Dreams is an ambitious sandbox overflowing with creativity.
No matter how hard I tried, I could not stop going back to the Dreams booth at PSX. The new project from Media Molecule, set to arrive next year, is a tool just as much as it is a game. Everything we’ve seen so far has been created in game, with the same set of tools that every player will have at their disposal. Create worlds, characters, music, movies, or simply play what’s already there for you. Equipped with a campaign of three interwoven stories and an endless amounts of custom content, there truly is no limit to what can be done in Dreams. Watching the developers play and discuss their creation floored me. Full of charm, life, and bursting with colour, Dreams is shaping up to be something we’ll be talking about for years to come.
During Media Molecule’s PSX panel on Saturday, I got to watch a world be created right before my eyes. As the team behind the game discussed how to build worlds, make music, share and explore, I got to watch all that in real time.
Truly a blank slate, Dreams’ creation options are optimised for anyone from amateur to expert. The beauty of this system is that it caters to your strong suits. Fancy yourself a musician? Don’t worry about levels and characters — just make music! More of a film producer than a game designer? Put together some detailed cutscenes. Whatever you feel you excel at the most, Dreams allows you the canvas to create.
If you care for a bit more narrative, there is a three-part campaign to play. Featuring a diverse and wonderfully detailed array of characters and settings, these stories range from a noir-style point and click adventure to a bright and colourful world right out of a children’s movie. Incredibly, everything you play through in those stories is created using the tools the player uses. You can even pick out and remove parts you like and drop them into your own world.
Dreams is so utterly beautiful and different that it’s nearly impossible to talk about it enough. The passion and love the developers put into the game pours out of their hearts and you can hear it in their voices when they speak about the game. I expected great things from the people behind Little Big Planet, but what they have created is above and beyond anything I’ve seen in gaming, maybe ever.
As a person who is closely tied to music, the options for musical creation in Dreams really stood out to me. They’re incredible — you basically have an entire studio at the tips of your fingers. Seeing how you can make the level affect the music was stunning. Touching a certain object can trigger a new instrument for example, or getting to a certain location can alter the pitch or rhythm. Music is deeply interwoven into games, and it’s a massively important aspect of game design that is often overlooked. But here, in Dreams, you get to decide what it means to the game. Sharp contrast or perfect harmony? You decide how your world moves.
The boundaries of Dreams seem to defy existence. From the ability to create an isolated little sculpture to a fully-functional world with characters using dialogue that you give them, there is no end in sight for how far this game can truly go. It’s a game I desperately want to see succeed because of its pure innovation and spirit of its creators. There were jokes at the panel about how game design companies could arise from Dreams, and I don’t think that’s a far stretch. With the hope for VR integration later on as well, the ability to walk through yours and other players worlds is something I can’t even fathom.
Dreams defies logic as easily as it defies description. It’s part studio, part game, part art project. On paper and during demos, nothing about the game looks displeasing. With ease it could become a mainstay on Twitch, with people gathered around to watch someone create a vision; a front row seat into an artist’s mind. What Media Molecule is doing is giving us the ability to be kids again. They’re handing us that sketch pad and saying, “don’t give up, keep pushing”. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. Become the artist your childhood self always wanted to be. Creativity goes beyond your mind; it needs expression that is tangible. Dreams is the medium through which ideas can be shared, worlds can be born, and stories can be written. No matter your confidence or your ability, Dreams gives you a place to stand. A daunting yet gorgeous, all-embracing, peerless place to stand.
Dreams is set to release on PlayStation 4 sometime in 2018.