Fashion is one of my favorite parts of gaming. From appreciating cool character designs to Final Fantasy XIV’s Glamour endgame, creating an outfit for every situation is just fun. This is especially true as someone who doesn’t currently engage with fashion much in real life. It certainly helps that I grew up playing Barbie games on PC and PlayStation with my sister (Horse Adventure on PS2 rules, don’t @ me), but there just aren’t that many games that really capture that experience. Developer syn Sophia’s Style Savvy series on 3DS did just that, while also including a story, characters, and even dabbling in men’s fashion. While under a different name and no longer published by Nintendo in the west, Fashion Dreamer is Style Savvy’s spiritual successor and it doubles down on the massive amount of customization, but feels like a step back in most other aspects.
Fashion Dreamer takes place in an online world (both in the game’s fiction and the game itself) populated by Muses, created characters you can express yourself with through their appearance. In previous games, your character ran a boutique and you needed to pick out outfits for them using your purchased stock, but here you get new clothes simply by Liking another person’s fit. You can hold up to 5000 pieces of clothing at once, and in my time with the game I never came close to that limit. Any clothes you’ve Liked can then be used as part of your own outfit or creating styles for NPCs and other player characters. You can create multiple Muses too (in both A and B types for women and men, though most clothes are only for type A), with progression carrying between all of them. You can also change your Muse’s appearance whenever you like, so the focus here is on freedom.
The main gameplay loop consists of wandering around one of the game’s four Cocoons, small themed areas, and creating Lookits based on what various characters want. They may ask you for a cool outfit, something cute, something green, or even to create a style revolving around a certain piece. You use tops, bottoms, outers, full body clothing like dresses, hats, earrings, and glasses to make an outfit, either from what you’ve collected or a random selection provided by the game. Once you’re done, they rate your outfit out of 1 to 3 hearts, you earn some Followers and currencies, then you move on to the next person. You can also furnish your own small space to share with other players, but that’s all there is to Fashion Dreamer.
For several days after receiving our code, I was hopelessly addicted to the game, and I think that speaks to how fun the core gameplay really is. However, once I unlocked the third Cocoon, I really started to feel burnt out on it. Requests don’t really evolve or change; you’re going to be making the same effortless or blue or whatever Lookits forever. Part of what helped that repetition in Style Savvy was the story. I mean, Fashion Forward took place in a magical world accessed through a doll house. They didn’t have much going on (I’d really like to see a game from syn Sophia where you’re a DnD tailor or something and your clothes somehow save the world), but the dialogue really did a lot to break things up. Not to mention the slow unlocking of new clothes, brands, store upgrades, and more. In Fashion Dreamer, you have everything at your fingertips right out of the gate, which would work for a sandbox mode complimentary to a story mode. As it is, the game burns bright but far too fast.
Fashion Dreamer is entirely grind, you wanna get your numbers up so you can unlock the few highs there are to unlock, like three Cocoons, clothing you can customize the color of under your brand’s label, and some new furniture. You unlock Cocoons at certain Follower milestones, with the final one opening up at 10,000 followers after the end credits unceremoniously roll. You gain followers by pretty much doing anything, including waiting for older outfits or photos you’ve taken to become more popular. In fact the easiest way to grind followers is to take pictures of yourself and NPCs using the drone camera. Making outfits will earn you E-Points, which you can then spend on furniture or to create a custom clothing item provided you have unlocked it with keys. There are also gacha machines to randomly give you new clothes, but I almost never used these, preferring to just Like clothes I found on other characters or in each Cocoon’s Pop-up area. After playing in the online mode for just a bit, you’ll have more resources than you could possibly ever need – I reached the end credits with over 1 million E-Points – so it doesn’t feel like the work you want to put in matches what you get out of it. Sure, I love making cool outfits that are color coordinated and super stylish, but if I just want to hit the end credits I’m going to put everyone in an orange prison jumpsuit because it gives me a lot of points with no effort.
Still, if you treat the game like a sandbox it can be a lot of fun. While I wanted to finish the game for this review, it’s probably best played a few minutes at a time. Just pop in, make a few outfits, collect your points and followers, and pop out. It won’t fix all the game’s problems, but it will make “progression” less of an unfulfilling slog.
I do have a lot of problems with the gameplay, but fewer with the visuals. The game is anime styled with big eyes, soft skin, and overall dainty features so you’re not going to be able to create a rugged outdoorsman, but it is pleasing to the eye. Cocoons have some nice style to them as well, I particularly like the more abstract aesthetic of Hope and the urban neon of Act, and while most of Cute isn’t to my taste the floating staircases in one area are super cool. Finally, Cocoon Love is like a futuristic shopping mall, it’s alright but feels like a hodgepodge of visual styles rather than a unified vision that the others have.
The game looks good, but doesn’t run great. You’ll experience almost constant frame drops, the worst of which are in the clothing menu once you get a certain amount of items. Fashion Dreamer is overall very sluggish, from walking around to menuing nothing feels snappy or instantaneous. You’re either waiting through an animation that’s just a little too long or for the huge list of clothing to load in or for your character to walk to the next venue. The worst of these waits is simply loading into an online connected game. I get that it needs to download a selection of players and player created items, but it genuinely had me opting for offline a few times just to make the experience more portable friendly.
Similarly, I love the amount of poses, filters, and other options available when taking a photo, but the camera itself is far too restrictive. Zoom in too far and your Muse will disappear, or try to get a lower angle only to be stopped short. It’s a very difficult camera to wrangle into doing what you want, and more often than not it’s simply incapable of taking complex shots. Hope you like bust ups facing the camera because that’s clearly the only thing the game wants you to take.
David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.
Fashion Dreamer dives into the deep end of sandbox gameplay and loses a lot of charm in the process. Having everything available from the get go is nice, but it lacks any motivation to keep playing after the first few hours. Making outfits is a ton of fun, there’s just not much to do or see outside of that.