Like the many woodland critters who tuck themselves away in their cubbyholes over the upcoming Winter period, one of PlayStation’s most promising first-party studios, Media Molecule, have remained quiet on their game for too long. This unbearable silence has at last been broken, with many E3 judges week attendees finally getting the chance to get to grips with the share-and-create game Dreams. It’s ambitious for sure, but is it a bet that will pay off upon release?
Following in the same vein as the studio’s previous IP LittleBigPlanet, there’s no denying that the concept and conceit behind Dreams is sound. Always wanted to make your own game? You can! Want to just sit back and enjoy a near-infinite supply of fan-created levels and scenarios? Go for it! Providing community support is there, Dreams is the kind of interactive experience set to inspire a new generation of videogame developers, providing players with an easy set of “do it yourself” tools which can then be uploaded, shared, and played with.
The title was set to release a beta for certain lucky PS4 owners earlier in 2017, and unfortunately missing this deadline set those looking forward to Media Molecule’s next game into a frenzy. Thankfully such woes were addressed when news from this year’s PlayStation Experience proved that Dreams isn’t just about creating and collaboration, but will also feature a dedicated single-player campaign for those of us that just want to let the imaginative waves wash over us. The best part is that said solo offering was created entirely using in-game tools. Similarly to LittleBigPlanet, with Dreams Media Molecule is practicing what they preach.
I have no doubt that Dreams will astonish and impress for a few months after release, but it’s after that where I find myself concerned. There will always be a subset of players who find it thrilling to spend hours upon hours fine-tuning levels, but with Dreams letting everyone make their own entire games, I wonder if community support will be as driven. After all, part of what puts me off procedurally-generated experiences is the uncertainty of not knowing whether what lies before me will be a worthwhile endeavour. Dreams is a game that will require us to self-regulate what we play, if we’re to find something of equal calibre.
If anything, at least the creation tools present in Dreams seem a little more understandable and intuitive than what LittleBigPlanet. Levels can be crafted using either the Dualshock 4 or Move controllers, meaning that even the slightest detail can be fine-tuned with an exact degree of finesse. Any downloaded asset can be remixed, tweak, and changed, so such flexible control inputs are a smart touch in a game that would otherwise feel samey from time to time.
The name Dreams itself signifies a game that’s full of infinite potential. And while the foundation seems to be thought out and laid down to facilitate such, here’s hoping that when it releases Media Molecule’s magnum opus will thrive of its ambition and circumvent disaster.