DREAMS: Early Access Impressions

Media Molecule’s highly anticipated game, Dreams, is now in Early Access on the PS4, and it’s unlike any game we have seen on that console. You could compare Dreams to other games that let you create and share like Little Big Planet (also a Media Molecule game), but no games on the PS4 let you go as far as Dreams.

Dreams: Early Access is also a pre-order, so anyone who has it will get it at full release. I think this was a really cool move for Media Molecule and Sony to do. After my time with it, I would have pre-ordered Dreams even if it didn’t come with Early Access.

Keep in mind for the rest of this piece that Dreams refers to the game and dreams refers to player creations within the game.

The Dreamiverse Opens

Dreams opens with a soft voice walking you through the beginnings of the “Dreamiverse”, where Dreams takes place. Like most Media Molecule games, the intro gets your imagination and creativity ready for what lies ahead.

Soon after you witness the beginnings of the Dreamiverse, you pick your “Imp.” Your Imp is, basically, you. It’s a little fluffy ball with an antenna on its head that you use in most areas of the game. You control your Imp with the motion controls using the Dualshock 4’s lightbar. Once you understand how to control your Imp, the voice encourages you to chase your first idea. You use an object called “Connie,” which is a cone with arms and legs, to chase the idea. While this part was simple, I felt myself getting excited the closer I got to the idea. As I moved through the environment, the voice got more excited to see me succeed. It felt like I was chasing something important, and I wanted to know what was lying ahead.

The voice congratulates you once you catch the idea and drops you into the main hub called the Homespace. You can customize your Homespace with your Imp. It is similar to Little Big Planet, but Dreams will let you go much further than just stickers. When the game fully releases, you’ll be able to place objects and build things to make it truly feel like home. I could not experience this part of the game because it was not available during Early Access.

The Homespace [Photo Courtesy of MediaMolecule]
You get around the Homespace just like you did in the intro, by taking control of Connie. Once you have had a chance to walk around the Homespace, the voice tells you to check out the two main focuses of the Dreams: Early Access period; Dream Surfing and Dream Shaping.

If You Can Dream it…

Dream Shaping is the place to go to create whatever dreams you can come up with… literally.

In Dream Shaping, you can create things as simple as a rock texture to things as awesome as entire games. You can create character models, songs, animations, voiceovers, movies, 3D art sculptures and, from what I can tell, anything else you want. You can build things from scratch or use creations made by other players within your dreams. The only limitations your creations face will be your imagination.

Thankfully, Dreams doesn’t just drop you into Dream Shaping without help. Dream Shaping has tutorials that help refine your dream creating skills. I found myself skipping through the early ones as they were too easy and slow. Learning how to do simple tasks like place objects and move through the editing mode bored me. Despite, this, I didn’t have a problem with the pace. The tutorials are set up in a way that allows the player to go through them at a pace suitable for them. You can rewind tutorials, skip through them, or skip a section all together.

You Can Dream It Tutorial 2[Photo Courtesy of MediaMolecule]
I don’t suggest you skip the tutorials if you want to be serious about creating awesome dreams. After completing the first set of tutorials, I thought I was ready to make some cool stuff. I was wrong.

My plan was to recreate the scene in God of War where you first meet the World Serpent. I was able to create a decent looking portion of The Lake of Nine using other players’ objects like rocks and ocean landscapes. I could not figure out how to do anything else. My knowledge was limited to the few tutorials I had completed. Things like learning how to create animations and how to customize character models were in later tutorials. Needless to say, I went back to the tutorials to learn more about the things I can do in Dream Shaping. I am taking my time to learn the things I skipped before to make my God of War scene as awesome as I think it can be.

I don’t love using the lightbar’s motion to move and place blocks. It left me with oddly placed objects after last second twitches. I found most of the other controls to make sense, but the lightbar felt like MediaMolecule’s not-so-great version of a computer mouse.

…You Can Do It

Once you have finished your dream, you can upload it so everyone in the Dreamiverse can experience it in the Dream Surfing mode. Dream Surfing is where you can play other players’ games, watch their movies, and see all other types of creations they came up with. I spent the most amount of time in Dream Surfing because I was in constant awe of the dreams people were making.

One of my favorite Dreams was called “Fret Star.” This player’s dream was a clone of Guitar Hero. While it was odd to play with the Dualshock 4, I found the songs in the game very catchy. I could not stop playing this game’s two songs to try to get a better score than last time.

Another dream, “Please Hug Me,” almost had me in tears. You play as a small block with arms and legs, clearly just wanting a hug. You run up to a group of huggable cones to get one, but they run from you. In your quest for a hug, you chase these cones off the side of the tiny map where they fall to their death. I am not sure whom I was sadder for, the terrified cones, or the lonely block who just wanted a hug.

Please Hug Me [MediaMolecule]
I was most impressed by the “P.T. Demo” dream that many people shared on social media.

One of the issues I encountered with Dream Surfing was the frame rate. While not in all dreams, I encountered several frame rate drops while playing different dreams in Dream Surfing. Another issue I found was, in some dreams, the wall textures moved while I moved around the map. I am not sure these issues were specific to dreams I played, or if it was an issue with Dreams: Early Access itself.

So When Is This Thing Coming Out???

I was constantly feeling relaxed and in awe of Dreams during the time I’ve had with the Early Access. I experienced tons of amazing dreams in Dream Surfing and I can’t wait to experience more in the future. Dream Shaping is a mode unlike any other creation mode that lets you create anything you can dream of. My only issues with the early access were technical, but they did not negatively impact my experience much. I feel like I can’t say enough good things about this game. I’m excited to see this game when it is finished as well as all the things people will create.

Dreams is set to release later this year. Click here for more information on the game.

Zandt Durham

I love video games, my cats, and my fianceé (not necessarily in that order). Here to report on, review, and play some games. I main Ganondorf in Smash Ultimate.

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