Home » ‘Dreams’ Review: Media Molecule’s Next Level In A Social Network of Imagination

‘Dreams’ Review: Media Molecule’s Next Level In A Social Network of Imagination

by Marc Kaliroff

After seven years in the making, the nightmare is finally over. Yes, Dreams on PlayStation 4 is exactly what you would want from a Media Molecule hypercharged fever-dream that dabbles into an excessive world of creative possibility from more than a locked two-dimensional perspective. It is a genius social network of imagination and creation that could potentially give way to a new era of environmental artists, character designers, sketch artists, game testers, and young dreamers across the globe- but once again I say that is only a possibility. As goes for all games that take on the difficult task of acting as creation tools, the main question is can the dreams general audiences have even be brought into fruition with Dreams? Will a new line of players be able to create like never before or will the pros thrive and the newcomers strive again?

As all artists know, brining an idea into creation is never easy- especially when accounting for technical specs and limited control options. Although Dreams may be a game engine designed for limitless artistic creation, it is not simply a tool every one of all ages can pick up and instantly use to its maximum potential. It takes time- a lot of time for that matter- to study and learn the ins and outs of its system that can exponentially grow more complicated depending on how ambitious a user may be. For those who played Media Molecule’s premiere PlayStation 3 series LittleBigPlanet, you may think you are going to be partially prepared for what’s to come in their latest entry due to prior experience with that series, but you probably are not. Like LittleBigPlanet, creating individual levels and custom games can become overwhelming and complicated the farther you reach into the game’s ocean of creatable mechanics. LittleBigPlanet’s creation tools from the last generation of PlayStation look primitive when compared to Dreams, yet the learning curve of creation surprisingly still remains similar despite the presence of a massive visual and hands-on technical gap.

In the same regard to LittleBigPlanet, Media Molecule and the exponentially growing community are supplying newcomers with hundreds of simple custom pre-made tools, templates, and online tutorials so they can grasp the larger picture. It may take dozens or even hundreds of hours to completely understand, but once you learn how to fully utilize the creation tools within Dreams the gateway of imagination unfolds instantly. Is it a game creation tool? A painting studio? How about an architectural program used to design environments? Maybe even a music creation tool? What about a tool used to create storyboards for short films? Dreams is quite literally whatever you want it to be. Art is used to express our imaginations in a multitude of forms and Dreams is just a component of doing so- a very well designed component that caters to its variety of audiences. It is by far the deepest video game creation tool to date that can be manipulated in all sorts of ways. Video game creation alone is an entire rabbit hole of genres, visuals, and play-styles that users can manipulate to their liking.

Dreams smartly allows you to collaborate with other users to create a single project.

Creating a game, soundtrack, or sculpture does not always have to be a single-handed effort though. Dreams smartly allows you to collaborate with other users to create a single project. When the project is published, all users involved can be credited for their work- one neat detail I have personally seen so far was a bunch of users who added their PlayStation Network names to the introduction of a western-inspired short film they had collaborated on. Alternatively, for those lone wolf visionaries in need of spare parts or help, you can download other users’ elements to add on to your own creations whether that be a texture, character model, game templates, or even a piece of music. Ultimately this builds a social network of constant benefits where even the best of the best are constantly helping each other create better content at a more efficient rate.

The one major issue with a focus on user-creation is, of course, the future and single-player cutbacks. Determining whether Dreams will continue to thrive in content or slowly dwindle entirely depends on the community’s persistence and Media Molecule’s future support of the title. Several community projects are gaining traction such as multiple Sonic Adventure recreations, an open-world Avatar: The Last Airbender title, and PS1 reimaginings of modern titles like Death Stranding, but how long can this all last? While you dig through surpluses of unfinished projects and tech demos, it is hard to not think about whether the game will fall into the same line as the LittleBigPlanet and Super Mario Maker series where finding great creations can become excessively harder as time progresses. Those gems and amazing spectacles you will often come across though will always fuel your excitement and passion for other users’ projects.

For those uninterested, in creating their own worlds or playing other users’ creations this title will absolutely not be for you as the game lacks any real single-player focus. While Dreams does provide a campaign mode called ‘Art’s Dream’, these series of scenarios and levels that play similarly to a cinematic movie only lasts roughly around two to three hours. It serves more so as an inspirational experience for what you can fabricate in the game’s creative portion rather than a spectacular globe-trotting replayable adventure that Media Molecule has previously developed in the LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway series. Even the campaign’s description on its menu states that the story was intentionally made to inspire others rather than serve as a full-blown narrative.

Dreams is absolutely something not to sleep on.

The campaign jumps from genre to genre and contains a well-written story to coincide with its gameplay, but it never comes off as anything jaw-dropping or something worth running home for. It is extremely enjoyable and partially even memorable at times, but compared to what Media Molecule has pumped out in the past it comes off as more so disappointing, to say the least. It certainly is not replayable and contains no post-game or post-completion specialties that are worth revisiting. It serves its purpose, but in the long run, it is nothing more than an added in tech demo to showcase what Dreams is capable of from the finest creators at the developer’s studio. As someone who adored LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway for their heartfelt stories, it was difficult to not constantly think about what could have been had Media Molecule expanded upon this standalone adventure, but considering how well put together the rest of Dreams is where its core focus lies, it is difficult to truly complain.

Contrary to where we may experience the title’s name most prominently, Dreams is absolutely something not to sleep on during the PlayStation 4’s final days of new content before the dawn of a new era begins this holiday season. Whether you are the person who is determined to give rise to a crazy three-dimensional platformer that has been bouncing around in your mind for a while, create food showcases that will cause an insatiable appetite, orchestrate an ’80s inspired retro soundtrack, or perhaps even critique other users’ creations, Dreams is absolutely worth the investment from whichever angle you are coming from. Whether you plan to purchase it now or down the line, the amount of content available- and what will be available- from both Media Molecule’s core team and its userbase is endless.

Media Molecule envisioned Dreams as a massive community shared tool that would give rise to new developers and artists working in the industry. The developers have spoken out about recapturing the LittleBigPlanet fanbase that quickly evolved from stick to rope over time. They have talked about the possibility of allowing developers to sell their creations individually in the future. They have been uploading tutorials every day to help their community. They have been constantly taking in feedback and working with players to make Dreams more accessible to the public. Will Dreams be able to reach the vision Media Molecule strives for it to be? Time will only tell, but I can say that for those looking to express their ideas through this particular service, you should do yourself a favor and give it a shot. The worst you could possibly do is inspire others to dream bigger. As long as Media Molecule does not allow this title’s community to fall apart as LittleBigPlanet had, the Dreamiverse will never grow into a nightmare.

If you want to browse some creations within Dreams made by Media Molecule and the community before picking up a copy of the game, you can visit the game’s official social networking website indreams.me.

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