Admittedly, I am not the biggest Tetris fan. Endlessly flipping tiles was never an appealing venture, but it has persevered through numerous iterations and that speaks to the staying power of this franchise. You can find it on practically any console and while I’ve skipped almost every new iteration, Tetris Effect drew me in immediately once the announcement trailer dropped.
(Credit to Playstation)
Adding scaling music and visual cues based of your actions turns Tetris into an addictive rhythm game. It turns the mundane, which can occur during long playthroughs, into something relaxing and hypnotic, even when the difficulty starts to ramp up. With every 10 lines you are transferred to a new visual setting and updated music. When not playing on VR, this isn’t as big of a distraction. You’ll be able to react to the new speed even while the background changes and new animations populate the screen.
With the PSVR headset on it can be incredibly difficult to complete some of the later levels due to the sheer amount of visual effects on screen. By the end of a level, you might become overwhelmed and distracted. I recommend completing the level without the headset first to get your bearings. Don’t worry, you can still experience all of the visual and auditory wonder in a relaxation mode that allows the level to just play. You can still interact with the controls if you wish. but I found myself just relaxing on the couch letting things play out.
There are two modes, Journey and Effect, with the latter acting as a campaign in which you will progress through a series of levels until you reach the final stage. You can adjust the difficulty, which affects your final grade and upon completion you’ll unlock the aforementioned relaxation mode. Effect is where you can experiment with different playlists, compete against the community for top scores, and play new modes. The playlists will update weekly with different challenges and it is nice to see your progress tracked as you endlessly flip tiles to an incredible soundtrack.
On that note, the music for Tetris Effect is infectiously charming, upbeat, soothing, and needs it’s own standalone release asap. The music is diverse and you’ll be hard pressed to find a track that doesn’t fit. What makes it so special is how it perfectly attuned to the gameplay. Every flip, drop, and line wipe adds to the composition, which makes you want to complete the level to eventually reach the crescendo. Simply put, it’s brilliant and addictive.
While there aren’t many changes to the tried and true formula outside of a “zone” meter, which once activated will slow down time and allow you to wipe multiple lines at once, Tetris Effect is the perfect game to pick up and play at your leisure. There is enough diversity to keep you entertained and challenged for as long as you want. Turning the series into a relaxing and hypnotic rhythm game was just what the series needed to stay relevant in an increasingly complex gaming landscape.
Tetris Effect is a game for everyone and one of the best surprises of the year.