When you enter the world of Dreams, you’re hurtling into a universe of creation. This latest title from Media Molecule, creators of Little Big Planet and Tearaway, is not simply a game! It’s a world of possibilities. Will you be a consumer of Dreams or a creator, or perhaps both? The choice is yours, but one thing is clear – Dreams is a rich and expansive universe, limited only by the reach of imagination.
Media Molecule has been working on Dreams for seven years, and it shows! The experience is polished and the scope is immense. When you first enter Dreams, you’re given an option of whether you’d like to surf existing games and creations – also known as Dreams – or whether you’d like to create your own. As an avid gamer, I immediately leaped into the Dream Surfing mode, where I could explore the games and experiences on offer.
The Dreams platform is a cornucopia of user generated content including games, artwork, and audio visual experiences. The sheer number of experiences available to sample is a little overwhelming but the home screen makes it easy to jump in, with Netflix style carousels of trending and recommended Dreams. There’s also a search function where you can filter by a number of criteria such as category, tags, most thumbs up and more.
Most of the games I played were bite sized. For example, I played a very cute 3D platformer about an adventurous sloth called Pip Gemwalker, which has 7 levels and can be finished in under 30 minutes. In the same gaming session, I also played a cow racing game, a murder mystery, a fantasy rpg and much more. The games were light and fun, but for the most part they felt like prototypes and lacked polish. This was also noticeable in level design, with some platformers I played not quite walking the right line between challenging and frustrating – a precise art that’s honed through experience and design iteration.
While the user generated content often does have an amateur feel, it doesn’t detract from the overall Dreams experience. Choosing what to play in Dreams is like selecting a chocolate from a seemingly infinite box, if you don’t like one you can simply try another. In this way, Dreams feels a little like the YouTube of gaming. There’s a lot of content, some of it is great and some less so, and it’s very easy to spend a lot of time exploring the rabbit warren of experiences. I’d imagine that the available content will also grow and evolve over time as more people are introduced to, and get involved in, the Dreams community.
If you find yourself feeling creative and want to dip your toes into content development, you can enter the Dream Shaping mode and start building your own Dreams. As pioneers in this arena, Media Molecule have been given a difficult challenge to solve in designing simple and powerful tooling using a controller. It’s a new experience with a steep learning curve, but it’s clear that Media Molecules have put a lot of thought and care into the control schema. They’ve also created a series of fun tutorials to ease you into the process of creating your own Dreams.
I think the path from beginner to proficient is likely to be a long one. After following a few beginner tutorials I found myself managing to place, rotate and resize game elements with rough accuracy, but I didn’t reach the point of feeling entirely comfortable. I was using the PS4 controller as my control device, but it’s also possible to use the Move controllers. I’m not sure if this would help with precision, but I suspect either tool would require a significant time investment. I did however get the impression that the tooling is very powerful, and that someone who has put in the hours would be rewarded with the ability to rapidly build and test out rich worlds.
Whether you’re a Surfer or a Shaper, or a combination, Dreams delivers a rich and polished experience. As a surfer, you’re bound to find a game or an experience to match your mood and style in the vast river of Dreams. If you just want to chill, listen to music and play around with fractal visuals, you can find that on Dreams. If you want to join the creator community, there’s plenty of assistance to get started in the form of tutorials, templates and regular community jams. With Dreams, Media Molecules have created a platform that is extremely unique and innovative, and I think it has the potential to change the face of gaming.