Tetris Effect Review13/11/2018
I will admit that sitting here right now, in front of my laptop, I have all my tools for writing a review for Tetris Effect. Coffee is my beverage of choice with 2 creams 3 sugars, don’t judge, I am a parent that wakes up too early every day! I have sultry sounds of Fleetwood Macs “Rumours” for background music. I have my notes that I have taken from my multiple sessions sitting down with the game. I have all the tools I need to write a review for Tetris Effect, and yet I am having the damndest of time trying to articulate how I feel about this game. Put a PlayStation VR headset and surround sound headphones on and you will discover that this is much more than a game, it is a spiritual experience. Resonator and Monstars Inc have crafted the most immersive version of blocks falling ever with Tetris Effect!
For the sake of any younger readers, let’s answer the question “What is Tetris?” (Don’t laugh folks, I have met younger people that had no clue who Nirvana is!) Tetris is a matching puzzle game that came out in 1984. Tetris was created by Alexey Pajitnov, an artificial intelligence researcher working for the Soviet Academy of Sciences at Computer Center in Moscow. Tasked with testing the capabilities of new hardware, Pajitnov would do so by writing simple games for them. His colleagues enjoyed Tetris and it would be released on PC and the rest is history. Tetris has been released on many electronic devices over the years, including iPods! So chances are you have a device within 5 feet of you that you can, and probably have, play Tetris on.
But enough of the history lesson, l wanna talk about Tetris Effect! I find that it’s a testament to the games legacy that even after 34 years, the gameplay itself has altered ever so little. They say that there is no reason to try and fix something that is not broken, and the 170 Million units sold over the game’s legacy agrees with the statement. In fact, the only thing that was added to the game is the Zone Meter. When your Zone Meter is full, you can enter the Zone Mode (Sorry Maverick, no Danger Zone this time) by pressing either R2 or L2. When you do this, time stops, freezing the falling blocks at the top of the screen until you decide to move them. This racks up the points you make by a LOT. Those of you that are gunning for the coveted SS ranks will, no doubt, need to learn to master the technique early on.
Let’s start with Journey Mode. You won’t stop believing that there was a lot of creativity that went into the design of each of the 30+ levels. Each level truly feels like it is a living entity. Whether the player is a seasoned vet or a newcomer, there is something for everyone. The Journey Mode offers up a difficulty level from Beginner to Hard. The levels are set up as clusters of 3-5 levels at a time with a completion time sitting around the 2-hour mark, of course depending on your skill level. Despite still being a Tetris game at heart, the levels will find a way of evoking different emotions from you.
The combination of the way the music is constructed around your every move and the visuals takes you on a journey. There is a level that was Fire themed in which every time you turned your shape, an African sounding drum would beat, and as you completed each of the 30 lines needed to pass the level, the music became more intense. The show of fire became more intense. Did I feel a sense of Fear? Dread? As I neared completion the game extrapolated on that feeling by making the pieces fall faster. It made the sense of relief all the better when I emerged victorious at the end of the level. On the other side of the coin though, the very first level, The Deep, is very calming. As you complete the lines, you will see Stingrays flying around. The song that plays has a calm feel about it, it is all therapeutic!
Journey Mode is, in itself, a journey. Though I feel that the charm of Tetris Effect is really felt in Effects Mode. This mode offers you 15 different levels spread between 4 different categories. We have the Classic category, which is more or less the most standard version of Tetris. There are levels that challenge your skill level, the Insanely fast lines level is a real doozy! The Relax category that offers you levels which you cannot get a game-over from. Even if you reach the top of the level, the board will be cleared and you will have an empty slate. The Focus category have time challenges that require you to do certain actions by the time the timer runs out. You are able to earn bonus time as you perform these actions. Performing the actions as well as strengthening your combos is the best way to walk out with a high score. Finally, we have the Adventourous category. Things can get pretty goofy in this mode as the game itself is actually tampered with. Imagine trying to play the game and then it suddenly flips upside down! Your skills will definitely be put to the test as you try to navigate around the board as they try to mess with you like a big brother that is trying to scare you on Halloween night!
Everything you do in the game will gain you experience points that unlock different avatars that you can use when playing the game online. Of course, I should mention that playing does not mean it is multiplayer. It would have been neat to see a multiplayer option where you could play side by side against an opponent. I do understand why they would omit this as it would take away from the flow that is placed so well with music and visuals. The online mode is only there to compare your scores against others.
Tetris Effect is, hands down, the best Tetris game I have ever played. If you had told me a year ago that I would be excited to sit down for another session of block building, I would’ve laughed, but here we are! Played in the Flat mode is still a fun experience, but strapping on the PSVR takes the game to new heights that left me saying that Tetris Effect is the best VR experience that I have had to date.