The Dreams: Creator Early Access is one of those things that is difficult to review, as it’s as much of a creative tool as it is a game and since it’s in early access, not everything available in this build is available in the full game. So this review will be based on what the early access version of Dreams has to offer. In Dreams, anything you can imagine, you can supposedly make. Whether that’s a game, animated short, song, or sculpture, if you can dream it, you can make it in Dreams. So today I’ll be going over just how well Dreams lets you do that.
The gameplay of Dreams can vastly change depending on the creation you are playing, so if a creator made a game and didn’t incorporate the controls very well, the game they created isn’t going to play well but on the flip side, if they made a game with a solid control scheme it’s probably going to control great and have solid gameplay. As there are so many different types of creations, there would be no way to review them effectively so I’m not going to be looking at the gameplay of the user-created content. The gameplay of Dreams itself though, and it’s creation tools do take some getting used to. Players use the DualShock motion controls as a mouse or what Dreams calls, an imp. Using your imp in combination with the DualShock’s buttons and motion controls, you can create whatever you think of.
When you want to create something, you dreamscape, which is a menu option that when selected, brings you to a blank 3D canvas where you can paint, build, sculpt, or whatever you want to do. It sounds great but it can really take some getting used to and I oftentimes felt like it would’ve been easier if you could just use a keyboard and mouse when dreamscaping instead of being forced to use the DualShock’s motion controls. With that said, the motion controls worked very well, there is just a major learning curve when using the tools the game has to offer. Dreams doesn’t just throw you right into the frying pan either, as it does make you play through some lengthy and informative tutorials, that are actually as fun as they are informative.
I’m hoping once the full game comes out they add both keyboard and mouse support, but as of right now during the early access they are nowhere to be seen as the only control methods are either DualShock 4 controllers or PlayStation Move controllers. Even with these being the only control methods, it seems like some users have already mastered it and created some real masterpieces including a remake of P.T., the playable teaser for the canceled Silent Hills game that was being worked on by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro along with an evergrowing lineup of truly fantastic custom Dreams.
The visuals in the game represent that of a painting, so they are already great looking in their own right. However, when some users get their hands on the Dreams engine, they make some visuals and games with visuals that are truly mind-blowing to the point where it makes you sit back and just wonder how they made them. For example, one creation that you play can look like it was painted by Leonardo DaVinci while another creation can have realistic graphics and take place in a space station. The diversity of different visual styles found in different creations is truly something to see.
The visuals differ from user to user and their creative capacities . From levels to sceneries to paintings all the different things and visual styles that can be made with the building, sculpting, and painting tools is truly impressive and it really makes me excited to see all the things that will be made when the full release of Dreams comes out.
The Sound Design found in Dreams had a lot of work put into it. In the introduction and tutorials, the music tracks are perfect for that part of the game as they sound like something you would hear at the beginning of a creative journey that’ll spark your imagination. Speaking of sound design, Dreams also comes fully equipped with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and this DAW isn’t just some half baked music maker either, as almost anything that a DAW like FL Studio can do, this can likely do as well. That includes making music tracks with instruments on a piano roll, creating your own instruments, changing the pitch of an instrument, and importing sounds and vocals so you can use them in your music track.
There are a lot of options for you to experiment with in order to make a musical masterpiece. If you’re also the type of person who likes making music tracks with loops, there are a lot of loops and premade instruments from various different genres for you to use as well, and the amount will only increase over time when more and more people continue to make instruments and loops with Dreams’ DAW and share them for remixing and usage. My only complaint about the DAW is once again I wish you could use a keyboard and mouse as I feel like that would make the process of using the DAW not only easier but allow you to be more precise when clipping tracks down to the beats or seconds.
The Potential of Dreams upon its full release really depends on two things: The marketing and support of Sony and Media Molecule along with the continued support of the players and creators of Dreams. With LittleBigPlanet as a series, I felt like it never really reached its full potential and I still don’t really know if that was because of a lack of marketing push by Sony or the fact that maybe players just got tired of playing what was for the most part 2D levels. Even though there was both some really amazing 2D levels and non-2D levels that people created in LittleBigPlanet, the series had its limits. There are a few differences though between LittleBigPlanet and Dreams. One is that you could really only make levels in LittleBigPlanet whereas in Dreams you can make games. So while a really great level would only catch the interest of people who enjoy 2D platformers or already own LittleBigPlanet maybe if people hear about a really great game made in Dreams it might get them to check out Dreams or inspire them to make a game of their own using Dreams. It’s also not as niche as LittleBigPlanet as a game made in Dreams can be just about anything. Dreams has incredible potential, it really just depends on how the game is pushed and how people respond to it. It also doesn’t hurt that Dreams has community creator jams with themes for players to create and enter whatever they want as long as it fits into that theme.
Every week of the Creator Early Access that passes, I feel like the potential for Dreams increases as the creations are becoming more advanced, more original, and more beautifully designed. There is no doubt in my mind that while the support or lack thereof from Sony could either benefit or hurt Dreams longevity, the community and their creations within Dreams will continue to push Dreams to new heights.
Dreams: Creator Early Access will run you $29.99 but if you’re a creator you’re getting quite a bundle of creative tools with Dreams. You’ll be able to sculpt, design, paint, make music, and just let your creativity take over and for the price of $30.00, that’s a steal. You’ll also be able to access an evergrowing amount of created content for you to experience. At this point in the Dreams lifecycle, if you’re not a creator but instead someone who just wants to play and see cool creations the number of good quality creations while limited right now is still worth the $30.00 just to see the evergrowing amount of original creations in Dreams and what creators will think of next. The number of creations is only bound to continue to grow as well. Outside of a handful of really good creations that you’ll replay a few times, you’ll spend no more than a couple minutes in most of the dreams which is a downside but it’s impressive none the less to see what people are making with Dreams especially when you take into account that the creation tool isn’t exactly easy to skillfully use.
Dreams has a lot of potential for both creators and players. When it releases and you’re not a creator and are instead just a player, there will be an ever-growing amount of good quality dreams for you to check out, even if there is only some out right now. For creators if you’re able to wrap your head around the DualShock or PlayStation Move’s control scheme when it comes to dreamscaping, this is definitely worth getting as you are getting a really impressive amount of tools to create your dreams with, whether that’s making music, a playable level, full game, sculpture or a short film. Dreams can really do a lot of impressive things and it’s still in early access which makes me excited to see all the things the full release will offer.