Tetris is Tetris, right? After seeing seemingly endless iterations of the classic puzzler release over the years, I never thought that there’d be a way to really improve upon the existing formula. I mean, it’s just dropping blocks, making lines, and scoring points – you can’t really fancy that up all that much.
Never have I been more wrong. Tetris Effect, the new version of the game from Lumines and Rez publisher Enhance, isn’t only the best version of Tetris that I’ve ever played, but also one of the best games I’ve played this year. It’s kept me absolutely hooked to my PlayStation VR headset as of late thanks to its absolutely stunning take on the classic puzzler, and I can’t see me stepping away from it anytime soon.
It feels insulting to describe what Tetris is in depth because I’m sure just about every gamer out there has played it in some shape or form. Gameplay-wise the formula remains the same in Tetris Effect, with the player clearing lines and racking up high scores in the process. It does throw in a few unique ideas though, such as the ‘Zone’ meter which builds up as you score points – once full, you can activate a power which allows you to freeze time, move the blocks around, and essentially score a multitude of lines at once. It’s a temporary ability, but it’s a good way to rack up some points or get yourself out of a potentially game-ending situation. Tetris purists might not be a fan of the feature but I actually found that it bettered the experience, especially during some of those games where you see what could be a massive score slip away because of one little mistake.
Whilst the core experience of Tetris Effect is based around playing Tetris though, it’s not the puzzling itself that makes it feel so special. Instead, it’s the way that you’re drawn into a selection of fantastical worlds full of sights and sounds that are each presented in stunning ways. This is where Tetris Effect really shines on PlayStation VR and why I don’t think I could play the game any other way now.
The sense of presence that these effects bring is astounding. You’ll have a myriad of impressive and vivid sights surround you in-game, be it a snowy mountain, beautifully lit dolphins, camels marching across the sand, or even just a variety of different shapes. That’s just listing a small selection too, and believe me, words alone don’t give them the justice they deserve. It’s just so hard not to feel wowed by it all – it’s not just the sights that’ll blow you away though, but the enchanting soundtrack too which seems to give each thing you see a perfectly fitting melody to go along with it.
The sights and sounds react to how you’re doing in the game, with each line you make causing everything to change around you. The blocks that are dropping react to the music too, with them each having their own sound effects when you turn them around as they fall and even hitting their own beat when they land on the board. It’s just fascinating, and all these little touches make the whole experience feel more and more entrancing. Tetris Effect is just beautiful in every shape and form.
The main game mode of Tetris Effect is ‘Journey’, which sees you work through a multitude of stages with each one following a different theme. The goal is always the same (to get 36 lines) whilst some start at different speeds and with some blocks already on the board. It shouldn’t take players too long to work through the whole of the mode, but varying difficulties and score-chasing will certainly act as an incentive to keep players coming back for more.
Outside of ‘Journey’, there are also additional modes such as ‘Marathon’ that sees you trying to get as high a score as possible, ‘Ultra’ which challenges you to clear as many lines as you can in a specific time, ‘Relax’ which offers a variety of game types with no fail states for a more peaceful experience, and ‘Mystery’ which challenges the player with a variety of random effects (some good, most bad). That’s just naming a few of the modes too, with Tetris Effect jam-packed with different ways to play – believe me, you shouldn’t expect to be done with the game quickly.
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), PlayStation 4