Media Molecule's Dreams is an ambitious and creative video game, but that's also what makes it quite confounding. It's difficult to describe in a general sense because nothing about it is ordinary; overall, it's a sandbox game that gives players the freedom to create virtually anything they set their minds to, which makes it more than a game. From the start, players are given access to a wide array of tools - to create levels, characters, music, and more - which are used to build entire experiences within this one game. And the results are... intriguing, to say the least. Players who are familiar with the studio's previous LittleBigPlanet titles will already be accustomed to creation tools, especially with how Media Molecule uses them, but Dreams takes all of what made LBP great and amplifies them for a whole new experience.
Screen Rant got the opportunity to try out the game first-hand alongside some of the developers at a recent preview event. Although there's a lot to the game, what we saw was only a brief glimpse into the world of Dreams. The demo started out with a tutorial of Dreams' "imp" characters, which are essentially avatars for players to control the game's features - to manipulate objects and fields - in addition to hopping in and out of characters so that players can actually play the game that they or other players have created. The imps are controlled using the motion mechanics inside the DualShock 4 controller or even the PlayStation Move, which makes for a more interactive experience than using thumbsticks.
While controlling the imps is quite manageable and playing the game is as simple as any platformer out there (using R2 to possess characters in the gamespace), it's the world-building that has a bit of a learning curve, which might be steeper for some players more than others. That's not necessarily a bad thing because, once players become accustomed to the game's features, Dreams opens up a whole new experience that's unlike anything else out there - and that's precisely where it shines.
Creating maps, games, and music may be at the forefront of what Dreams is, but it wouldn't be much of a game without actually playing those levels. Sure, having a grand opportunity of pure creation is enticing, but as Media Molecule told us, playing those worlds allows gamers to "experience the creativity and the emotions" of the players that created them, especially since no one "level" is the same as another. And it's worth noting that any number of players can make their own mark on each level/map/world. Someone can create a small corner of it (which helps by using L1 and R2 to make infinite copies of an object) while a musician (or someone else) may want to try their hand at creating a theme for it. We got to try out all of this first-hand, by creating our own level and also diving into a variety of other game types created by Media Molecule's employees (not just developers). However, if world-building is not your forte, Dreams also allows players to build off someone else's idea, or even diving deep to uncover a specific aspect that someone created for a level that users like.
What's most interesting about Dreams is that it's not just one game but a variety of games - from different genres - all fused into one title. And the one factor that makes the game stand out from the crowd is that, every time someone plays the game - not necessarily creating something in it - it becomes a new experience. One day, someone can be journeying through a Limbo-esque adventure or a Mario-style sidescroller, and then the next day playing a Grifball-sized match with a friend. In Dreams, there's no one obejective; it's everything and it's nothing at the same time. Overall, it's all about creativity, imagination, and... variety. There aren't many games like that these days and what Media Molecule is doing is quite optimistic.