Media Molecule's Dreams has the potential to be something really special. Simply put, it offers a suite of creation tools where you can transform your wildest ideas into sharable interactive experiences. At EGX, we got the opportunity to play through some creations that were born within Dreams and these included platformers, space shooters, and text-based adventures. Sadly though, we weren't able to get our hands on the creation tools (arguably the title's biggest draw) but these were shown to us later during a playthrough session with the developers.
The first creation we delved into was Please Hug Me. The title reminded us of Pixar's The Blue Umbrella, an animated short where two umbrellas are torn apart after finding love in a rain-drenched city. Here you play as a faceless red cube and slowly inch towards a group of creatures with open arms - desperate for a cuddle. It wasn't much of game in the traditional sense and it's built up purely to deliver one concluding joke but we admired how much character and charm it conveyed without the use of dialogue. We have to give a special shout out too to the Media Molecule employee who threw this one together on their first day - bravo!
Competitive party games might not be what you first associate with Media Molecule's upcoming creation suite, but Hammer Time is one that revels in the unexpected. In it, you play as google-eyed hammers and compete against each other to shatter as many scurrying lightbulbs as you can to rack up the highest score. There was also another mode where players had to knock each other off an arena made of jigsaw pieces by slamming your face into the ground. Building creations within a Dreams does sound like quite a solitary experience but its great to see that some of these ideas have the potential to be played with friends. We do, however, hope that our creations can be enjoyed in both local and online multiplayer.
Sock puppets, tumbleweeds, and magic pencils feature in the first platformer of the bunch, Comic Sands. A play on the name of the much-despised font, the title sees you play as a smiley-faced blue cube as you roll across the desert from one screen to the next passing cacti and ram skulls on your way. This concept develops as a magic pencil emerges and sketches you a pair of legs and later on things are transformed into full 3D. This creation showed us how mechanics can be layered to create something that can evolve over time - an almost crescendo of new design concepts.
The shortest title of the seven on show was Windy Glades. It's a 2D platformer that reminded us an awful lot of Ori and the Blind Forest and saw as navigating a glowing orb across a shadowy forest. We adored its art direction but the gameplay felt lacking as it was little more than a tutorial showcasing a double jump and a gliding ability. It did demonstrate how different methods of traversal can be employed in your creations with this one differing heavily from Comic Sands. We did crave something more exciting from this one though, perhaps a few puzzles that we could have been solved with our ability to drift across the environment.
Given Time is a text-based title that sparked our imagination, playing much like a choose your own adventure novel. Here you enter a house party and stumble upon many spooky occurrences throughout the night when searching for your missing group of friends. This one contrasted the most from the others as it was built purely around text and teased even more ways that stories can be told within the suite. Given Time showcased the potential for players to make similar adventures but given how involved painting a picture with just words we feel it may be one of the more tricky styles to pull off.
Moon Raiders and Ferovinum were two space shooters that admittedly felt void of personality. The former was touted as a space dogfight simulator, and it saw us whiz across an asteroid-congested galaxy to gun down enemy ships. The Latter, Ferovinum, is a frantic shmup reminiscent of the C64 classic Uridium where you must dissemble an enemy vessel by blasting its components to pieces. There was nothing particularly wrong with these two (they helped to show the breadth of the creation tools pretty well), they just lacked the originality and charm seen in the other five.
Whilst we did have fun with the seven creations on display its difficult to measure the full potential of Dreams without delving deep into its creation tools. How intuitive these are will ultimately dictate whether Dreams will live on fuelled by the original ideas of its community. What we did see at EGX though showed us how diverse of a creation suite Dreams can be as it showcased party games, platformers, and space shooters all with their own distinctive art and narrative styles. This flexibility and the potential backing of a wealth of community-created content are likely indications that Sony has another stellar exclusive on its hands.