Fashion Dreamer is the latest release from Syn Sophia, developers of the popular Style Savvy series. Despite sharing the core dress-up gameplay of Style Savvy, Fashion Dreamer is a new IP with its own identity. Fashion Dreamer has a laser focus on its core gameplay loop, supplemented by a substantial online element that encourages players to share their creativity with others. Does this focus on streamlined gameplay and community engagement pay off? Let’s talk about it.
At the core of Fashion Dreamer’s design is accessibility. That is in the sense that there are few obstacles between the player and their expression. Your goal in Fashion Dreamer is to design individual articles of clothing, accessories, and whole outfits, according to your own sensibilities and the wishes of ‘muses’. Muses are characters, both NPCs and real player avatars, who inhabit the world of Fashion Dreamer. Players can design outfits (lookits) for these muses, who will make certain requests such as the inclusion of certain colors and patterns, or sometimes just an overall vibe.
To meet the muses’ requests you’ll need a large and varied wardrobe, and Fashion Dreamer makes building your collection a breeze. There are a few different ways to get new pieces for your wardrobe. The first, and simplest method, is simply ‘liking’ items worn by muses hanging around the world. Walk up to any muse, tap Y, and you can pick out any item from their fit to add to your collection. This is the first indicator of that idea of accessibility I mentioned. If a particular skirt takes your fancy, it can be yours in a matter of seconds. Fashion Dreamer doesn’t want you to be tightly managing resources, or being overly selective and restrictive with your wardrobe, it wants to funnel you as easily as possible into the creative loop, and I think that’s a great strength.
You’ll also be able to expand your wardrobe by designing your own items. We’ll talk about this in a bit more depth later on, but this system does have resource limitations attached. Thankfully these limitations are largely insignificant. You’ll be overwhelmed by various resources early on, and even as they begin to dwindle you can easily farm your way back up by just creating more outfits, taking photos, and interacting with the community. Fashion Dreamer never knocks you out of the fun, well, at least never intentionally. More on that later.
So it’s nice and simple to fill up your wardrobe in Fashion Dreamer, but is there much worth filling it up with? Well yes, the selection of clothes in Fashion Dreamer is massive and generally quite delightful. A poor selection of apparel would be quite the disaster for a dress-up game. I’d like to count the exact number of items you may adorn your muses with, but it’s over a thousand and I’ve only got ten fingers. There are pieces to suit just about every persuasion here, except I suppose nudists.
Items are separated into slots, those being tops, bottoms, one-pieces, outerwear, socks, shoes, headwear, glasses, and earrings. You may notice that those slots don’t cover everything you might desire to include as part of an outfit. Perhaps the most egregious exclusion here is handbags, without which it is impossible to fully appreciate the associated gladrags. There’s also of course a dearth of accessories, no rings, necklaces, or scarves to be seen.
It might seem churlish to complain about the absence of these categories when there is such a massive selection of clothing to make use of, but it’s a very noticeable omission. Fashion Dreamer is a dress-up game, and that’s all it is, which I love, but it does mean that missing such integral elements of fashion as bags and jewelry (beyond earrings) sticks out. There is also perhaps an uneven balance in styles, with a much broader selection of “cute” clothing whilst streetwear, for example, is rather neglected, but this is a more minor gripe as I do feel for the most part there is a broad enough representation of styles.
And A Pretty Face
Before you start putting together any outfits you’ll need a muse of your own to wear them. Fashion Dreamer has a nice little character creator with a fair variety of features to choose from. I will say you’re pretty limited to a kind of pretty, doll-like character. It would be quite a challenge to put together any Oblivion style grotesqueries, though some players have tried their level best. You’ve got a nice selection of hairstyles and colors (which expands as you progress), and you can select from a range of body types. That range extends anywhere from very short and very skinny, to very tall and moderately skinny. Bodies come in two flavors, masculine and feminine, though it’s best to go femme as clothing is gender-locked and the masculine selection is much weaker.
You can change up your muse’s look at any time with the in-game salon, which I found to be a good bit of fun. I enjoyed changing up my muse’s aesthetic to match new clothes I’d designed or picked up. That gender-locking really is a pain in the arse though. This is one of those areas where Fashion Dreamer does accidentally knock you out of the fun loop, when you excitedly rush to try out the sailor suit you just unlocked, only to find it is apparently an exclusively masculine article. This also makes designing outfits for muses of the opposite body type a pain too, as you’re likely to have a much more limited selection to offer.
