Dreams Review: Hang ten, Dream Surfers

After a long period of early access, Media Molecule’s latest creation, Dreams, is now available as a full-fledged retail release. As Stevivor’s been saying for years, it’s definitely a game that needs to be experienced rather than described… but try to describe we will.

The brains behind LittleBigPlanet have shot for the moon this time around, offering a  platform that’s limited by one’s creativity rather than hardware or software. In my case, I can’t make a single thing of value, but that’s okay – you can play to create and showcase your art, or you can instead work through the creations of others.

Whichever way you choose, be aware that Dreams starts slow – but needs to – holding your hand and guiding you through its myriad systems. You’ll use the DualShock controller as a motion-controller to begin, using it to guide your on-screen imp from objective to objective. The imp is able to interact with objects, opening doors that were once closed, or even possessing nearby puppets to jump, run and shoot. Leaving the imp behind throws you into a construction mode – the beginnings of Dream Shaping — sculpting, placing pre-build objects, animating what’s on the canvas or making a timeline complete with audio queues and the like. I didn’t try using Move controllers though they’re supported, likely better suited for those creating rather than just experiencing.

Playing through others’ work is called Dream Surfing, and that’s what I did, starting with the creations made by Media Molecule before jumping into content made by the ever-growing community. Yes, I played through the Red Dead Online simulator and the Fallout 4 creation we highlighted earlier in the week. Then I moved onto a Mario 64 recreation, a Silent Hills game as imagined by a fan who was sad we’d missed out on an iteration from Hideo Kojima and even the beginnings of a recreated U.S.S. Enterprise-D — the latter’s creator opted to make the holodeck first, ironically. I finished up a Surfing session with a level of Spyro the Dragon called Ancient Ruins, complete with collectible gems, and the beginnings of an RPG called Heroes of Aldrenor, complete with a splash screen announcing the developer the game was coming from.

And, right there, is what astounds me. Dreams, through the creation and linking of scenes complete with audio queues, in-world interactions and all the other developer-y stuff I can’t pretend to understand, will let you make a full game for others to devour. Got some skills but not the cash to splash out on licensing and engines? You’ve now got Dreams. If you’re more of a movie guy, you can animate and render whatever you can imagine. The possibilities seem infinite, and I’m keen to jump on over to the website and enjoy what its community has deemed to be the cream of the crop.

The cynic in me starts to wonder about what happens with these creations if they’re hugely successful — does Sony or Media Molecule claim any ownership on something like Heroes of Aldrenor if Darkest Essence wants to spin it out into a standalone game? Another worry I’ve got is what happens when the likes of Nintendo get wind that Mario’s been sampled for a recreation of Super Mario 64. Or Konami over a sampling of the ol’ P.T. demo. Or…

If you’re wanting something wholly polished (as most of the experiences I’d jumped into are full of disclaimers that they’re works in progress), Media Molecule has you covered. In its usual euphoric and optimistic way, MM’s Art’s Dream is well-written and produced, but more importantly, encouraging. It, like all of Dreams, wants you to tear down the wall of self-doubt and shine.

I’ve been exposed to Dreams for more than two years, and I still can’t create for sh*t. Luckily, I don’t have to – I’m more than happy to self-identify as an avid Dream Surfer with zero creativity (unless someone reads a writer to really bring their work to life?). Bring on your creations, folks.


9 out of 10

The good

  • Whimsical, euphoric and optimistic.
  • Dream Surfing is great fun (especially if you’re not creative enough to make your own stuff)!
  • Limitless creative tools at your disposal.

The bad

  • Slow to start.
  • What happens to IP if it becomes popular? What happens with copyright strikes?


Dreams was reviewed using a promotional code on PS4, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.