Without context, the starting point of the Tetris Effect does not stop you in your tracks. It’s Tetris in heart and soul, and the familiar playing field is presented against fantasy backgrounds with songs and sound effects that respond to your actions. What that basic description doesn’t tell you is how powerful the combination of performing tetrominoes and music at the same time can be. It is undoubtedly a high promise, but there is no other way to describe the impact that the Tetris Effect has once it finally clicks. This is our Tetris Effect Review.
Tetris Effect Review: About
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
- Developer: Resonair, Monstars
- Publisher: Enhance, Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Genres: Puzzle video game
- Release Date: November 9, 2018
Tetris Effect Review: Gameplay
While there are a handful of modes – unfortunately, no sign of multiplayer – with necessary twists on the standard formula worth exploring at your leisure, most of the Tetris Effect experience takes place in Journey Mode. It’s an aptly named journey that takes you to recognizable locations like the moon, but more often to general settings best defined by a list of adjectives. These dream landscapes can be airy, electric, stressful, spooky, heavenly, or crunchy, just to name a few of the standout features. The music at every stage may not always be a predictable link, but only because you didn’t see an absolute harmony coming, doesn’t mean it can’t work.
Over time, you will find that the game not only engages you with music, but you get addicted to songs that traditionally don’t fit your musical preferences. Chances are you don’t listen to the singing in foreign languages or the complicated beats of the tabla every day, but Tetris Effect makes these unusual sounds alluring. It’s hard to say what this music would feel like without experiencing them first while playing. Still, if you get fascinated by their rhythms while simultaneously turning puzzle pieces around and reconfiguring them in a race against the clock, they’ll get relentlessly catchy and keep you going long after you hang, stop playing.
Because the Tetris effect is so contagious, it is challenging to stop once you fall into its rhythm. Tetris has proven to be a very compelling game and an ever higher skill ceiling game that allows attracting players with decades of experience under their belt. Journey mode will increase, but in keeping with the sense of adventure, it will also drop-down, although rarely for long. The non-linear flow is an essential part of the experience that provides you with anticipation and rewards with relief and is an unexpected benefit to the standard flow of a Tetris session.
Your progress within a phase often determines the shift in tone and tempo. Most require you to clear a total of 36 lines (on normal difficulty), with milestones en route dictating the current rhythm. However, you do have a tool at your disposal that is explicitly designed to pump up the brakes and give you the chance to save a potentially catastrophic situation or build a combination with a high score. The Zone ability can be activated with a single press of a button anytime you have a load in the relevant meter, which is refueled a quarter of the way every time you clear eight lines.
With Zone activated, pieces float earlier than they fall, and you can take your time – as indicated by the meter – by placing them in your deck. Erase a line, and it will move to the bottom of the stack, ready to be automatically erased when Zone is turned off. Since lines persist even when “erased” in Zone, you can create combos that go beyond the standard four-line Tetris if you are skilled enough. They don’t count towards your line count for the level, but they give you extra scoring opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
The new Zone mechanic adds a new strategy layer for both new and experienced players. Still, more than this new mechanic, it is the quasi-spiritual bond that develops between you and the game that defines the Tetris effect. Even though you don’t require a PlayStation VR headset to get a sneak peek, there’s no question that Tetris Effect is best enjoyed in VR with headphones out loud. With your sight and hearing cut off from the outside world, you disappear into the game.
You feel things that you would never imagine a game of Tetris could make you think. Don’t be surprised if you see yourself bursting with joy, or on the verge of crying, all because the confluence of gameplay and sensory stimulation works quite well. No additional physical movement is required of you – the opposite of almost every other VR game in recent memory. Tetris Effect wants your mind, not your body, and even though we all dream of one day being entirely immersed in a high-end VR game. In reality, the Tetris Effect achieves the primary goal: belief in your connection to the game.
Tetris Effect is a game that will more than likely be overlooked by people who think it is ‘just Tetris’. Well, it is, and it is not. Anyone who knows Tetris can pick up the Tetris effect and start playing right away. The basis remains the same; it is a proven formula that continues to work. But Tetris is just the beginning of the Tetris effect. It forms the basis for a complex emotional journey that defies expectations. It is a driving force that pushes you beyond your supposed limits. It’s the definition of great, and if you have an open heart and an open mind, you owe it to yourself to take the step and see why it’s anything but ‘just Tetris.’
Tetris Effect Review: Conclusion
This neural connection is most evident when playing in VR. Even though Tetris Effect is currently exclusive to Epic Store, it works with both Oculus and Steam VR. Other than staring straight ahead, there is little to do, but the point is to wrap yourself in the game beyond the reach of reality. The effect of getting stuck in a round of regular Tetris may also have this result.
Still, it’s the point of Tetris Effect, where the mesmerizing dance of falling tetrominoes is lifted to new heights using a fantastic soundtrack and awe-inspiring visuals. That’s just as true today as it was last year, and with the ability to ramp up the experience on PC, it’s hands down the best place to experience everything Tetris Effect has to offer.
It’s Tetris in heart and soul, and the familiar playing field is presented against fantasy backgrounds with songs and sound effects that respond to your actions.