control schemes: PlayStation Move controllers, a DualShock 4 with motion controls enabled or a DualShock 4 with motion controls disabled. My one suggestion is to avoid that last option, as creation using a DualShock 4 with the motion controls disabled is an utter slog thanks to camera controls and the like now requiring extra button combinations to be used. Motion controls are where it’s at with Dreams, especially given the ability to quickly tweak sensitivities and the like, letting you quickly adjust the controls to meet your preferences. My one major takeaway from the controls and creation in Dreams, however, is how much better it would have been with VR support. While it isn’t overly difficult to adjust camera angles while creating, it also isn’t overly easy, and the ability to easily interpret my space in 3D and adjust viewing angles and zoom by simply moving my head would have taken this to the next level.
Are you feeling uncertain on what sort of experiences can be created in Dreams? Do you simply want to play, instead of creating? Well, you can always play the creations that Media Molecule themselves have included in the game, as well as the shared creations others have made in Dreams. The drawcard of Media Molecule’s creations is Art’s Dream a short 2-ish hour adventure built to showcase the range of gameplay experiences you can create within the game. From a 2D SHMUP to 3D Platformer to a Point and Click adventure game, Art’s Dream has incredible range to it, with a surprisingly touching story of a musician learning to battle self-doubt and despair. That only scratches the surface of what there is in Dreams, with thousands of creations already available and ready to be played thanks to Media Molecule and other devoted Creators who have put in the hours between the game’s early access period and now. The quality of these experiences of course varies, but there is no shortage of wonderful games and creations out there, not to mention a number of clearly license-infringing creations if you feel like jumping into those.
While the wait was long, Dreams is unlike anything else available on the PlayStation 4. Media Molecule have created something that is truly special and opens up the ability to create and build gameplay experiences in an accessible way that I’ve never seen before. Even if you don’t want to build your own creations, the number of interesting and meticulously crafted experiences from Media Molecule and Others make Dreams a worthwhile purchase.
- Creation tools are both accessible and deep - Sharing and searching for created content is easy - In-depth (and individually accessible) tutorials - Heaps of fantastic creations to play
- Could have benefited from PlayStation VR support - Non-motion control schemes can be fiddly and cumbersome