If you’ve only played a single video game in your entire lifetime, it was probably Tetris (or at least some variation of it). The game has stood the test of time as the gold standard for puzzle games. There have been so many iterations of the classic over the years that you might think there’s no more room for another. Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his development company, Enhance Games, have proven that thought process wrong with Tetris Effect. It’s hands-down the best Tetris experience I’ve ever had the pleasure playing. Outside of the lack of a co-op feature, this could be considered as the quintessential version of the classic puzzle game. It’s that good.
Perfecting a Classic
How do you capitalize on a game that was already perfect to begin with? Simple. You make it a mesmerizing experience for the player. Every level has it’s own unique theme and soundtrack that makes each time you play feel fresh and exciting. Each turn or drop of a tertromino has a unique sound designed especially for that environment. Even cleared lines affect the background in beautiful fashion.
I can’t stress enough what an incredible experience Tetris Effect is to play. While the original game gets increasingly faster as you progress, this one takes a different approach. You’ll instead have “pockets” of high speed that diminishes after you complete a certain number of lines. This offers a bit of a challenge briefly, and makes the calm moments feel that much sweeter. This truly is a Zen-like experience. I haven’t felt so “in the zone” with a game in quite a long time.
There’s also an added “Zone Meter” that gradually fills as you clear lines. Once activated, the tetrominoes stop falling for a few seconds. During the standstill, you can freely place pieces wherever you like. The goal is to clear as many lines as possible before the time expires. When that inevitably happens, the number of lines you cleared is removed from the bottom of the board. It’s a welcome strategy addition that makes for a fun tweak to the formula and opens up different high score possibilities.
Better With Peripherals
Since this game is only available on PS4, I also had the opportunity to play in VR. What a delight for the senses that turned out to be. Despite merely watching a game board in space, I felt more like I was transported to another place than most VR experience. It’s truly a magical experience that made me want to never take the headset off again. That says something in a world where extended play with other games in PSVR often makes me yearning for a break.
This is also a game that begs to be played with a quality set of headphones. The music and sound affects are just as integral to the experience as the visuals and gameplay. I can’t stress enough just how lovely the original soundtrack for Tetris Effect is. It complements the game so well that I feel like it’s not music I would want to listen to outside of the game. It would be like listening to your favorite film without watching it on screen. Doing so diminishes the experience, and that’s a true credit to the design of this game.
Tetris Effect Final Verdict
The best word I can use to describe Tetris Effect is sublime. It’s utterly fantastic on so many levels, and a game that made me want to replay its campaign over and over. Even if you get bored with the “story mode”, there’s plenty of online leaderboard action to keep you busy. My only wish is that there were some kind of co-op experience to play with a friend on your couch. I fully understand that’s a tall order, but a guy can dream, can’t he? Regardless, it’s a reach for me to make a complaint about an otherwise incredible game. If you’ve ever loved Tetris in your life, you owe it to yourself to try Tetris Effect. You won’t be disappointed, and will be hard pressed to walk away from it.