‘Dreams’ Is An Ambitious Attempt To Let Gamers Build Something Spectacular

Dreams is an idea gamers have been talking about for years. First announced as in development all the way back in 2012, Media Molecule has put Dreams through quite the development cycle in the years since.The concept was interesting. What if players could make just about anything they can dream of? Most player creation tools are limited in some capacity, but what if there was a game where there was so much to make that the chains of those limits fell off entirely? That was the goal of Dreams.

Now that Dreams has finally had an official release, it’s pretty exciting to get your hands on it and just go. There are some initial tutorials that you need to go through on the creation side, but they’re simple enough and mainly meant to teach you the somewhat finicky controls. The game gives you multiple control options, but the default involves using both control sticks and the Playstation 4’s built in motion control sensor. It can be a little much sometimes to understand, but once it clicks the feeling of building feels very natural and almost necessary to go beyond the twin sticks. The reason for that being that creations are built entirely in a 3D space.

If you’re a player like me that is more interested in playing created levels as opposed to building your own, then you’re likely going to first jump into the Dream Surfing mode. There you will see the creations of the Dream community spread out all over the page. Do yourself a favor and play the Campaign mode created by Media Molecule, too. You’ll travel through a musical adventure with the musician, Art as he lives out a Dream or, in some cases, what can be better described as a nightmare. It’s a cute and fun little story, but it teaches you just what Dreams is capable of. The entire mode was made in Dreams by the creation tools and the variety is stunning. It shows you just how much the most creative players can do. Platforming, a musical number, cutscenes, Dreams has all of it and it’s all available to the player.

All of this is merely scratching the surface of what Dreams can do because, honestly, it’s a little overwhelming and difficult to show what the game is really capable of. Even in the first fortnight since the game’s release there’s just so much content to take in. Luckily, Media Molecule has done a really fantastic job of organizing everything for the players that want to play through other creations. The game creates these categories based on user feedback, and right now there seems to be a strong community forming to help promote good work, not just feeding trolls.

It can’t be understated to just how much is free to the player here when it comes to creating. There is probably a limit to the creation tool, and players will work very hard to find it. But right now it truly does feel limitless. I love seeing the detail and attention that goes into projects, such as this Dreamer who re-created Sonic Adventure.

Letting fans just go wild is exactly what you want to do in this kind of game, but sometimes a creator needs a little push. So Dreams has created what they like to call a Community Jam mode, where they give a topic of some kind and just let the creators go nuts with it. These don’t even have to be levels to play in necessarily, but just creators using the tools to make something like a re-creation of a Pizza Parlor or a short to watch. If you like it? Give it an upvote. More upvotes equal a better chance to win.

The game is impressively stylized, with colorful menus and lo-fi in-game music and tones that never lose their charm. You have a “little” imp that is your cursor as you travel around. The game has couch co-op, something that is sorely missing from most multiplayer games in 2020, and it’s very easy to drop players in and out. Co-op was how I played through Art’s Dream and I had a blast.

What Dreams really has going for it at the end of the day is that it’s fun. You have fun creating a level. It’s fun to play random user submitted levels and it’s fun to play this with your friends. Think Mario Maker, but on a grander scale. Community is at the core of what makes Dreams great right now, and it will live and die with the community it manages to build. But with the tools at hand and the places they’ve already gone with them early on, there’s a chance to build something truly spectacular.