Genre: Game Creation System
Developer: Media Molecule
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Every game creation system has its focus: "Megazeux" on tiled titles, "STOS" on smooth sprite movement-oriented releases, "LittleBigPlanet" on 2d platformers-- and now, Dreams on 3d platformers. As such, creating graphics in Dreams involves "sculpting" totally arbitrary three-dimensional shapes, whose textures and "fuzziness" can be adjusted. People have made everything from snowy nightscapes to high-tech space stations, and everything in between. The end products aren't exactly "Horizon Zero Dawn" territory, but their 1440p "PS4 Pro" looks sharp and modern nonetheless. No HDR support thus far is a shame.
No "LittleBigPlanet" obnoxiously pretentious Stephen Fry voiceovers this time around-- thank the heavens! In his stead there are a couple of new British tarts-- one male, one female-- who provide the tutorial material, which can thankfully be cleared in just a few hours. Dreams provides a built in music creation element called a "timeline", and while it's somewhat fussy compared to the cool music editor in "STOS", using it people have nonetheless faithfully reproduced even "Green Hill Zone".
Easily the closest parallel to Dreams is the "SnapMap" mode in "Doom 2016". In fact, imagine "SnapMap"-- the connecting of logical floating elements with wires, the optionally grid-leveraging placement of objects in 3d space, the setting up of "trigger zones"-- but with about four times the number of circuit elements and gates, plus the ability to construct arbitrary geometry. The whole thing is wrapped in a "Super Mario Maker"-like browser, which lets you pull other's
characters and elements right into your own
stage. Unfortunately, unlike 1992's "Super Mario Paint" which shipped with a mouse, Dreams relies on the constantly
drifting and annoyingly fussy controller gyroscopes.
WYSIWYG game editors go back at least
as far as 1998's "UnrealEd"; fully real-time in-engine map modification can find precedence as far back as 2001's "Cube"; the "start-stop time" mechanic finds its roots in Bill Budge's 1983 release "Pinball Construction Set"; the connecting of logical elements clearly was lifted from the aforementioned "Doom 2016 SnapMap" level editor. So what does
Dreams bring to the table then? Its real draws are that it's the first full-fledged game creation system which allows for modern-day triple-A styled visuals-- and it runs on a contemporary video game console. It's a little cumbersome and frustrating to use, but all the same if this reviewer were in charge, Dreams would be integrated directly into the "PlayStation 5" dashboard ala Basic on a Commodore 64.