How do you review something like Dreams? You can’t, not in the traditional sense anyway.
Dreams is an ever morphing mass, a creative community always shifting and growing and being unique. Each and every user will connect to the Dreamiverse (Media Molecule’s big concept) in different ways, wanting different things and walking away with a different take.
What Dreams May Come
I have suffered with a condition most of my creative life. From school to now I always want to ‘do’ something. That something always escapes me, either the painting in my head is nothing like the art I produce or worse still life goals just never get it into the box. That was a soccer euphemism. My condition is the age old struggle of Ambition vs Ability.
Dreams is bringing out the worst of that in me.
The absolute worse thing is that Media Molecule know it and even in their first opening moments they mention your doubt. They even introduce your Doubt into the learning cycle, making it an interactive challenge. Not condescending, but I can’t listen to the sugar coated ‘not quite James Corden’ voiceover guy telling me it’s okay again.
I bought and paid for the Early Access version of the game. That was sometime last year and while I was impressed I knew there was more to come. This full release has not being disappointing, the team have obviously been beavering away. The game and I use the term loosely. Has been polished, controls tweaked and some sensible Quality of Life updates have been thrown in. The interface has had some love and now being able to connect, share, borrow and interact with the community at large is easier than ever.
The community is where the game will win, Dreams has an immense capability, but the users are taking it way beyond. It was bad enough in Early Access, fumbling with the tools for days while others were posting videos of their incredible creations. I have to keep reminding myself that I have a demanding job and a family to attend to, I can’t spend hours tinkering with something. Especially when my effort is going to be crap anyway.
Remember the first week of Early Access, I was just about getting a pyramid to sit square on a cube. Then, somebody uploaded their intro sequence to Spiderman PS4. Devastating.
We are not even a week into release and the community is shining bright, the Dreamiverse (An interconnected easy access inter-web of other Dreamers) is thriving. While some of the better efforts are straight from the Media Molecule stable there are some stunning efforts. Take Boxcar Rally for example. A slippy, slide isometric rally game, which looks and feels like a budget game from a small studio. Dreams has the chops to make the aspirations of bedroom wannabes come to life.
Not forgetting how the next person can dissect your creation, add to it, tweak it or reuse some components. The bigger the scope of the community, the wider the ocean of possibilities.
Field of Dreams
What’s under the hood is too encompassing to detail. Paint tools, sculpture tools, sound tools, logic systems and more. The Team at Media Molecule have taken the seeds of customisation offered in Little Big Planet and ‘Universed’ them. It will take time and familiarity to become accomplished for anybody below a savant level of giftedness, not forgetting the drama if you bounce off to play something else for a week. Some people will be happy exploring other’s creations, some people will find them overwhelming. Then there are the Curators, people that are cataloguing other Dreams, collecting them and making them easier to find. The others like me will go round and round not knowing where to start.
Controls are well planned and thoughtful, they work well in context depending on the scheme you prefer. Whether its the Dual Shock or Move Controllers, each have there strengths, but here’s the rub. The main on screen UI is interacted with an Imp, a colourful splodge that acts as your pointer. I have spent almost fourty years interacting with a keyboard and mouse. If Dreams allowed me that luxury, I’m sure the 3d space would make so much more sense to me. Then, you’d be in trouble.
It has to be said, the team at Media Molecule are their own biggest fans. I had the fortune to bump into a couple of the guys at PAXAus last year. We had a few chuckles at my incompetence and they gave me some insights at the improvements. What was a great takeaway from the conversation was how inspiration comes from anywhere.
I have yearned for a PSVR climbing game since the muted release of Carnival Games a few years ago. A good, solid rock wall to scramble up. I still believe this is my calling in Dreams. While chatting to the guys it was nice to see the lightbulbs popping on how it could be achieved. That is the beauty of Dreams, you might have an idea that the next person hasn’t, but they will know how to do it.
Dreams is offering a new take on a social platform, a sharing and co-operative experience. As long as you don’t have a big day job, family to feed, dogs to walk and Bills to pay. I guess.