There is also something of an issue with skin tones in Fashion Dreamer. I’m no beauty guru, but even I can tell you that you can in fact blend makeup with darker skin tones. Not so however in Fashion Dreamer. The makeup selections generally look bizarre on darker skin tones, and with no options to adjust opacity or vibrancy there’s very little you can do to assuage this issue. If you’re planning on playing with a darker skin tone, it is perhaps best to forgo makeup entirely unless you’re okay going all in on clowncore. I do hope this issue gets resolved in future updates, as it wouldn’t be all that difficult to implement some basic blending options.
Paint By Numbers
Beyond picking up new apparel via likes, you can also design your own pieces as part of your very own clothing brand. Well, sort of. The item creation system is an important part of Fashion Dreamer’s creative toolset, but it’s unfortunately quite barebones. In reality the item creation system only really allows you to modify the colors of various blanks. These blanks (or patterns) are base items that you acquire by leveling up your brand or through the in-game gacha system (no microtransaction system is in place, do not panic). Each item has a set number of color slots that affect predetermined areas of the item, and you get to pick the colors.
This system is fun, and it is nice to be able to create your own brand identity via your selection of base patterns and the color palettes, but it is far too shallow. Even something as simple as applying basic patterns like stripes or spots would have gone a long way in extending the creative potential of the item creation. As it stands I’m basically just coloring in something that’s already been fully designed for me.
I would have liked to see the ability to create our own patterns or graphics for items. There are traces of this in the game’s photo system so it’s all the more disappointing to see them absent from the item creation, which at the moment really ought to be renamed to item coloring. There are more options available for customizing your brand logo than there are for clothing items, in a fashion game. There are updates in the pipeline for Fashion Dreamer and I think this has to be a priority if they want to extend the life of the game. If the item creation remains a glorified color picker then the community is going to quickly exhaust the creative potential on offer.
I’ve mentioned some of Fashion Dreamer’s progression mechanics in passing, and now I’d like to go a little deeper. The game has a couple of concrete progression metrics, in addition to the more abstract progression of growing your collection of clothing. The main progression system is the Eve Log, which is an in-game social media app where your activities are logged and you gain likes and followers from everything you do. Likes convert into currency that you use for the item creation, and followers serve as a stand-in for XP. As your follower count increases you’ll unlock new base items for item creation, and you’ll also unlock access to new Cocoons (small maps that make up the world of Fashion Dreamer).
You’ll also progress by increasing your brand level, by way of creating new items of increasing rarity and cost. The brand level system is entirely self-contained, it increases only via engaging with the item creation system and the only reward it offers is new base items for that system. Progression overall is simple, the Eve Log will consistently reward you no matter what you’re doing, which I enjoyed. It was nice to have an ever-present feeling of growth without having to worry about optimal progression.
I will say that Fashion Dreamer’s simple progression mechanics can lead to a loss of direction for the player. The game relies heavily on the player setting their own goals. Within about 10 hours of gameplay I had no concrete goals to work towards. I personally didn’t mind this, in fact I appreciated being set free to pursue whatever I felt like, but that won’t be ideal for everyone. I do think that the inclusion of some rotating quests or challenges might help some players remain engaged when they aren’t sure what they want to do next.
Musing On Muses
Another plank of Fashion Dreamer’s progression is your bonds with NPC muses. Across the various Cocoons you’ll find pre-made muses with names like Politician Polly or Futuristic Frank. Creating lookits for these muses will increase your bond level with them. The bond level will increase by one point per lookit, with two additional points attainable if you match the NPC’s requests, coordinate colors well, or match trends. You’ll need three points to rank up your bond.
As your bond increases you’ll be given a variety of rewards, including some exclusive hairstyles, hair colors, makeup, items, and photo mode poses. Deepening your bonds with the various muses is certainly fun, but it’s let down somewhat by a lack of personality. NPC muses feel very shallow, and I wasn’t particularly interested in interacting with them. If it were not for the opportunity to grab some new hairstyles I don’t think I would have bothered much with NPCs at all after the opening hours of the game.
This might present a problem for those who will be playing Fashion Dreamer offline. Without real players to liven up the world, Fashion Dreamer can end up feeling hollow. This isn’t necessarily a knock on the game. It’s quite upfront in the marketing that this is a game designed around active community engagement, and the online social elements were a huge focus in development. If you’re not going to be making use of the online mode, you might want to avoid Fashion Dreamer, or at least set your expectations appropriately.
The Void (To Be Filled At A Later Date)
I’m going to talk more about the online elements soon, they’re my favorite part of Fashion Dreamer. Before I get to that though, let’s go over my least favorite part. The game does its best to keep you in the fun, creative loop, but it undermines itself with some disastrous quality of life issues. First, and most infuriating, is the inability to save outfits or muse looks. I can’t fathom how the game managed to ship without such an essential feature for a fashion-focused game. There are technically some workarounds here, but they’re clunky band-aid solutions to a problem that simply shouldn’t be present.
