Perhaps one of the most misunderstood games in existence, Dreams by Media Molecule continues to be an ethereal and ungraspable thing, one that just won’t really give away what on Earth is meant to be going on. Apparently it’s a place you can go to experience the creations of the community as well as make your own bits of media. As it stands though, the actual tool-set that is used is a mystery, making the opportunity to clear up some of this fog and get a firm grip on the game was too good to pass up.
Upon starting the demo up I was greeted with a few different examples to sample; there was a text adventure, a multiplayer game about hammers, a platformer starring a cute little robot, and a few other little oddities. What there wasn’t any sign of was the creative suite that all of these little games were built in, which is a real shame. In fairness, it’s bound to be very difficult to demo, but given how long the game has been in quiet development, it’s becoming increasingly frustrating to feel so incredibly uninformed about what your average play session will be like.
The games themselves were well made and interesting enough. The platformer was the most substantial of the experiences by a significant margin, it took centre stage of the selection and is clearly the one that was meant to be showed off the most. Moving around was slick and responsive, the double jump felt good and the hover was essential for some of the trickier jumps too. There was a lot going on in the background as well, with little bits of animation that helped make it feel like a full game.
That level of quality was evident in all of the creations available and each one felt like a well polished indie game that had been created with a good attention to detail and a lot of time and effort. Even the less meaty options were well made and all clearly designed to prove a point; you can do a lot with this game. In fact it doesn’t even seem to be a game, it appears to be a straight up game engine as much as anything else. According to recent features in Game Informer, Dreams could be used to make pretty much any genre you can think of, the tool set is way beyond anything that people will have known in a video game, going far, far beyond what you could even imagine in LittleBigPlanet.
There will even be a social interface, one that tracks your skills and the kind of things you like to create. This will allow people to find those who can help fill in the gaps in their own abilities, so if you are brilliant at modelling but terrible at animation then you can find someone to cover that weakness. It actually seems like this might not really be a game at all, and the more we hear about it the less like one it becomes. Maybe this a new Sony game engine. Perhaps this is something that will allow developers that choose to use it to do even more in the games industry?
The trouble is that this doesn’t demo well and the minigames at EGX don’t do justice to any of these ideas. We still don’t have a release date and we still haven’t seen enough of Dreams to really know what it is capable of. Whether or not this is revolutionary is incredibly hard to say when there are still so many questions. What can the average person create here and how long will it take? How many Media Molecule created games will there be within it at launch? Is there ultimately an end goal beyond the creation itself?