Dreams Hands-on Preview – Unlimited Creation Potential
I've been wondering what exactly Dreams is for years. I've watched trailers, presentations, and yet Dreams is still mostly a mystery to me. I know that it's more of a game-building tool as opposed to a game, which is fascinating, but the options seem so limitless I can barely imagine it.
Media Molecule cut their teeth on game-creator-games with LittleBigPlanet and after three of those games, it was only natural their next project would open up the concept of creating your own levels and experiences even further. That's what Dreams is. It is, frankly, anything you can think of.
For me that's questionable. What can I create? Can I understand the tools the game has available to the extent that even I can create something truly interesting? I'm not sure I ever even made a good Super Mario Maker stage, so making a unique game in Dreams is already a daunting concept.
Luckily, that's why other people are there. People all around the world will be creating games on Dreams and sharing them online for everyone to enjoy, and with a good understanding of the tools at your disposal and a unique idea to put in place, I think Dreams can be home to some truly grand, unique experiences.
I didn't get to see Dreams' game creation tools (probably for the best given my lacking skills) but I did get to play several small demos created by the Media Molecule team themselves. And with these games, we're given just a small sample of the kinds of experiences that can be created with Dreams. In a very short period of time, I went from cautiously interested in Dreams to completely sold.
In one demo, I was in a dogfighting space game, flying around a meteor-filled area chasing four other spacecraft and wildly firing bullets at them. Just seeing the graphics is fairly inspirational for the kinds of games and experiences Dreams can create, but the barrel rolls, aiming down sights and bullets homing in on my enemies made this demo feel better than some demos I've played of full-priced, single-concept releases. It wasn't quite mindblowing, no, but it was shocking to think that the game would allow me to create something like this myself.
Comic Sands was another demo, and yes, I remembered the title because of that pun. In it you walk a small box (yes it's literally a box with legs - I guess it proves you don't have to be a great character designer) through comic panels, sliding behind the frames and to each of the panel on a comic as it scrolls by, learning a double jump, avoiding obstacles - it was a basic platformer, slowly evolving and taking shape. And then suddenly I was 3D and in a desert. Yep, there's the sand, right after the comic. The game changed entirely, from a 2D side-scroller to a 3D world. That was where the demo wrapped up, but it was a fascinating and interesting demonstration.
Finally, there was another demo where everything was a text-based adventure. Playing as a man at a house party, he goes inside, sees people drinking shots, his friends cheating on one another, pyromaniac twins, and an otherworldly horror lying in the loft. Each time he confronts this horror he finds himself back outside of the party as if thrown back in time, and uses his new knowledge each time to approach the situation differently. This text adventure was surprisingly deep and interesting, with more possible outcomes than you would expect. This was a demo of a game creation tool, but it kept me sat at the demo station for far longer than any of the others.
What was most impressive about Dreams was that each of the demos I played presented a different kind of game that could be created, and each of them was shockingly detailed and deep. I'm not sure how one would go about inputting pages of text into a PlayStation 4 to create a text adventure, or how exactly one creates the models, textures, physics and mechanics for each game, but after playing just a small bit of what Dreams has to offer, I'm convinced. Even if I can't create anything interesting, I'm willing to buy it just to download and play the creations of others. On top of that, of course, the full game will come out next year with a story campaign handcrafted by Media Molecule.
Meanwhile, fans should get a taste of Dreams with a beta test available before the end of the year.