Shaun Munro Reviews Dreams …
Nowadays, a budding director can pick up their camera phone and go shoot a movie with a little sophistication, but the entry barrier for aspiring video game creators is a bit higher, especially for regarding console development. Those big enough to remember Sony’s Net Yaroze consumer development kit may remember the modest stab needed to offer money-rich hobbyists the opportunity to encode their PS1 games, and almost a quarter of a century later, it appears that Sony it may have finally realized the full democratic potential of such a bold concept of “tools for the masses”.
Media Molecule Dreams it only costs a fraction of what Net Yaroze did at launch, benefiting naturally from our richly developed digital ecosystem. As such, players can not only effortlessly upload their own games, short films and designed works of art, but as is its distinctive feature, enjoy the content created by a thriving and passionate community that seems triggered to ensure that the Media Molecule’s dream is fulfilled with enthusiasm.
We are still in the early days of Dreams, although the game has been in Early Access for almost a year before its correct publication, but it is evident that the constantly evolving product is an incredibly special game, a tool and, above all, once in a generation experience.
Little big planet the developers promised Media Molecule Dreams that players could actually create anything they could think of; if you want to build a clone of a classic video game complete with music imported from the game itself, you can do it. If you want to recreate a scene from a classic film with a nearby art and shooting selections, it is possible with some degree of impressionistic verisimilitude. And if you simply want to paint a beautiful image to send to the vibrant community, you are warmly invited to do so.
It is difficult to imagine a game of this generation, and perhaps never, that encourages creativity with such a breadth of permissiveness, because the colossal suite offered to the Dreams the community certainly creates an unprecedented fusion of accessibility and complexity.
It is fair to say that most players are unfamiliar with Gamedev’s details will to be left somewhat discouraged from their early hours by Dreams“Dream Shaping” mode – even with a wide range of tutorials available – and speaking as someone who bought the game primarily to play others’ creations, this was certainly true for me.
Once you are dealing with the game’s wide range of menus and submenus, however, the granularity with which the creations can be carved and adjusted is absolutely mind-boggling, especially on a “dated” console like the PS4. Dreams it contains incredibly deep subsystems for players to create complex logical routines and animations, create scenes and music and perfect virtually every aspect of an art form imaginable.
I have not yet ventured far beyond the creation of a simple platformer, but as demonstrated by the astonishing pot of the game of user-created content already on offer, whose resources can be remixed by any player for their own utility, the sky is close enough to the limit for those who are quite busy and creative.
The beauty of Dreams in many ways it is absolutely worth the admission price even if you never worry about trying the authoring tools. The “Dream Surfing” mode is actually the largest jukebox in the world of games and experiences and, since they are all created within the game’s own toolset, none of them takes more than a few seconds to load.
I lost count of the times when I fell into what I call the “Dreams Hole”; that is, moving from a piece of content created by the user to the next, immersing himself in the glorious, silly and sometimes hilarious creations that people have presented to the masses. The fantastic menu and search system also allow players enormous control over the content shown to them; if you just want to browse a collection of the most popular games, you can do it, while if you want to see a series of short films or non-gaming works of art, even that is as easy as a few quick press buttons.
My hours of browsing through the visions created by others have brought me so much joy and charm; I have played surprisingly impressive recreations of games as varied as they are Sonic, Mario, Wipeout, Fallout 4, portal, and even superhot, while I met brilliantly imaginative platformers in my own right, I saw disturbing short films starring Shrek and Humpty Dumpty (just to name two), and I looked at the wonderful painted paintings with a relaxed air.
Immediately outside, you are gently pushed to play through the mini Art’s Dream campaign created by the Media Molecules themselves. A forward-looking and creative music video game that revolves around a besieged double bass player who tries to regain his rhythm, is a fantastic demonstration of what the engine of creation is capable of – having been entirely made internally, of course – even if the short Play time may leave a little desire to have more content curated by the developer.
This is a fussy little game that is obviously so tense to convince players to create and discover content on their own, and after playing Dreams since its early access period, it is hugely encouraging to see how quickly the community has already grown.
Few could have been accused of worrying that the game would quickly become a landfill for semi-finished demo demos and little else, but there are already many perfected and complete titles available on the platform – my personal favorite is the ridiculously addicting sports shooter Bowling with Guns, which that’s exactly what it looks like.
This makes it difficult to fear it Dreams it could simply be another promising left-wing field title that quickly loses it to the player base, especially with several potentially revolutionary developments on the horizon; Media Molecule will be patching PSVR support in the near future and already has the game running on PS5 hardware.
Dreams it could easily have been a cute but silently overwhelming game that came and went at the end of the PS4 life cycle, but in the end it is one of the rarest games that lives up to its extremely ambitious premise and a prolonged development cycle. It may be the largest and most democratic pledge to creativity that video game support has ever seen, and it looks like we’ve just scratched the surface.
+ The creation suite is extraordinarily complete.
+ A practically unlimited amount of user-created content.
+ The extraordinary visual effects push the PS4 to the limit.
+ Wonderfully imaginative campaign.
+ Excellent menus and presentations.
– Some may find the creation tools too overwhelming.
– The campaign could be much more substantial.
Reviewed on PS4.
A retail copy was purchased for review.
Shaun Munro – Follow me chirping for more baffled video games or email me here.