Out of the gate, Dreams cannot be cropped into the category of being a game, simply because it is so much more. Developer Media Molecule (of LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway fame) has done something so special with Dreams, that I can see people finally being able to live out their creative dreams in a simplified way, free of the overly complicated mechanics of software which is normally required to do so. Sculpting, painting, game development, music composition, level design, engineering, all these are just a small sample of what is possible within Media Molecule’s astounding technical and creative achievement.
From the onset, Dreams encourages you to let go of previous conceptions you had. A short tutorial teaches you the basics, where after you are left to choose your path. This might be overwhelming, sure, but heading into Art’s Dream – the story mode created by Media Molecule within Dreams – quickly gets your creative juices flowing, creating a metaphorical itch that can be scratched with other modes within the package. Going with the theme of “anything is possible,” Art’s Dream blends a plethora of genres during the three-hour campaign. Here, you’ll find levels of puzzle-platforming, point and click, bullet hell, and even action-adventure sections.
Everything was designed with spectacle in mind; art styles, visuals, audio, gameplay, it all feels stylistic.
All this was masterfully done within Dreams by the developer. The story of Art was never meant to be challenging but was made to showcase the visual and audio capabilities possible with the game. Everything was designed with spectacle in mind; art styles, visuals, audio, gameplay, it all feels stylistic – bombastic – even. To say anything more about Art’s Dream would spoil it. With that said, it is something that should and must be experienced.
Jumping into the more open-ended side of Dreams, Media Molecule has ensured a shedload of tutorials for users to use. These range from basics such as sculpting a rock, to creating a rope bridge. The number of tutorials is staggering, yet they all feel like an adventure, leading you into unknown territory with knowledge waiting to greet you. Once you feel comfortable (or have mastered) the basics, you can jump into the handful of Masterclasses available. These showcase the finer, or more advanced aspects, of crafts. Again, the word tutorial might sound off-putting, but these are exciting, and never felt like a chore or time wasted.
After sculpting a few objects, one of with is a rock I am very proud of, I decided to stretch my creativity to more complex concepts. Unashamed of all my failed attempts, I jumped into the dizzying world of the Dreamiverse, a place where other dreamers upload their creations for users to enjoy. With an array of filtering tools, you can search for anything you might be interested in. The Dreamiverse is constantly changing, with new and jaw-dropping creations from all across the globe. Some of the creations on display are awe-inspiring, especially when users create content that can easily be mistaken for something a multi-million-dollar AAA development studio has produced.
Some of the creations on display are awe-inspiring…
Another amazing feature within Dreams is the ability to use the creations of others. Say, for instance, you are constructing a village, but for some reason creating lush shrubbery is not your strong suit. Dreams allows you to search for specific items, in this case, a nice lush bush, created by Media Molecule or other users for you to use in your creation. If this was a simple matter of copying and pasting the item, I would have walked away unimpressed. The function enables you to get the design, plunk it into your world, and if that wasn’t enough, modify it to suit your needs.
If you are more of a traditional player who prefers a straightforward objective, Dreams yet again, has you covered. Your primary cursor is called an Imp, An adorable squishy fuzzball with a cursor attached to his head. Initially, you can choose between only a few, but by completing the My Imp Quests, unlock a more varied amount. The My Imp Quests sets you up with clear goals to achieve; not only does it provide additional content, but it is also a great way of exploring even more of an already beefy package.
Just thinking of everything to do, create, and experience is enough to make your head spin.
Gamers throw the term “replayability” around constantly, complaining about their money’s worth and the amount of entertainment they will get out of a product. For once, in a very long time, this is not a problem. Imagine if you will, a game that enables its players to play a straight forward campaign (Art’s Dream), complete a bunch of side-missions (My Imp Quests), create a limitless amount of content (Dreamshaping), experience the content of other players (Dreamsurfing), and create even more complex content by mashing their own creations with those of others (The Remix). Just thinking of everything to do, create, and experience is enough to make your head spin.
Dreams can simply not be classified as a game alone. It can be a blank canvas, an empty piece of sheet music, an unformed chunk of clay, an open space waiting to be made into something – Dreams can be all of these things, and then even more. Even if you struggle to create something special, the creations of others serve as both inspiration, foundation, and entertainment. A complete creative package, wrapped in a “feel good” package, and presented as an interactive game sets Dreams apart of anything that has been attempted in this genre. Though the controls can be finicky at times, it never reaches the point where it detracts from the overall experience. Media Molecule set out to create something special, and in the end, they’ve exceeded every and all expectation I had.
Dreams exceeds expectations and delivers a vast ocean of endless creativity, simply begging to be explored to its unique depths.