Dreams review

Release Date
14 Feb 2020
Media Molecule
Sony Interactive Entertainment

Mr. Sandman, bring me some Dreams,



Make it a triple-A, that I’ve never seen,



Give it two modes, for creators and gamers,



Then let it loose to consume all of our left over time from the day and inevitably force us to forget our family and responsibilities.

The first time I loaded up Dreams, I was confused. I had no idea what the game was about, so I’d prepared myself for anything coming my way. Dreams opened up and threw me right into the middle of the complex theatre of user preference setup – analogue controller or move controllers, controller sensitivity, screen brightness, etc. Then I basically had to sign my soul to Sony to give them the rights to make my content creations public.

The excitement kicked in when I got to choose my own imp (humans are easily excitable by customisation, guys). Now an imp is your friend in the game, and you use it to navigate the menus and “possess” or control objects and characters in other people’s creations or your own. But more on that later. Soon my confusion switched to awe when I realised that you control your imp by moving your controller physically up, down, sideways, upside down, barrel roll. This is when childlike wonder fully took over and I sat with jaw agape, listening to the narrator extensively explain the whole world of Dreams.

To make this easier and not overwhelm your already tired brains, I’m going to split this review into two sections – one about the games and gameplay, and the other about creating content in Dreams.

The narrator lady in Dreams gives you a quick tutorial where you possess a triangle man and run around inside of her dreamscape, exploring and getting to know the controls of your character as well as your singular imp. After this, the narrator takes you to the main menu and shows you the different sections where you get to choose your first game to play. Dreams developer Media Molecule has also included their own games for you to play, showing off some of the features that the Dreams custom content creator software (I’m calling it software because it feels right and I’m the one writing this review, not you) has to offer. There weren’t as many custom creations from actual players because the game is so new, and the ones I did play were sadly kind of terrible. But everybody is still learning the ins and outs, so I’ll give it a few months before I try again.

I played the main game, appropriately named “Art’s Dream”. This is a large dreamception in which Art has to return to his real life’s dream from inside his own dreams where he’s chased by his worst nightmare. Don’t think this is a quick run with some willy-nilly placed features, it’s a full on indie-type wonder world that I couldn’t get enough of, all in a beautiful mix of painterly graphics with some more serious rounded off technological puzzle levels. I was hooked.

Now on to the “Dream Shaping”, the custom content creator. To unlock this, you have to do some imp quests to accumulate assets and your very own “Homespace”. Media Molecule has managed to gamify game making, where the more quests you do with your imp the more assets and tutorials you can access to finally create your own Dreams, roll credits. Assets include buildings, characters, objects, and plants. All of them placed inside a menu where you can find Media Molecule’s ready-made ones, plus those you’ve acquired while playing games that have new assets in them – kind of like little rewards for completing tasks within games.

These teach you the basics inside of your dreamscape, before moving you on to full-on tutorial mode using your imp with a video in the corner for a hands-on Dream Shaping experience. It’s like dual-screening a YouTube tutorial, just much cooler. It was VERY frustrating for me in the beginning, however, because I’m used to modelling on a PC with a mouse and keyboard shortcuts, but for someone brand new to 3D modelling it’s not excessively complicated.

Dreams is not only a game, but a piece of media that re-invokes childlike wonder for exploration and creation. It’s a space where you not only can go and enjoy other people’s ideas, but also create your own with no limits but your imagination.
Beautiful graphics and engaging gameplay
Just the right amount of spoon-feeding
Get to be a kid again
Community-created content can be questionable
Requires some time and patience to learn
Can’t lie down on the couch to play
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