A second baffling issue is the inability to filter clothing items by color, pattern, or sub-category. Fashion Dreamer does have the ability to tag clothes with these categories as they are tracked in muse lookit requests, but the player is only able to filter by item slot. This issue gets more and more glaring as you build your wardrobe up. When I’ve got over a thousand different items, I need some sorting tools, especially as the wardrobe menu begins to lag as your item count balloons.
Outside of quality of life issues, there are some missing features that I feel would have significantly improved my time with Fashion Dreamer. This is where the planned updates come in. One feature that would elevate the game at the moment is the ability to create collections for your brand, sorting items and outfits into their own aesthetic categories and giving them a spotlight. Collections do appear in marketing materials for the planned updates, but I don’t think this is a justifiable omission from launch. Updates should be expanding content, not filling holes that ought not to have been there in the first place. It also makes reviewing Fashion Dreamer a little difficult. I can only comment on what is available at release, and the potential for improvements and fixes is too nebulous for me to take into account.
Now that the complaining is out of the way, I’m happy to say from here on out I’ve got nothing but positive things left to say. By far the greatest success of Fashion Dreamer is the design and implementation of its online elements. As you explore Cocoons you’ll come across real player’s muses, and you can put together outfits for them that they’ll then receive in their lookit mail. This of course also means other players will do the same for you. I loved this element so much. Putting together a perfect outfit to match a muse’s look, and then getting the notification back that the other player liked it (which comes with a nice lump of currency for the item creation system) is endlessly satisfying.
The presence of other players elevates Fashion Dreamer far beyond what it could accomplish as a single-player experience. NPC muses will sometimes appear wearing outfits that other players have created for them, there are boards where items designed by other players are showcased and you can give them a like to add them to your collection, and there is a constant cycle of positive engagement between every player. The constant spread of new fashion, driven by players, is delightful and engaging. I could gush for hours about the relentless positivity and excitement that this community focus produces.
Another online element that I enjoyed, and I expect many will love, is the showroom system. Fashion Dreamer gives every player a small room that they can decorate and use to show off the outfits and items they’ve created. Other players can visit your showroom by interacting with your muse, or by stumbling across it in the showroom stream. I got a lot of enjoyment from seeing a player with an awesome outfit, and then hopping into their showroom to sample more of their creations. Everything about the online system just works perfectly, it’s an outstanding achievement from Syn Sophia.
Style Savvy Indeed
The relentless positivity present in online interactions can also be found in Fashion Dreamer’s visuals and presentation. This is a game that wants the player to have a chill, fun time. The various Cocoons you’ll visit in your time with Fashion Dreamer have distinctive visual identities, and they all look incredible. Unlocking a new Cocoon was always exciting on account of the stellar environment design work on display here.
Muses and the clothes you dress them up with are sharp, colorful, and creative. It’s essential that a fashion game gets clothing and character design right, and Fashion Dreamer nails these elements without any trouble. Not every piece you unlock is going to be a personal highlight of course, but they’re all of a consistent high quality. It’s quite notable, I think, that Fashion Dreamer is able to maintain a cohesive artistic direction across a range of styles.
Fashion Dreamer’s musical selection strikes a solid balance. The music is poppy and energetic, but just subtle enough to not become exhausting. Each Cocoon has a few different associated background tracks, which also helps to avoid that sense of exhaustion that can sometimes set in with game soundtracks, particularly those in pseudo-endless games like Fashion Dreamer.
Fashion Dreamer isn’t a perfect game, in fact it’s got quite a lot of issues. That said, I really enjoyed my time with it, and I plan on playing a whole lot more even after wrapping up my review. If you’re interested in fashion games, then you sort of have to pick this one up. There’s not much else like it out there nowadays. There are problems sure, but there’s also so much to love. The online social elements have been executed masterfully, and that should inject some real longevity to the game if the developers can address some of the quality of life concerns in the future. There is so much fun to be had, and so I do recommend Fashion Dreamer overall, just with the caveat that you’re going to rub up against some rough edges if you dive in.
FASHION DREAMER IS RECOMMENDED
Thanks to Marvelous Games for providing a Nintendo Switch review code for Fashion Dreamer.
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A man described by critics as “pretty normal” and “memorable in the abstract”. He has committed his life to the consumption of anime and games, against the advice and wishes of his family and friends. Now writing about his passions, hopefully for your enjoyment.