Media Molecule’s mission statement for their wondrous gem LittleBigPlanet was “Play, create, share”. Now, with the long-gestating Dreams, they’ve turned that credo up to 11. Maybe even 12.
So, what exactly is Dreams? At it’s simplest it’s actually both a creativity tool and a play tool – with a whole lot of sharing thrown into the mix… Hmm, considering the opening paragraph, that wasn’t very helpful, was it?
It is very much what Dreams is though, its just the degree to which it actually is what it is that makes it something rather unique and truly special.
Dreams is very much a thing of two distinct halves, which are headed ‘Dream Surfing’ and ‘Dream Scaping’. Fairly self-explanatory, the former allows users to check out creations from other ‘Dreamers’ around the planet, while the latter is for those who want to get their creative juices all over everything.
After selecting your little DualShock or Move controlled friend – or ‘Imp’ – for this journey into the unknown, a hub screen allows you to dive into various things. There’s the surfing or scaping, as well as a ‘Community Jam’ section where weekly challenges are laid down to make something to a certain theme – or just play what others have done, there’s no judgement in that respect. A section for some of the ‘Dreamiverse’ community’s highlights is also present, along with your own customisable homepage.
Looking at Dreams as a creation tool, that which you can actually concoct borders on the mindboggling. While its introduction claims that you can create anything you can imagine, we wouldn’t quite go that far, but it does come fairly close. There are limitations – in particular within the sphere of game making – when compared to the likes of Unity, Game Maker Studio and such, but neither of those are nearly as easy to jump straight into and get going.
“Just because you can make games with Dreams, it doesn’t mean that you have to.”
Because of this ease, if you do wish to use this for game making – or even as a stepping stone for getting your head around the many concepts involved – it’s a good and very welcoming starting point. Dreams is packed with inbuilt, narrated video tutorials. These can sound a tad condescending at times, but then they do have to cater for a wide range of user experiences, from total novices of any age to those who already know a thing or two. They guide the newcomer in any direction that they wish to pursue creatively – from making art, animation, sound and music via a series of powerful menus, through to actually gamifying your art if you wish.
If you wish? Yes, for just because you can make games with Dreams, it doesn’t mean that you have to. As a music composition tool it cuts a lot of the need for technical knowledge that other software-based tools require, and the same goes for creating simple – or quite complex – art, characters and animations. We expect to start seeing music videos that were created solely in Dreams any time now (if they’re not out there already). We were initially concerned about the ‘Made in Dreams’ watermark that we were seeing on everything, but with MM being the awesome people that they are, naturally you can turn it off.
But what if you’re not the creative type? No matter, for ‘Dream Surfing’ could theoretically keep you busy until the end of your time. Or at least as long as you pay your power and internet bills. Before its final release, Dreams was around for many months in an early access format, which allowed keen beans to get in and create all manner of marvellous toys for players to do their thing with. From recreations of existing things ranging from Mario and Sonic adventures through to the likes of Red Dead Online and Fallout 4, this section is a showcase not only of the immense talent that exists amongst the Dreams community, but also the power of it as a creativity tool.
Another great way to ease into witnessing the power of Dreams (why do we suddenly have an irresistible urge to drive a Honda?!) is by playing through the included movie-length marvel that is Art’s Dream. This tale of a jazzman sends us through several styles of gameplay, while also demonstrating all the other abilities – visuals, sound etc – that Dreams is capable of. And yes, it was all built in-engine. A joy to behold in so many ways, it will inspire creative types, and captivate those who just wish to play.
“A joy to behold in so many ways, it will inspire creative types, and captivate those who just wish to play.”
If you decide to dip your toe into creating with Dreams, one thing is certain, and that’s that it’s an amazing tool with a depth of potential that’s scarcely had its surfaced scratched yet. Even if you can’t use it to release your own standalone games, if you’re interested in pursuing such a dream it’s a good starting point for nailing the many basics – and a brilliant way for kids to learn programming concepts. Or, if you just dig static art creation, for example, use the community to hook up with, say, a muso and an animator and collaborate using your strengths. It won’t bring about world peace, but from our experience so far, the Dreamiverse is a pleasant place in which to hang.
Meanwhile, if you do just wish to enjoy the works of others, for the price of just one game you get access to literally thousands, with new ones dropping almost every minute. Plus, there’s still PlayStation VR support to come…
So, no matter which way you look at it, Dreams truly is an Imp-ressive package! (Sorry.)
Dreams is available now exclusively for PS4.