Media Molecule famous for PlayStation franchises LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway brings their latest game to the market. And this time around, with an even bigger focus on the creative aspect.
Back in 2019 Dreams got released as an Early Access title for everyone to try out, and the game got fully launched earlier this year. Since the initial launch, the game has gotten a lot of patches, new additions, and overall support which means that the viewpoint I have gathered from this game is based on the current state of the game.
If you don’t know Media Molecule and their previous work, they’re very focused on creative gaming. For example, LittleBigPlanet is focused on a handcrafter world, with mechanics similar to Mario Maker which means you can build your own stages. Their other title, Tearaway is a game built entirely from “paper”, literally.
Explaining Dreams is hard. Because the game can very much be absolutely anything, you can play it as a massive collection of user-generated content – but you can also play it as a creative game. Dreams give you access to an entire gaming engine more or less, in which you can animate, create music, sculpt, etc.
From the start of the game, you’re introduced to the amazing world, or rather, the universe of Dreams. It’s a spectacular opening of the game that introduces you to the different tools, gameplay mechanics among others. Afterward, you’ll get access to your own HUB-World and you’ll be able to do anything.
The content actually in the game is a story mode made by Media Molecule entirely inside of Dreams and the creative mode in which you can create scenes, gameplay, elements, etc. Aside from the story mode, you can also play a wide variety of mini-games ranging made by users. You can find everything from Super Mario, bullet-hell games, Sonic, shooters, and even a Godzilla-type game.
And while I loved every aspect of the game, I want to spend some time talking about the story mode called “Art’s Dream” which is a 3-4 hour long story mode focused on Art, a burnt-out musician that leaves his band because of anxiety and depression.
The story mode takes the player on a journey to rediscover Art and who he is. It takes him back to his childhood, his time with the band and you get to meet a great cast of characters. But my favorite aspect of the entire story mode is that Media Molecule in a brilliant manner goes to a lot of different gaming genres which shows you what the tools of Dreams are capable of.
For example, during my 4 hours playing the story mode, I got to play the following genres: Bullethell, Rhythm, Platformer, Arcade Shooter, Point and Click Adventure, among others. It’s a joy to get to a new place, to take part in the genre, characters, and setpieces.
Another thing Art’s Dream does amazingly is how it handles mental illness. It talks about subjects like Anxiety, Depression, Anxiety Attacks among other things – and it does it well. It’s actually one of the better examples I’ve seen in gaming, and something I relate to on a personal level.
I recommend playing Dreams for the story mode alone because I thought that what Art’s Dreams offered was enough to make me satisfied with my purchase of the game.
But aside from the story mode, there’s also a plethora of user-generated content which is as big of a focus if not more. I had an easier time finding some User Levels than Media Molecule’s own levels at points. (Which is great!)
During my playtime of around 50 hours I’ve played around 150-200 user-generated levels I’d say. And there are some great levels to be found. You can find pretty much anything, the first thing I did was jump into the amazing Super Mario 64 Remake which looks and plays great. But there’s a ton of original content too, the Kaiju level “Ruckus”, and the level where everything is opposite are two that I absolutely adored.
There’s such a wide variety of games, some small and easy, some visual showpieces, some longer games and there are even people creating RPGs simply using the games engine.
But the biggest thing Dreams does is giving you an entire game engine to play with. You can do almost anything with the engine, and you can even go as far as creating movies if you’d like. For example, Noah Cyrus released a music video entirely made in Dreams, which I recommend that you take a look at because it shows the insane possibilities with the game.
While I mostly played games, I dabbled in sculpting, animation, and creating music. And I’ve got to say, my biggest joy was the music tools Media Molecule offered (Which they recently made even better)
If you didn’t know I love playing the piano, and living in a small-ish apartment means I don’t have access to one. It was actually pretty great creating tunes or simply creating sounds simply by playing around in Dreams.
The same goes for sculpting which I think is such a well-made function. Honestly, it’s easier than some of the “real” gaming engines I’ve used in my life.
The place where creative mode goes from great to unbelievable is when you put on the VR headset and the move controllers. In this mode sculpting changes everything, it succeeds so well I’d compare it to forming clay with your hands… If that makes sense. It’s an amazing implementation by the team over at Media Molecule!
The thing that absolutely blows my mind is how well Media Molecule balances all of its content. If you aren’t interested in creating, there’s basically an infinite amount of content to enjoy (Albeit, some content will be garbage, but still), and vice versa.
If you’re into both the creative aspect and the game aspect you’ll quickly realize that the game is made in a manner in which you’ll get ideas and inspiration from both Art’s Dream and the user-generated content, which motivates you to both play games and create.
Although, I do think that it’s worth bringing up that the game can feel quite repetitive after a while. I realized a lot of the current User-generated levels are similar in structure and feeling. I do believe Dreams is best suited as a relaxing game you boot for some creating and trying some levels out in shorter bursts.
I also earned the platinum trophy in Dreams, which I realized was a bigger grind than what I thought it would be. The trophy list overall is fun and wants you to try out (literally) every single aspect of the game. You’ll try every tool, do a lot of tutorials, play and 100% the story mode, play around 100 user-levels among other things.
For trophy hunters, however, there’s a chance that if you only want the trophies you’ll have to do a lot of grinding to reach level 30. For example, when I had done every single trophy except for the Level 30 one I was at level 16.
I also want to say that I really want “Imp”, the cursor in the game, to be a playable character in a PlayStation crossover. I think the moveset could be amazing, with a focus on changing into different characters from the Dreams game – and it could be creative based. I really love the idea of the Imp being available as a character in a crossover game whether karting or fighting.
With new patches coming out to this day, I can’t wait to see what the further support of the game will lead to. For example, I suspect a PS5 port will be coming with further enhancements, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a PC port down the line to further grow the playerbase.