This title is exclusive to PS4 and PSVR, and was reviewed as such.
There’s no denying the popularity of Tetris. The game has stood the test of time with its easy-to-learn, hard-to-master gameplay, and was the game that pretty much made the Game Boy the top seller it was back in the day. I have played and owned my fair share of Tetris ports, from the original Game Boy to the fantastic Tetris DS, and now, I’ve been tasked with playing the brand new Tetris Effect, a modern version of this classic. How does it fair? Let’s find out.
For the most part, Tetris Effect is classic Tetris. The game features constantly spawning blocks, known as Tetrominos, and you have to make lines with these blocks. Every time you manage to get a full line of blocks, the line clears, and you score points. The more lines you clear at once, the more points you get. Clearing four lines at once earns you the elusive ‘TETRIS’ bonus, which is how you score big quickly. None of this classic gameplay is tarnished in Tetris Effect, meaning that people familiar with the game can dive straight in.
The main hook of the game here is the levels themselves. Each level has its own theme to it, whether it be a wooden, steampunk-esque stage, an underwater vista, or a prayer circle, and each one reacts to your actions in game. Every time you clear lines, the backdrop of the level gets more and more fleshed out, and clearing big combos or getting ‘TETRIS’ can cause a massive shift in the visuals. That’s not all, the music also changes with your actions, to the point where simply moving or rotating your block contributes to instruments in the music. It’s done very well though, as even spamming the X Button as I did sounded like it actually made sense with the music. The further you get in the stage the more intense the music gets too, often adding more instruments or vocals the closer to the end you get. The way that the game reacts to your actions makes it infinitely more engaging, and my first playthrough through each stage was always exciting, as I would push through to see what would change in each level, and even themes with songs that weren’t my cup of tea were enjoyable for this reason. Admittedly, some of the effects can get a bit distracting, and I did misplace blocks because I was staring in awe at the effects. However, you can go to the settings and decrease the effects if need be.
The game has 2 modes of play: Journey and Effects. Journey mode is your standard campaign, where you run through stages in a linear order. These stages are usually pieced together in groups of 4, which you can play back-to-back, or if it gets too difficult you can do them one at a time. You get graded on your performance in each group, which encourages replayability as you’ll want to get the highest grade you can in each stage. There’s also a little bonus if you beat all of the stages in Journey mode.
Effects Mode is a little different. It has you take on levels and modifiers selected by other players around the world. There’s a variety of game modes and levels to tackle, such as the 150-line Marathon mode, the 30 second Sprint mode, or the insanely fast Master mode. All of these modes and modifiers add more life to the game, and they do a great job. My only complaint is that these modes are just modified versions of the basic Tetris gameplay. This point is largely moot to people who haven’t played Tetris DS, but seeing how different the modes in that game were makes me wish the extra game modes in Tetris Effect were more game-changing.
Tetris Effect is simply fantastic. It takes the untarnished and classic Tetris gameplay and adds some real flair to it. The way the game’s visuals and audio react to your gameplay makes it incredibly engaging and fun to play. The sheer variety of visual themes are also all enjoyable too, and are all engaging on their first viewing even if they aren’t your style. The Effects Mode and its modifiers, alongside the Journey Mode’s grading system, makes the game very replayable too. My only complaints are minor, whether it be that the effects can be a bit distracting or if the modes aren’t as varied as the ones in Tetris DS. Other than those two very minor complaints, this is Tetris at its best.