Create anything. Play anything. Be anything. These are the mottoes that the developers of Dreams, an ambitious exclusive title for the PlayStation 4that allows players to develop their own games and stories, have been emphasizing ever since its announcement, even if not in that exact same diction. Currently in early access for select players, Dreams is already ramping up a notable cult following, with its community spouting ideas and creations that rival some of the best indie games available on the platform. And through a remarkably intuitive design platform and extensive tutorials that will make development simple and understandable for both newcomers and experienced masters, Dreams will quite literally appeal to everyone, something that’s perhaps its best trait. And even for those who aren’t too thrilled by the limitless prospects of creativity, there are countless worlds and genres just waiting to be explored created by a community of players and fans who are passionate in their craft. Even in early access, Dreams is everything players could hope it would be and far more, weaving a unique experience that transcends the very definition of a video game itself.
Once first entering the game, the player is greeted to a fantastic introduction of beginner tutorials and charming cut scenes to weave it all in. Taking control of an “Imp,” a mysterious, feathery creature that is quite simply adorable, the player is quickly introduced to Dreams’ widely diverse array of features. From exploring other players’ creations without PlayStation Plus, at least for the time being, to figuring out every nook and cranny buried in the surprisingly deep interface, everything that Media Molecule has cooked up here is a delight, and sharing in the glorious feeling of making your first creation is just as enjoyable, thanks to an extensive catalog of tutorials that are essential for any inspiring “Dreamer.”
Ranging from the basics such as just moving around in the world to creating fully scaled character models, these tutorials take the player in a concise and meaningful manner, never letting the boredom of the over-bearing tutorials from other similarly geared titles creep in. Instead of just being pure hand-holding, guiding the player through every action, Dreams respects the intelligence of its fan base that they will include multiple scenarios that will let the player just wander free with their imagination and these are the scenarios that left the best impression. As expected, I was quite excited to step into actually creating something from scratch, a prospect that drew me the most to the game in the first place. And while I haven’t been able to explore every minor detail that Media Molecule has included as of the writing of this review, I can certainly confirm that Dreams is one of the most intuitive and developer-friendly platforms available right now. By restricting the code and logic of game development to just block programming, it makes developing far more accessible, and it could be the perfect pathway for beginners to really step foot in actual game development with the industry-standard engines of either Unity or Unreal Engine 4.
While there is no denying the scale of Dreams and how easy it is to master, it, unfortunately, feels like a tech demo for the Dual Shock 4 at times. This is something that’s quite simply frustrating to me. For one, this generation is coming to a close, yet Media Molecule feels the need to cram every feature of the Dual Shockinto the experience, including all of the features that didn’t work in the first place. For example, the actual gyroscope of the controller feels hefty at best and at its worst is downright unusable. Thankfully, an option to reset your “Imp,” effectively the cursor, back to the center of the screen was included. If such a feature was not available, the entire experience of Dreams and its interlocking elements would be compromised.
Despite some wonky motion controls, Dreams is a fantastic experience for every type of player. In fact, at times, I completely forgot that I was even playing technically “a game.” It felt like something much more-a community for artists to create and enjoy each other’s masterpieces. When it launches later this year, there is no doubt that Dreams will be a success, but how much of a success is something that can only be decided by Media Molecule. But in its current, early access form, Dreams more than works.