It’s finally here. After 7 years of waiting, Media Molecule’s elusive Dreams is finally out in the world.
By now you’ve read, seen or heard lots of people define Dreams. I could try to as well, but I find definitions constraining and boring. However, some kind of description must be made in order to get a grasp of just what this beast is. The only thing I can promise is to get the technical and descriptive part out of the way as fast as I can, so I can wax poetic about the heart and soul (and there’s a lot of it) behind Media Molecule’s(MM) newest adventure.
At it’s core Dreams is a social creative software suite. However, what makes it so special is that it’s the social creative software suite. 2D Painting, 3D sculpting, texturing, lettering, animation and rigging, lighting, camera work, DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), visual-based coding, free asset store and social platform are all rolled into one tightly knit, super affordable, Katamari-like amalgam that’s ready to go in your PS4. If you want to create something (with a few exceptions, like a Massive Multiplayer Online game), odds are you can make it in Dreams. The tools are robust and easy to pick up, with several control schemes available and fun, engaging and varied tutorials which will be added to throughout Dreams’ life. Make no mistake, as with any creative tool, you only get out as much as you put in, so be ready to dedicate some hours until you feel accostumed to them. Nevertheless, I will go out and risk my neck by saying there is no creative tool which offers as much as Dreams does and at such a low price (39,99€).
Well…. but how do I play Dreams???
In my honest opinion, one of Dreams’ greatest strengths is that you’re not forced into a specific playstyle. You can go as deep or as shallow as you want. Want to just sift through the Dreamiverse’s creations as if browsing through Youtube or another platform as a content consumer?? Go ahead, watch/listen/play to your heart’s content and drop likes and follow your favorite creators. Want to carefully curate content and organize it in easily accessible collections for yourself or other users? MM has considered that option as well. Want to dedicate your time to one specific creative endeavour such as music-making or sculpting? Sure, fill the Dreamiverse with your wildest creations. Want to make things purely based on other people’s creations? It’s as easy as searching for what you want and dropping it in your own creation. MM has carefully considered all of the ways in which you can interact with Dreams and rewards the player with experience points and new Imps (the in-game avatar) for all their actions, as well as giving you titles based on your favorite manner of interaction.
If you truly wish to grasp the creative potential that Dreams opens up to all of its players, there’s no better place to start then with Art’s Dream, the collection of levels created by MM for the full release of the game.
Art’s Dream is a 2 to 3-hour romp through the troubled life, childhood memories and dreams of Art, a double-bass player with a guilt-ridden past. MM pulled no stops when tackling this short campaign. In its short duration, I went through a rollercoaster of emotions, from sadness to happiness, nostalgia to hopefulness and laughing out loud to feeling angry at some of Art’s decisions. The campaign is colourful, fun, artistic and plays like an impressionist dream offering varied gameplay and art styles. One moment you will be guiding Art through dialog trees in a point and click adventure where you use your Imp to interact with the environment and solve puzzles. In the next one you will be activating buttons and fighting off hordes of enemies with the power of rock in a quirky platformer. You’ll drive, jump, fly, dance and sing your way through what ultimately is a concise yet very satisfying campaign.
Art’s Dream is, for the moment, the ultimate showcase of what Dreams can do. It’s leagues above the content that is currently in the Dreamiverse and it should keep that title for the foreseeable future, as it was created by a talented team of developers with years of experience in handling the tools. Nonetheless, it has been astonishing to witness the fast evolution of Dreams’ community as it expands. The Dreamiverse is currently filled to the brim with noteworthy creations and I have surfed it for countless fun-filled hours every week. MM has done a wonderful job with supporting and incentivizing the community by hosting weekly themed community jams and even hosting an award show for the best creators and creations in the Dreamiverse. Every week there are new things to see and do, teasers and demos for long form games/projects are released, and the community is extremely supportive and welcoming to newcomers. I feel it won’t be long until Art’s Dream is supplanted by the community, and I can hardly wait for that moment.
The greater role of Dreams
Here we arrive at the crux of what makes Dreams such an unparalleled achievement in the history of creative efforts, let alone video games. It is democratizing the power of creation, making it accessible to everyone. It incentivises failure, learning, exploration and collaboration. It is creating and shepherding a whole new generation of creative people, giving them a new voice and inspiring them to do things they would never do. It’s enabling the creation of things that would otherwise never exist, and it’s doing this with a warm and kind light heartedness and a smile, as if it was the most obvious and simplest thing to do.
Dreams is a technical marvel, yes, and anyone that is even slightly interested in creating should buy it, however, it’s also a human marvel. Dreams is the father and son sharing stories and creating a game based on them, it’s the pro-coder sitting with his PS4 creating tools that will save other people from an innumerable number of hours and headaches. It’s a group of friends fooling around with their controllers and bringing private jokes to life and creating memories. It’s a team of people coming together from all around the world and taking their first steps in what can be an enriching life path and even a career. It is a door into a world of inspiration, wonder and amazement. It is all of this and more, and its journey has only begun. Dreams is humanity at its best and I couldn’t be happier and more excited about any other game’s future.
In a world filled with so many amazing games, Dreams stands as a one of a kind experience that is most definitely worth every single cent and more. It juggles so many moving parts in a miraculous way and brings it all together in a fun, challenging and content-filled game that promises the impossible, yet already delivers on so many fronts. I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone with a PS4 and even the slightest creative inclination. Keep dreaming, dreamers!