The spiritual successor to the popular Fashion Boutique series on Nintendo DS, Fashion Dreamer has been much anticipated by its fans. As a newcomer, though, I’m left with mixed feelings. There’s a lot to like here, but there’s also a serious case of style over substance.
Fashion Dreamer starts out well. You’re introduced to the game’s unique world, a series of interlinked pathways that lead to a number of key areas. Dotted around the world are Muses – other characters ready to be re-styled by you. You’re inundated with tutorials as you start playing, but they do a decent job of getting you up to speed with the basics. You’ll also be tasked with completing some basic quests that introduce you to Fashion Dreamer’s main mechanics. So far, so good.
The trouble is, once you’re done with the introductory tutorial, you’re more-or-less left to your own devices. There are no regular quests for you to complete, and no real structure to play. What you do is up to you. For some players, that’s the perfect scenario. But without any goals to work towards or semblance of progression, I quickly found I lacked motivation to keep playing.
Ultimately, Fashion Dreamer is all about creating outfits. You can combine existing pieces of clothing to create the perfect style – here called a ‘look-it’ – or you can design your own pieces. The designer is rather basic, however, with the main focus simply being changing the colour scheme of an existing blueprint. But there are hundreds upon hundreds of items to choose from that you’ll collect over time, so there’s scope for endless unique outfits, which feels nice.
There isn’t much challenge involved in getting new items: I assumed you’d have to buy them, but no: simply interact with a character and ‘like’ an item of their clothing. Voila: it’s yours. Building up a bursting wardrobe is a doddle, then, and it’s nice to have a wide choice right off the bat. But it would have been nice to feel like there was some work involved in acquiring them. Especially considering you do earn in-game currency as you play – but this is mainly used to buy furniture in your showroom, and when designing new clothes.
Onto your showroom: you have a small area where you can essentially create your own clothing store, kitting it out with various decorations and showing off your favourite outfits. You’re not limited to your own designs here: you can showcase anything you’ve collected, which feels like an odd choice. But I suppose the onus is on you if you simply want to show off your own stuff.
Fashion Dreamer has both an online and offline mode, which both operate pretty much identically. When you’re offline, all Muses you come across are random CPU characters, which task you to create look-its for them based on a particular prompt. Maybe they’ll ask for a certain colour, a particular style or the use of a specific item. You’ll be rewarded based on how well you match their request, as well as how stylish your selection is in general.
In online mode, however, you’ll also find Muses of other players. You can restyle these Muses based on a player’s inputted likes, and you’ll be similarly rewarded. The real draw of online mode is being able to share your designs with other players, and similarly having access to clothes designed by others. You’ll find way more clothes to add to your wardrobe when playing online, so it’s worth doing – even if loading times are a little slower thanks to having to factor in the online server.
Creating outfits is hugely entertaining. If you’re the type of person who spends far too long in a game’s character creator screen, you’re going to have a whale of a time piecing together outfits in Fashion Dreamer, making everyone look their absolute best. But that’s about all there is to do here. Sure, showing off your own designs in your showroom can be entertaining, especially if you’re playing online. But a serious lack of substance and any semblance of challenge really lets the experience down. Playing dress-up is a fun and relaxing way to pass the time, but if you’re expecting anything more, you’re going to be disappointed.