Media Molecule, the esteemed studio behind PS3 hits Little Big Planet and Tearaway, have brought something special to the PS4 with their latest game. Dreams is more of a creative toolset than a conventional gaming experience, but even for the less technically capable, there’s plenty to enjoy thanks to an intuitive design and the ability to play levels built by others.
Dreams was officially announced during E3 2015, and after several delays and a lengthy development cycle, the game is finally out in the wild. But even as we enter the final build-up to the game’s full launch, many players likely aren’t clued in to what exactly Dreams is all about.
In brief, Dreams has two different modes of play. In its dream shaping mode, players are given the opportunity to build levels and maps with a toolset with astonishing depth. But for those that don’t fancy that, you can just visit and view other peoples work via the dream surfing option.
Regardless of your preference, whether you like to sculpt, paint, make music, make games, tell stories, or just want to see what other players have made, there’s something for everyone in Media Molecule’s new game.
For the creative types, Dreams is a big step above the hugely successful Little Big Planet, offering players an improved tool kit that enables creations which would’ve been more difficult or near impossible previously. It also works within a 3D space instead of the previous 2D limitations, which brings a lot more to the table than previously imaginable –such as most obviously 3D platforming.
In Dreams, you control an Imp of your choice, a small tear-shaped creature that follows your cursor and is used to possess ‘puppets’ such as the tutorial character, Connie the cone.
When possessing a character, you typically navigate the world in the third-person – unless a level designer has made it otherwise. Connie can walk and jump, but in Dreams this can all be altered by using various gadgets, and that’s where it all gets really complicated.
Players can also make their own puppets using puppet templates and customize them to their liking. Games can be given health bars, score trackers, etc – music can be created via timelines, and everything can be painted using the many different available fleck settings and brushes.
If you aren’t possessing a puppet, you navigate the world kind of like a floating camera with a HUD that allows you to select various tools and settings. From these menus, you can fine tune your settings for sculpting, music, animation, art, and many more.
Upon beginning a brand new project, players are able to place and form basic shapes themselves, as well as find assets made by others via an easy to use search function. For example, the tree pictured above was available in a collection of foliage items arranged by another player.
Dreams’ controls are fluid, and its complex creation menus are surprisingly easy to navigate with some practice and assistance from the tutorials. The L1 button is described as working similarly to the shift key on a keyboard, as when pressed it changes the actions of other buttons.
If you find yourself lacking inspiration –in my case, making awful Twinfinite logos– or perhaps your creative talents aren’t quite up to scratch, you don’t have to create from scratch. You can actually go ahead and play other people’s creations, or have fun playing around remixing them, too.
Remixes allow you to put your own spin on someone else’s work and are a useful way to get creative if you’re struggling to create a foundation yourself.
The level of detail in making Dreams an accessible experience for players is admirable, as there is a tutorial for each component. In these tutorials, your friend the architect prepares you for creating your own dreams and allows you to better understand how dreams built by others function.
In tutorials, Connie – the playable cone-shaped protagonist – has a friend named Cuthbert who is always in need of help. Tutorials usually involve Connie navigating her way towards Cuthbert, in turn learning the basics of a technical aspect of Dreams.
When you aren’t creating virtual masterpieces –or really bad Twinfinite logos– there’s plenty to be seen from other creators online.
Some of my personal favorites include Souls-like, a Dark Souls inspired game in which you play as a cat; and a series about a car titled The Offroad Lands which takes a dark turn at the end, leading you into a car-graveyard filled with lots of your presumed lost lives.
On top of this, players can also customize their homespace, a small area where unlockable items and stamps can be placed to decorate it. Homespaces are currently limited in their customization, it would be nice to see more options open up in the future such as item search.
Another feature is Community Jam, an easy way to find popular levels which have been deemed winners in various themed contests. This really shows how many different ways a theme can be interpreted by creators, with some opting for sculptures and others making treasure hunts.
The only real gripes with Dreams after around 12 hours of play are basically down to my own abilities. That said, even when you branch out and attempt to play levels made by other players, many of them aren’t really ready to go yet. There’s just not been enough time. It’s understandable but Dreams is a bit limited right now for all but the super talented, or super patient.
Nonetheless, players should be excited to see what Dreams’ community have made in the next few weeks, months and possibly years, as this should be a game that stands the test of time with a constant flow of user-generated content.
Media Molecule’s Dreams is a finely tuned toolbox for creatives everywhere, but it’s also a toolbox that anyone can access and learn to use with some time and patience.