Dreamy. That’s, fittingly, the best word I can choose to describe this brand-new game from the creators of LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway.
Dreams is the latest adventure from the award-winning Media Molecule. As a huge fan of LittleBigPlanet as a kid (and indeed, as an adult), I wasn’t sure what to expect from my playthrough. I had to wonder – could Dreams live up to the charm and delight I felt as a kid, bouncing through the colourful, patchwork levels of LBP?
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GameByte was lucky enough to play Dreams in 2018, so the game had been vaguely on my radar for a while, not JUST because anyone who knows me knows of my love for artistically striking games, but because of the hype the team had felt.
But would the beautiful screenshots I had seen be enough to win me over? I was about to find out. The second I walked into the event, my fears were gone. It was magical – the space was filled with LED lights, softly glowing clouds and sky-high meringue towers, making me feel as carefree as I did in 2008, hiding away in my blanket fort and booting up my PS3 past my bedtime.
The event began with a demo from the Media Molecule Dreams team on how to build levels. The dev team worked their magic, making waterfalls come crashing down and wispy clouds swarm at the top of giant, rugged mountains. You could even play around with physics to get realistic gravity effects and apply different textures to brush strokes to accurately mimic landscapes, like making light reflecting on water.
Taking audience suggestions, it was clear that the game really was limitless. By the end, the team on stage had brought their canvas to life – ducks were swimming around in rippling ponds, cows were roaming the land and the custom-made music was soaring. If you loved the level creations in Little Big Planet, or even the complexity of Super Mario Maker, this is the perfect title to let your imagination run free. Whether you want to create games, music, paintings, animation, sculpture, movies or anything in-between, Dreams truly is an extraordinary digital playground where anything is possible.
Then it was time to play. There was a rush for the consoles as anticipation grew from the crowd. Nobody knew where their adventure would take them and the hype was real.
The game burst into life with a swarm of gorgeous particle effects, asking me if I wanted to play Community levels, or Media Molecule levels. I closed my eyes. Aimed the controller. And then asked the dev team which one I should play first. They, unsurprisingly, said theirs. And they were right to do so.
What was immediately noticeable was the game really WAS as strikingly beautiful as the screenshots made it out to be. It was able to get across the child-like wonder of dreams in colourful swathes of broad brush strokes. Thick acrylic-like paint morphed into detailed, 3D characters, filled with charm. But the game isn’t all colour and wonder – as the narrative developed, it was clear that Dreams could be used to tackle hard hitting topics, such as heartbreak, loss and mental health in delicate, but still funny, ways.
The level I played followed two stuffed toys, brought to life by an imp (a charming green fellow which you use to interact with the world) and sent on a rescue mission to save the protagonists childhood dragon. Child-like wonder, mixed with cynicism and touches on mental health, it was clear that Dreams wasn’t just a fun sandbox game, but a game that could truly be anything.
In case you didn’t know, the game is described as “a space where you go to play and experience the dreams of Media Molecule and [its] community.” They give you the chance to discover community-made games from around the world and learn to make your own extraordinary, ever-expanding game universe. As I moved onto the community levels, this was made even more obvious. Dreams’ only limit is your imagination, but not in the same way as LBP.
Dreams will really let you run wild with your creations with its beautiful, striking art style. Anything is possible. The sheer variety of levels already from early release showed off the limitless possibilities – someone had made a horror game, someone had made a platformer, someone had even recreated Pelican Town from ConcernedApe’s Stardew Valley. The change in graphics and play style really highlights just how far you’ll able to go in Dreams. Every time I chose a level, I felt as if I was playing an entirely different game.
But Dreams is so much more than “another game by the girls and guys who made the cute Sackboy game”. Dreams is a standalone classic in its own right. For those who were fans of the Level Creation in the Little Big Planet series, or more recently, enjoyed the complexity of Super Mario Maker, your dreams are about to come true. Dreams gives you the opportunity to unleash your creativity and bring your ideas to life with innovative, easy-to-use tools, then share them with a global community.
Dreams releases today (14th February) exclusively on PS4. Will you be spending Valentine’s Day making your Dreams come true?
Featured Image Credit: Media Molecule