Dreams Early Access is an early version of developer Media Molecule’s newest creative endeavor. PlayStation faithfuls will undoubtedly recall Media Molecule’s last few games, the LittleBigPlanet series. Like LittleBigPlanet, Dreams Early Access encourages you to unlock your inner creativity and some content of your own. However, unlike LittleBigPlanet, that content isn’t restricted to cutesy 2D platformers. Instead, Dreams Early Access allows you to essentially create your heart’s desire and share it with other Dreams Early Access players. Whether it’s a realistic FPS, a fantasy RPG, or a simple sculpture or setting, Dreams Early Access gives you the tools to create some incredibly complex stuff. That said, is it any fun? Are other people’s creations worth spending time checking out? Let’s see how Dreams Early Access is shaping up.
Navigating the Dreamscape
When you first boot up Dreams Early Access, you’ll be eased into the experience with the calming voice of a narrator. Bursting with philosophy on life and creativity, this voice introduces you to the fundamental concepts of the game. By using a wide array of creative tools, you’ll be able to craft whatever your imagination brings forth. Extensive tutorials teach you both the basics and advanced nuances of the tools, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide what gets made. Luckily, for those who would rather play than build (like myself), you can also browse other user’s creations. If Dreams Early Access turns out anything like LittleBigPlanet, this essentially means an endless stream of user-generated content, where you’re never quite sure what you’ll stumble upon next.
Playing Dreams Early Access takes a quick bit of adjustment time, as menu navigation is mostly handled using the Dualshock’s gyroscopic motion controls. Alternatively, you can use your PlayStation Move controllers as well, which prove to be a necessity in some creative toolsets. After the opening sequence, you’re encouraged to decorate your “homespace”; a physical space of your own to personalize and navigate. From here, you can jump to the main menu, where you can either enter DreamSurfing and DreamShaping, access the Homespace Editor, or review your player profile.
If you’re the kind of person who wants to get deep into the creative process and start crafting your own creation, DreamShaping is the first place to stop. In this menu, you can browse and remix other users’ content for your own use, create content from scratch, and review the long list of tutorials. At first, creating stuff in Dreams can be quite overwhelming. Decorating your tiny homespace in the Homespace Editor is simple enough, especially after the introductory tutorial. However, taking on the full creative toolset without exhausting all tutorials will be incredibly tough, as there are countless numbers of ways to craft your heart’s desire.
Perhaps that’s the most impressive part about Dreams‘ way of sharing and building content as a community. If you have no interest in building a complete playable experience, your creations can still be put to good use. As long as you allow it, other users can take your characters, settings, or anything else you create and mix it into their own creations. By allowing this, several creators can work together on a larger project, producing some truly exceptional gameplay experiences. We’ve already seen this start to happen in the Dreams Early Access community, as experience voice artists offer their talent for dialogue and cutscenes, artists lend their visual touch, and tinkers figure out the logic behind it all.
Luckily, the number of tutorials in Dreams Early Access are as numerous as they are long. I won’t go into too much detail here, but regardless of what you’re interested in creating with Dreams Early Access, the game has detailed tutorials on how to do so. Tutorials play out with a video overlay, which you can effortlessly rewind in case you need further practice during lessons. Overall, the tutorials can be tedious, but you’re essentially learning a complete toolset to make a game. For those simply looking to play other users’ content, a few intro tutorials will suffice.
If you want to explore the creations of others, DreamSurfing is where you’ll want to go. This menu allows you to search through all the user-created Dreams with some decent filters and options. If you unsure where to start, there are a handful of highlighted creations from the developers, as well as filters for the most recommended content. For players who are looking for more specific experiences, say a first person shooter or a 2 player game, there are a plethora of tags and categories to sift through.
It’s tons of fun to sit back and scroll through the never-ending list of high quality and goofy creations, trying out random Dreams on a whim. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to get, especially as you take the plunge into the less-curated content. However, with each passing day, more and more creations are uploaded and shared, providing a truly endless supply of fun. In that way, Dreams Early Access remains infinitely replayable, granted that the community stays active and imaginative. With the tools provided, anything is possible, and people are already making some truly awesome stuff.
Our General First Impressions
Dreams held a lot of promise before it released, and now that this early access version is available, I couldn’t be more excited for the final launch. As of now, all of the tools you’d want to create and share are available; the only things missing are a story-focused mode and virtual reality implementation. Both are promised for the full release, and these two extra pieces of content could cement Dreams as one of the best games of 2019.
Whether or not you consider yourself a creative type, Dreams Early Access is still worthwhile. There are hours upon hours of gameplay content to experience, with a huge variety of genres and tones. For those who want to make their imagination come to life and can handle lengthy tutorials, Dreams Early Access provides an incredibly welcoming way to do so. As is the case with any early access title, only time will tell for Dreams as a final product. However, the early access version is so fun, I can definitely wait for the complete release. If you consider yourself interested in Dreams Early Access at all, I highly recommend you give it a spin.