Developed by: Media Molecule
Published by: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Reviewed on: Playstation 4 Pro
Once every so often, we see the arrival of games that make it big and captures the attention of many players around the world with its awesome graphics, intuitive gameplay and good game time. The captivating quality of a game determines its worth in the eyes of gamers around the world. This year, Media Molecule has officially launched Dreams on the 14th of February 2020 for the Playstation 4 after a well-received Beta phase in 2018 and early access in 2019. Players who were involved in the early access of the game were treated to early in-game content ahead of its release.
When we were young and new to videogames there is already the inherent curiosity playing along with the games of our generation to always wonder the possibilities that can be explored even until now. “What’s behind this invisible wall?”, “What if my character can do more than this?” “What if this level expands further than the intended finish line?”. Those were some of the questions I used to ask myself when enjoying my games. The questions were left unanswered as I progressed but lingered on with each game I threw myself into. At the end of the day, it was always a “What if…?” question that lingers in our minds when we dream about the possibilities of the game we currently are into.
Dreams has presented us with a platform that enables the player to go beyond that finish line, beyond that level, beyond that invisible wall and see what can be, not what would could have been. Dreams presents itself as a “game” that gives the player the ability to dream, create and experience what ever they can put their minds to. I know that line doesn’t really make sense with how games work, but trust me when I say, if you’ve ever dreamt of doing something in a game, THIS GAME is where you can manifest that dream of yours into reality.
A Dreamy Tutorial To Begin With
The basis of a tutorial is always regarded as an essential beginning for every game. Its no different for Dreams, and by the end of it, you’ll find out that the many tutorials provided in the game were absolutely necessary, as this isn’t a “game” per se. Players will start off with a brief introduction as to what Dreams is, a vast dream landscape filled with opportunities, adventure and excitement for the many players (including you!) to be “DreamSurfers”. As you progress, you are introduced to a set of Imp’s; furry little puffball-like creatures that you take control of and are the sole navigation aspect in your game. You can position your Imp anywhere on the screen by moving your DualShock 4 controller around (if you chose the motion control scheme). The imp is customizable, and can possess characters featured in a dream, allowing players to take direct control of these characters. The art of possessing another entity/character will be widely used in this game, as you are free to possess almost anything you see fit to be a playable character on screen. The tutorials take you through the very basis of creation in the game. Players initially learn to create and manipulate shapes, move them around, use them to traverse the landscape and eventually it will lead to tutorial assessments for players to complete to progress further to other tutorials.
The beginner tutorials are meant for players to understand the foundations of Dreams but there are more tutorials not meant to overwhelm but to really guide and unlock the creativity of players. Once a few tutorials have been completed, players will soon get a picture of what’s to come in the game. The aspect of building one’s dream will be the highlight of the player’s experience if that’s what they wish, as there’s almost no end to how you can shape your dream to be. Create shapes to your liking, link places with bridges to how you see fit, prepare your character a landscape to thrive in. At the end of the day, the Dream Shaping mode teaches you how to successfully create a place where endless possibilities can take place. Want to build a level with a racetrack on it? No problem. Want to create a jungle with tall tree’s which you can swing from? Hey, go ahead! The game’s tools are almost limitless. The only limit is your own creativity. So, get creative and build up a world you dream of and port it out for other “DreamSurfers” to enjoy!
The Story Mode in Dream
The game includes a very interesting “story mode”, if you could call it that. Media Molecule tailor-made a dream that acts as a story mode for Dreams, and the amazing thing about this dream, is that this was made entirely with the set of tools available for every other Dreamer. This dream is called Art’s Dream. First things first, this story was amazing. Movie level storytelling, voice acting, and in-game music lift the mood of the story to amazing heights that no other kind of game has ever brought before, and all made with tools available to players themselves. I enjoyed the immersive storytelling of this game as you control your imp to make in-game decisions, move levers, possess other characters and also choose dialogues for your character.
You play as Art, a double bass player for a jazz band. Just as the band is at the pinnacle of success, Art is stricken with doubt and re-evaluates his self-worth in the band. He abruptly leaves the band and spirals into a dark place, stirring problems and turmoil around him. Through his dreams, we set out to uncover his past and dig Art out of this hole that he’s found himself trapped in with help from some of the creatures in his dreams.
There were two different sets of dreams that we travel in during this intervention adventure for Art. The first involves Foxy and Francis, the furry duo who is tasked to save Art’s imaginary childhood dragon, Lancewing. Then there’s D-Bug and Ele-D, another duo with a more futuristic twist to their looks that will need to save a robot that is dear to Art, named Root-R. Together, both Lancewing and Root-R will help Art in uncovering his inner feelings towards his passion for music and take back what was once his.
The gameplay between these two dreams are almost similar. Both characters have their own traits which players can exploit based on the given situation. For instance, when playing with Foxy and Francis, Foxy wields a huge hammer that is able to damage enemies with its wide swings. Francis, on the other hand, shoots flying discs at range to take on different types of enemies. Both of them have different abilities that will either make or break a certain situation. Foxy is able to do a ground smash with her hammer which can also help in smashing barriers or items that are otherwise immune to normal attacks. Switching between these two characters using your Imp is key to get yourself past such situations and help you progress in the dream. On another hand, D-Bug and Ele-D are two robots with a different set of skills. D-Bug has the ability to roll under small crevices and charge electrical platforms. While Ele-D is an elephant-like robot with a trunk used to suck obstacles out of the way, or to pick up smaller objects and fire them with projectile-like speeds. Both these robots work the same as Foxy and Francis, switching characters to get through obstacles and enemies.
