Sunday, March 01, 2020

"Dreams" Review

The game-making genre has always aspired to the vision that anyone on their couch could bring their idea to life and use it to reach the masses. Drawbacks in technology, interface and scale have always stopped entries short of that ideal.

But now comes the staggeringly innovative "Dreams," a boundary-shattering delight that lives up to its name by venturing closer than anything that's come before to the long-sought ideal.

Developer Media Molecule expands on the Play/Create/Share philosophy it has built over the last 12 years in the "LittleBigPlanet" series, launching its ambition to stratospheric proportions. Using a tutorial thinly disguised as a campaign to roll out its myriad toolsets, the title makes you feel comfortable with manipulating the code it takes to construct just about any category you can envision.

It also takes a crucial step beyond that landmark by managing to make game creation appealing to those who may otherwise be disinterested. Theoretically, the release of "Dreams" could mark as a turning point for game development, demolishing class and social structures that have restrained the field's diversity and opening up the art form to the visions of the masses.

While only time will tell if "Dreams" ascends to such heights, it's already apparent that it's allowed current players to crank out a staggering amount of eye-poppingly brilliant creations. While later "LittleBigPlanet" games did allow the cleverest players to branch out into other fields, the series was always pretty much a platformer builder, with little more reach than "Mario Maker" games.

"Dreams," though, frees players from such shackles, granting and encouraging freedom of creative vision without any apparent impediments. Through ease of use and expertise in design, it achieves the paradigm sought for by the likes of "Project Spark."

When I started the game with my children, I marveled at the way my 13-year-old and 7-year-old jerked the controller out of my hands to indulge the ideas that were bursting out of their minds. There are few games that are capable of engaging all three of us at our varied levels of experiences, and fewer still that can make us feel equally empowered. The fact that "Dreams" accomplished the goal with ease is hardly short of miraculous.

When you play "Dreams," you get more than what you put into it. The power it grants you is intoxicating, and also just a gleeful. It makes children feel as capable of adults, and adults feel as unencumbered as children. To take the controller is to live the dream.

 Publisher provided review code.

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