What is Dreams? Well, the simple answer is that it's the latest Sony first-party exclusive, developed by LittleBigPlanet creators Media Molecule. The slightly more obscure answer, though, is that Dreams can be whatever you want it to be. On a basic level, Dreams is a creative sandbox that vastly evolves LittleBigPlanet's toolset – primarily designed to let players make platform-style games – to allow it to be used to make just about anything. Games, art, music, puzzles, short movies, interactive toys... you name it, you can make it in Dreams.
There's no right or wrong way to enjoy Dreams, and the game quickly learns what you spend most time doing and pushes you more of that kind of content. People who just like to play the games that others have toiled over will find themselves getting steered towards experiences similar to those they have rated well or spent a lot of time with, while more passive players who tend more towards taking in all of the artistic creations on display will get similarly curated recommendations. Creative sorts, meanwhile, might find they get more notifications about new assets they might be able to use, similar projects that might inspire their own, or even potential collaborators who could help create something even more special.
As with LittleBigPlanet, there's a real air of charm and artistry to Dreams, with the painterly strokes and often slightly abstract shapes and movements often employed in creations giving them a real dream-like quality – no prizes for guessing where the game got its name from. While there's not really an equivalent to Sackboy in a 'main character' role here, the Imps that serve as your motion-controlled cursor in both menus and many creations come in many colours and styles, and you can even further customise some of them to create an in-game avatar that is truly your own.
The UI and tool set used in creation in Dreams may not be what you'd call 'straightforward', but it's fair to say that it would struggle to be much more user-friendly while still offering so much depth and freedom. It might seem daunting at first, but there are catalogues of tutorials to work through at your own pace, each introducing new concepts and tools while building on the functionality of existing ones. It should only take an hour or so to get the basics under your belt, at which point you can start to tackle the more advanced lessons in whichever sector appeals to you, from shading, lighting and other visual effects that will make your art pop to the complex logic programming that powers most interactive experiences.
Before you do any of that, however, a good first port of call is Art's Dream – a showcase of everything that Dreams can do, created by the development team themselves. In the short couple of hours of this story-mode-cum-demo-reel, you get to see great examples from across the board – wonderful art and character models, great audio and music, fun and varied gameplay, and perhaps most importantly, how multiple Scenes can be combined into one coherent and wholly entertaining gameplay experience. It's truly inspiring in its creativity, serving as a great example to players of the wildly different kinds of gameplay this toolkit can create, and to creators whose interest will no doubt be piqued by some of the 'how did they do that?' moments of the story.
In most cases, though, 'how did they do that?' is not a question you'll need to ask. So long as creators allow it, many projects can be remixed by anyone, letting you dive into the inner workings to see just what makes it all tick. It's probably wise to jump back into the tutorials before doing this just so you know what you're looking at here, although it's a great way for experienced Dreamers to widen their arsenal of options and find inspiration for their own creations.
Every step of Dreams is a collaborative effort. Media Molecule has laid on a ton of assets for those who just want to throw something together, and creators can share their own objects, sounds, and all the rest to help people realise their visions in at least a basic manner without too much stress. And it doesn't stop there. Creators will want to play as many different things as possible to inspire them to push their own limits, players can find a newfound respect for even the simplest of games once they understand how much work goes into making them, while artists can pick up tips and tricks from others to help develop and improve their own style.
This is taken further still by the ability to collaborate with others on projects. Already, there are a ton of great examples of art, gameplay, visuals and audio on offer in the Dreamiverse, and as the frontrunners in those fields start to join forces and work on even more ambitious projects together, the quality of the output is only going to keep climbing, all while the skills of the creators themselves continue to grow as well. It's genuinely exciting to see just how far a dream team of the best of the best might be able to push the envelope of the tool set.
Even if you take no interest in getting involved in the creative side yourself, there's so much to see, do, and explore in the library of existing creations that just letting yourself tumble down the Dreamiscape rabbit hole is a great way to lose an evening, or even entire days. Themed contests and game jams keep the new content coming at a staggering pace, and you can easily follow projects and creators you like to easily return to them again later. Chances are, even if you went in with no inclination to get creative yourself, some of the weird and wonderful things you stumbled upon while Dream Surfing would surely change your mind eventually.
- Limitless possibilities
- Tons of great content to enjoy
- Play and experience the game however you like
- Motion controls can be a touch fiddly
- Quite a few lacklustre creations
- The creative side takes a lot of commitment
Dreams Review (PS4)
Dreams is a unique and ambitious project, and the fact that most of the incredible creations in the game so far were created during the beta and early access periods promises a world of even more impressive works still to come. You simply never know just what you might find next. You could find yourself playing a simple platform game one moment, gazing in awe at a stunningly realised sculpture the next, before having your mind blown by something so complex or jaw-dropping that it doesn't seem like it should be possible for it to have been made in so simple a tool set as this. But it was. It all was. And that, frankly, is astonishing.
While there's a whole galaxy of creations being shared already, Media Molecule's own curation team and the in-game rating system allow you to easily separate the wheat from the chaff. Even those weaker or simpler creations don't reflect badly on those who made them – the tools might be easy to use, but the bar set by the best projects so far is so incredibly high that it will certainly take a lot of practice, time, and experience to create something of a similar standard. And that ever-rising bar just gives other creators ever more to strive for, while improving the experience for people that just want to watch or play. It's a win-win scenario and as truly brilliant and often surprising as Dreams is right now, it's only going to get bigger, better, and more impressive as time goes by.
Whether you want to try your hand at game creation or digital art, or simply want to be part of a talented and welcoming creative community who will always have something new for you to play and enjoy every time you log in, Dreams is little short of a modern masterpiece that brings together a passion for play with the joy of creation in one sumptuous, bottomless package.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.