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Dreams review: Do-it-yourself gaming limited only by your imagination

(PS4) ★★★★★ Age: 12+








In the corner of the screen sits the logo Made In Dreams. You're playing, in rapid sequence, a bewildering array of genres - platformer, bullet-hell shooter, point'n'click adventure, music performance, and more - in a dazzling series of art styles.

Yet, as the little watermark in the bottom right reminds you, all of it was assembled in Dreams itself, the latest idiot-proof game-creation kit from Media Molecule, the people who brought us Little Big Planet. You too can do this, it tells you.

Seven years in the, ahem, making, Dreams follows the LBP blueprint of cartoonish visuals married to easy-to-grasp, hard-to-master building tools - except amped to the power of 10. Where LBP-produced levels were generally easily to recognise, the output possible from Dreams spans a much wider gamut, straddling all kinds of categories, from abstract to photo-realistic, art projects to full-blown hours-long games.

By way of demonstration, Media Molecule offers you Art's Dream, the showcase project mentioned in the intro. To be honest, it's not truly a great game - not in the way Little Big Planet's main MM-produced campaign was anyway - in that it feels disjointed. But it illustrates the sheer breadth of Dreams' range in graphics, audio and mechanics. It would be improved immeasurably if you could tinker inside its set-up, to see behind the curtain. But for now, that's not an option.

Instead, you could dive headlong into the community-generated creations - everything from Mario knock-offs to graphic novels - and be inspired. Predictably, a fair percentage of unfinished dreck props up the true gems but, thanks to the curation and rating system, the cream mostly rises. Creators have also had almost a year of Dreams in Early Access form to get to grips with its toolkit, so the more polished projects are likely to be long labours of love.

True, there are other free software packages out there such as GameMaker Studio and Unity - and they enable you to make and, importantly, sell your own games on several platforms. Dreams is PS4 only and makes only vague promises about standalone sales at some point in the future.

But Media Molecule's generous and friendly editor (including tutorials), together with an abundant collection of community efforts (many available to watch but not play on the InDreams website), make for an inviting challenge. This is the easiest it's ever been for gamers to get their hands dirty with a bit of DIY.

Indo Review