mrcaseyjones's Dreams Creator (Early Access) (PlayStation 4) review

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They do come true (Early Access version review)

When Dreams was announced for an Early Access release in mid-April 2019, I took that day off work. Having missed out of the Beta and the videos of people's creations filled me with wonder and envy; I knew I'd caught the creative bug.

Dreams comes from Media Molecule. Unlike their make-your-own side-scrolling game LittleBigPlanet, Dreams is completely open ended. If you ask, "could I make _____ in Dreams?" the answer is always: yes. Could I make a penguin? Could I make an animation where the penguin flies to the moon and sets up an old-west themed lemonade stand? Could I make a game where aliens come up to the lemonade stand and the penguin has to fulfill as many orders as it can in 3 minutes and the high score is added to a scoreboard that's saved outside the game? YES!

When you start a new creation in Dreams you're greeted with an empty void in 3d space (and a flat platform for a starting ground, which you can delete if you don't need it). Creating a cube and modifying it to look like a house is simple using the Sculpture tool. Paint it red, add some smoke coming out of the chimney with the Brush tool, put hinges on the door so it opens using a gadget from the Logic menu, add a creak when the door opens with the extensive sound library, or plug in a microphone and record your own. Place a pre-made puppet down that the player can control, dress it up, add a keyframe from the Animation menu that opens the door when the player hits a button, and there, you have a little scene.

Using the Dualshock 4's gyroscope controls (or Playstation Move controllers) to move a little character called an "imp" (a cursor made to look cute) creators can tweak, place, copy an object they've made, or pre-made objects other Dreamers have made, into their game. Or animation. Or static scene. There is no limitation as to what type of experience, or Dream, you can create. Some users specialize in creating music using the extensive audio tools built in. Others make life-like faces meant to be viewed like a bust in a museum. The only limitation to what is possible is how much time creators want to invest in their project. A game on the scale of Skyrim wouldn't be impossible, simply a large time investment.

Seeing an empty void akin to a blank canvas can either be intimidating or exciting, maybe a little of both. What do you create if you can create anything? Where do you start when your options are unlimited? That's up to you. Some might feel like it's too much. Good news, there are so many things to see and play in Dreams that you don't need to create anything. There are already so many talented people creating games and experiences you don't have to even look in the direction of the easy to follow tutorials accessible from the main menu. Inversely, you don't have to spend one second with another person's game, animation, music, etc. Dreams is about choice.

Having a background in graphic design, I consider myself fairly creative, and Dreams has been a wonderful outlet to get my ideas from my head and into the world. I've made simple arcade-style basketball games, animations of a digital version of me mimicking Youtubers, to a series of first-person mazes where I mock the players from the sky (where I actually recorded my voice for others to hear, something I thought I'd never be comfortable with). It's a new experience for me to have an audience, and the thought of people looking forward to my next game is one of the biggest morale boosts I've had.

Even if it's only in Early Access as of this writing, I would be fine if they locked it as is. Luckily, there are exciting things coming, such as VR support and online multiplayer added as an option for creators to include in their games. There are plenty who want to wait for the finished product, and I just can't understand why. Dreams is full of life right now, and will only get better.

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