The minute details which the dreams exhibit give off a very bright, colorful and neon-filled experience which not many games tend to capitalize on. Although the story felt a bit short, it was jam-packed with a quality creation, awesome ambiance with the music and sound and the evidently immense creativity of the team over at Media Molecule that created this story from scratch. I urge everyone to play this short “story mode” before you engage in every other mode the game has to offer. It definitely shows off to the players of the capabilities of the tools they are given and hopefully inspires them to create something equally as awesome as this.
Diving Deeper into the Dreamiverse
Playing the “story mode” and exploring the tools in Dreamshaping is just scratching the surface of this game. The true gold mine in this game would be exploring other Dreamiverse’s created by players from around the world. My initial thoughts were of simple levels with platforming would be about it for other Dreamiverses, but oh boy was I wrong. The amount of detail that has gone in almost every creation by other Dreamers is so vast, it is like a whole different game by itself at times. I was absolutely stunned at the variations each Dreamiverse contains, and your choices are almost never-ending.
Every Dreamiverse created will be available to the community to play and try out themselves or even with friends. Every type of game you can think of, the Dreamiverse variation of it will surely be available to play. From exploration games such as Skyrim to Fallout, racing games such as Mario Kart. The very similar Dreams variation of it will be there. Heck, even a rendition of Hideo Kojima’s infamous P.T can also be found in Dreams, albeit with the obvious difference in certain aspects. I never got around to playing the original P.T when it made its debut on the Playstation 4 years back, even until the day it got taken down from the Playstation Store. To be able to experience it in Dreams, with its own quirky looking graphics and its seamless ability to look almost exactly like the original with the tools and engine in Dreams made something that was once lost come back to life in its own way which is truly magical and awe-inspiring. Even though limitations of the in-game tools do limit the playability to such an extent, the rendition of the game is almost spot on and gives me a sense of wonder as to the oblivious fact we sometimes fail to realize, there is a whole wide world of creative people with vivid imaginations and resolve to create something amazing to share.
Many other renditions of famous titles have also been recreated in the Dreamiverse for the community to enjoy. With the ability to share their experience through multiplayer in almost every other Dreamiverse, there is literally nothing stopping you from having hours of fun with friends in a plethora of different scenarios and genres. As an advocate for creativity, Media Molecule throws a Community Jam event every once in a while, to entice players into creating specified-themed levels/dreams. This event will require players to create a Dream under certain rules and regulations to test out their world creation skills, and finally, add it into the roster of community created Dreamiverses. Other community members will be able to try out these levels and give out votes to the ones they liked the most. The player with the best Dreamiverse at the end of the event will be awarded a badge on their creation page and gain recognition for their hard work in the community. An ever so effective way of showing their appreciation towards creativity, also a good way to encourage others to be better and invoke better quality Dreamiverse’s as part of the community.
My Only Worry
There is really nothing negative I can say about Dreams. Absolutely nothing has gotten in my way of enjoying this game and experiencing firsthand the creativity the community has poured into this game creation tool. Maybe for some, including me, I found it overwhelming at times due to the amount of stuff I was able to tweak and create. There were even more complicated tools as you dig deeper into the Create Mode of the game, even sub-tools can be found from the initial tools you use. Mind you that the game does a pretty good job familiarizing you and walking you through every aspect of your building performance. The more advanced tutorials will be very useful for players who wish to know more about creating and tweaking their Dreamiverse’s at a more advanced stage.
There was also the fact that the motion controls of the DualShock 4 were a point of question and confusion for some at certain points of the game. I think these qualms I had were pretty personal to me and it may not affect other players severely. Surely all these issues will be negated as you rack in those hours creating and building, coming to a point where the controls and camera movements won’t seem to bother you any longer. But for first time players, it might be a task they would find daunting in the beginning.
This game is an experience of a lifetime. No other game has brought the same love for creation as to how Dreams did for me. Sure, you have simulation games that come close to detailing what that particular simulation caters to. But a game that caters to almost everything you can think of AND allows the ability to create, play and share those creations at the same time? Nothing comes close to Dreams. My own wish was to have seen Dreams come sooner to the PlayStation 4. With the approach of the next-generation PlayStation coming pretty soon, Dreams should have had more time in the current community. With that time, the amount of community added features, game improvements and developer added features would have been fantastic for the game. Even in 2020, Dreams set a standard for many games out there. Creativity is only limited to what you THINK your mind is capable of doing. This game has proved that what YOU think, may never necessarily be the same as to how OTHERS think of it. By combining the creativity of others and yourself, the capabilities can be near endless, given the right tools and possibilities, and Dreams provide you those exact tools and possibilities.
- Vast choice of tools and flexibility of creation
- The homemade story mode was very good and engaging
- An absolute blast exploring DreamSurfing mode, very community-engaged activity.
- Fine-tuning of the controls might need getting used to at first.