On February 14 2020, something incredible happened. Something so incredible in fact; that its brilliance somehow managed to remain under the radar for a few weeks on release.
I am talking about Dreams of course, a community gamer/budding game designers dream(no pun intended). We have seen this premise promised before with LittleBigPlanet, which interestingly enough is made by the same developer: Media Molecule. In Dreams however, the developers completely eviscerated the 2D platform template restraints which avid game designers wrestled with so furiously before.
Dreams dons a much friendlier user interface amid a myriad of creation tools which have paved potential for, well, just about anything you want. Calling it a game is quite frankly underselling it, it is so much more than that. Now, I’m not saying you are going to make a new AAA game, far from it in fact, but you may make something beautiful and inherently unique nonetheless.
All of this can seem quite daunting; and it is to some extent; although the tutorial levels and cutscenes implemented within the first 20 minutes of the game leave you painstakingly sucked into the Dreamiverse(the name for the in-game hub where user-generated content is stored).
Initially there are some forced tutorials which aim to ease you into the swing of things. They make it very clear they are not just going to leave you in the dark.
Everyone has an… IMP
You will be using your imagination using a cartoonish teardrop shaped cursor controllable with thumbsticks, DualShock 4 motion control or PlayStation Move remotes. All are completely viable methods of control, in the end, it is whatever you are most comfortable and apt in using.
Dreams aims to give players a god-like vibe by giving you the ability to breathe life into just about anything, even your cursor is animated and pulls various different facial expressions as you navigate haplessly through the tutorials.
You may find yourself spending a good three minutes deciding which colour IMP to choose. All of them display widely differing expressions and don different colours. I opted for a deep purple one that looked sad, because, well, I liked it.
If you feel that creating scenery, characters or a working game is too challenging of a task to undertake solo, you can release dreams as a work in progress(WIP) and ask other dreamers to come and contribute to whatever your creation is. This of course opens up the possibility of somebody having completely different ideas to you, but such is the case with group projects.
The beauty of creating aspects which can be used in scenery is that somebody else can use your creations within theirs. If you create a light fixture, snappable to ceilings, somebody may use it in a first person horror game. Get good enough and you may start seeing your creations used left right and centre.
Just let me play already
So creating games may not be for you, or at least you fancy a break from tweaking, snapping and creating different scenes. Perhaps you’re just a tad overwhelmed and just want to kick back. Well, once you have completed the tutorials, you have the option to peruse the dreamiverse and ‘surf’ through other user’s creations.
The main hub aims to help you navigate through the drastically vast plethora of dreams on offer by categorising dreams into different sections. In terms of created games, you can pick up platformers, racing games, shooting games, hack and slash and fighting games. Anything you can think of is possible, so long as you or somebody else has created it.
In my experience with Dreams, I hopped onto a ‘Super Mario 64’ remake in which the only thing to do was to run around and constantly batter your mind with the ultimate question “Could I make this?”- the answer to that is completely up to you.
Other dreams in the carousel also grabbed my attention such as ‘Wario commits tax fraud’ and other blatant memes. The beauty with that is, you can make them too. It is completely mind boggling where your mind can take you, and sometimes, its just as boggling to see what somebody else has come up with.
Although Dreams was in early access since April last year, its utterly astonishing to see what it has become, without the need for Sony aggressively marketing it, and as such, I believe that has aided it.
Dreams is a game that prioritises community and because of this, it has amassed a large one. If you enjoyed playing LittleBigPlanet or just fancy something against the grain, then this game is for you.