[Preview] Fashion Dreamer – PAX West 2023
Posted on September 11, 2023 by Nicholas Serpa in Previews, Switch
It’s a bit mind-boggling to think about, but somehow the Switch has gone its entire lifespan so far without receiving a Style Savvy game from Nintendo, despite getting three great titles in the series on the 3DS. Fortunately for fashion fans, XSEED Games and Marvelous are bringing a spiritual successor of sorts to the platform with Fashion Dreamer, a Switch exclusive that represents something of a new approach to the genre, emphasizing freeform play and social sharing in ways that just wouldn’t have been possible during the 3DS era.
Whereas Style Savvy games tend to give the player an overrarching goal, like running a clothing store or competing in runway competitions, Fashion Dreamer seems much more interested in the clothing itself, with a big focus on collecting it, designing it, and sharing it with the community. If anything, the angle here is to become a fashion influencer by designing clothes that will trend in the community and get likes from other players. While it’s a little less structured than the games that inspired it, it’s an interesting take on the genre that feels appropriate in our influencer-heavy online society.
Whether you play online or offline, you’ll first design your own character (called a Muse – you can have up to four) and enter a fashion-focused virtual world called Eve, which is split into various neighborhoods called Cocoons. Each Cocoon has its own vibe – one resembles an upscale shopping mall, another like a crowded urban fashion district – and is populated with characters who the player can talk with and interact with. Each non-player Muse will have different clothing requests for the player, asking them to outfit them in certain ways, but remaining relatively open-ended. Some creativity is definitely beneficial, as some of these requests can be a little off the wall – one request I received was to find an outfit for a woman that had knitted or woven elements, but that was also sporty. Those two things seemed a bit contradictory to me at first, so don’t expect every request to be as cut and dry as “find me an outfit that’s orange.”
Something interesting about Fashion Dreamer is that it’s remarkably easy to add new clothes to your collection; if you see something on display, you simply click on it and add it to your collection – no spending of in-game money required. As far as I could tell, there are no significant limitations to this, so nothing is stopping you from meandering around Eve and adding every piece of fabric you see to your inventory. If you do a good job at using these clothes to fulfill requests, Muses will “follow you” in the in-game social media network and will be more likely to “like” other outfits you design in the future. You’ll also unlock new color palettes that you can use when designing your own clothing items, as well as new hairstyles, makeup and more.
When playing online, NPC Muses will be replaced with Muses from real players across the world, who you can request outfit designs from and download and share original creations with. I didn’t get to design many clothes myself during my demo, but the developers have stated there are over 1,400 patterns to work with, with up to 8 customizable colors for each one, and over 3.6 million colors to choose from. Anything you design can be collected into “brands” and you can even design virtual showrooms to highlight things you’ve made. There are other activities in Fashion Dreamer like a photo mode, which lets you pose and take photos out in the world with other NPCs and then add frames and stickers later on.
This all sounds really versatile, but it seems like there’s not much of a story driving the game; that’s probably just fine for many players, as oftentimes in games like this the act of designing clothes and customizing characters is a satisfying end goal in of itself. That said, with the structure being seemingly very open-ended, part of me is a little concerned that more casual players might bounce off this pretty quickly. One of the great things about Style Savvy is that, at least in my limited experience, it’s easier to get invested in your character because the in-game world feels tangible and grounded, and characters who you interact with often have mini story arcs that help them feel more like real people. Fashion Dreamer has a unique style to it, but it also all feels a little bit more clinical and straight-faced than the games that inspired it. And personally, as someone who’s not really all that invested in social media, the concept of gathering more likes and followers as an end goal in of itself is just not super compelling for me. In Fashion Dreamer’s defense, I’m probably not the intended target audience for a title like this anyways, but I think a slightly different premise would make it easier for me to stay invested.
All that said, despite the different approach that I’m not entirely sold on, this is without a doubt one of the most comprehensive and feature-rich fashion games that’s been released in several years, and it’s certainly going to be the best example of this type of game on the Switch. Go in with an open mind, and I think there’s definitely going to be some fun to be had; how long it will last you seems like it will depend on home much joy you get from the act of creative design in of itself. Fashion Dreamer is scheduled to launch exclusively on Switch on November 3, 2023.