Review by Sophia, aged 11.
- Developer: Media Molecule
- Publisher: Sony
- Release date: 14th February 2020
- Genre: Creation / Anything!
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Reviewed on: PS4 Pro
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
Dreams isn’t a game in the traditional sense, however, it is an extraordinary piece of software that allows you to play, create and share not only games but almost anything you can imagine.
When first starting Dreams you are greeted with an introductory tutorial that introduces you to the basics of moving around the Dreamiverse. Once you’ve learnt the basics you are then set free to do whatever you want. You could create your own dreams in Dream Shaping, play other’s creations in Dream Surfing, or even play a few more of the optional tutorials. These tutorials guide you with step by step instructions, using a video in the bottom corner of the screen. The videos teach you additional knowledge to help make your dream game a reality and it’s highly recommended that you play a few before creating your own games.
Once you decide to have a go at creating your own dream, you are greeted with a blank landscape, ready to be filled with your creations. The many different options can seem confusing at first, but after playing some of the tutorials it will make much more sense and give you an idea of the depth of choice you can find in even the tiniest details of shapes, colours, movement and sound. Once you have a good idea of how to use the controls, it is very easy to create anything you can imagine. I found creating my own games extraordinarily entertaining, as it was so simple to create so much.
However, when creating your games, it highlights just how much thought is required in development by the real game companies. For example, I created a simple platform game, that involved jumping up some steps to reach a door. Despite the simple premise and mechanics, it was extremely difficult, nigh on impossible to complete. A slight tweak to the acceleration of the character on a slider and slightly increasing the size of the blocks by just a few percent made a huge difference, and resulted in it becoming pretty easy. It’s a very fine line between incredibly hard and incredibly easy, and this is one of the challenges you will face when designing your own dreams.
To help players create their own ideas, the game has a library of assets you can use, that have either been made by Media Molecule or uploaded for everyone’s use by other online users. To find them is as simple as typing in a search keyword that can range from anything from a type of specific type of line you want all the way to a full scenic backdrop. The more users the game has to upload their assets, the quicker it will become to find what you need and easier to then make original designs of your own.
The more you delve into Dreams, the more you realize you can do, the deeper down the rabbit hole you go, and the more you wake up to what is possible.
If you’d prefer to simply play games, Dream Surfing allows you to choose from thousands of creations from the community. You could start by playing the main story; Art’s Dream. Art’s Dream is a full Dream created by Media Molecule, built with the exact same system you can use to make your own, and it is a great example of what can be made in Dreams. In Art’s Dream, the game switches between a point-and-click adventure about Art trying to reunite with his band, and a platformer where Art has to rescue his imaginary dragon, Lancewing, from the dreaded Thornbeak.
There is a large, bustling community that has created a wide range of dreams, from simple platformers to entire stories, created by anyone and everyone. If there’s something you want to play, it will most likely be available in Dream Surfing, but games aren’t the only thing that you can find. There’s art, music, even short movies. They are all great examples of what can be achieved in Dreams. For example, I enjoyed a game called Southpaw Cooking. You have a certain time limit to make a meal, but moving your hand and arm around in the game to pick up items to chop/drop/cook/plate up is deliberately challenging and it’s hard to be accurate. So much so, very soon the kitchen is littered with items you have either knocked over or dropped in the wrong place. If, however, you don’t feel like preparing any food, you could simply demolish the whole kitchen with a swipe of your hand. As the game progresses and you have to move faster, hard rock music blares out to give the player a sense of panic – It’s like Overcooked meets Surgeon Simulator with hilarious results.
Another great example is Animal Isle, an homage to Animal Crossing by Nintendo. You can create your own character, and move around the wonderful town aimlessly. Although it is still in development, It’s extraordinary what can be achieved in Dreams.
Accompanying you through your dreams will be an array of different music tracks, from a peaceful forest tune to dramatic boss music. Media Molecule has a very distinctive style of music, but this doesn’t mean that it isn’t pleasant. In fact, the sound in Dreams is beautiful. They can set the scene perfectly and make a boring Dream exciting. However, if you don’t find a track that fits your scene, you can always find sounds from the community or take the time to make your own.
In short, the choice is indeed endless and it’s just up to you to Dream.
Whether you want to create full-blown games, dynamic screensavers, pieces of art, or even just a simple character model, all the tools are here in this remarkable game. It may be a cliche but it is totally applicable here: If you can dream it, you can make it. It may take a while to master and learn how to bring your visions to life, but as seen already from the community, the results can be astonishing.