Exclusive to PS4
Dreams release date: TBC 2016
Dreams beta release date: Coming early 2016
When Media Molecule, best known for its Tearaway and Little Big Planet series, announced its latest game at E3 2015, everyone was left wondering what it was all about.
Was it a potential clay-moulding VR experiment, or the full realisation of the Create Mode in Little Big Planet?
Well, thanks to a behind closed doors presentation of Dreams at Paris Games Week, I now have the answer. Sort of.
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The game is still in its early stages, but a small gaggle of Media Molecule developers gathered to talk a small group of media through its next major project. It’s not just an experiment after all.
Instead, Dreams is the ultimate creation game, taking seeds from the creativity exhibited by Little Big Planet games and going right back to where it all started with games like Sim City. But Dreams can be so much more.
It all starts out with an imp. In this case, it’s a little orange fuzzball with a crudely drawn face and a little antenna with a glowing orb atop its head. You can draw on its face however you see fit, with his mouth movements mimicking your own. Media Molecule assured me that this will be perfect for communicating your ideas to future Dreams players.
The imp acts as a glorified cursor in the game, with his orb being used to interact with the world, dragging, moving and placing items. That’s all done by moving the entire DualShock 4 too, rather than simply moving the analogue sticks – they’re used for tool selection and other functions.
You’ll also use the imp to possess characters found in Dreams – whether that’s the simple bear shown off in this demo and during the PlayStation Showcase at Paris Games Week, is entirely up to you and your future Dreams players.
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In this demo, it all started simply enough, with the imp tasked with moving some blocks out of the way to reveal the door behind. Everything is designed to be totally interactive in Dreams: the imp’s antennae stretches out with the heft of dragging heavier items, while the lighter ones can be spun around by its bungee cord-esque deelie-bopper. Even opening doors is an event, with the simple push of a button replaced by a more satisfying grab and pull by your imp.
The doors will swing open to reveal an entire new Dream, or another world within a single Dream. Like Little Big Planet, each dream world is only limited by your imagination – and potentially artistic talent and a whole lot of patience.
To ease you into the creation tools, Media Molecule envisions the game having some sort of campaign mode or at least a raft of Media Molecule created dreams to get you started with a semblance of a story. Although, this won’t take the form of a separate entity to the rest of the Dreams experience.
The development team want the game to seamlessly blend the three core pillars of Play, Create and Share within the Dreams experience. There won’t be any returning back to the title screen to move into another mode, for example.
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As for those creation tools, Media Molecule has confirmed the game will support both the DualShock 4 and the Move Controllers. However, the latter is much more for the serious artists out there, as seeing one of the game’s art directors create a new version of the bear puppet was like watching a real life version of Fantasia.
Although I’ve not be able to try it out myself, it seems the game still allows you to be very precise using the DualShock 4 in this way. I’ll probably have to wait until the beta to believe that for myself.
Tearaway Unfolded certainly reinforced the fact I can’t draw for toffee, so it’ll be interesting how this control system works out for the less artistic among us.
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But, despite concerns about my own artistic talents, it seems like Dreams has some serious potential for creators. Rather than thinking about polygons, the way to think about creation in Dreams is that you’re working with clay. You can mould, indent, layer, squash and everything else you can think of with a physical piece of clay in Dreams.
Of course, with a tonne of tools at your disposal, it’s a lot more complicated than that, with the ability to change the smoothness, add animations and a tonne of other features that will probably take a while to get used to.
But to begin with you’ll be able to mess about with other people’s creations, with the game offering the ability to search for particular users as well as certain items, if you’re particularly fond of a person’s style or abilities.
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Everything you see in Dreams, as with Little Big Planet, has been created using the same tools that are available to you. It’s going to take people a long time to master them, but I’m keen to get started.
I feel like Media Molecule is attempting to make Dreams the game to end all games. It’s capable of so much, building racing sims, adventure titles and more, with the only limitations being your own ideas and skills. Whether it’s going to be a huge hit will be down to how much time people have to put into it.
But, it’s a powerful beast and stunning to look at, and I can’t wait to get started.