I’ve always been a bit of a Tetris fiend.
I’m not a master of Tetris by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m pretty good at it. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy it so much; there’s actually a chance of me doing alright in it. So when Tetris Effect was announced, a new game to the block-stacking franchise from Resonair and Monstars, I was pretty excited to try it out.
I don’t need to tell you it’s good; if you’ve ever enjoyed Tetris, then no doubt you’ll get a kick out of Tetris Effect, too. But there’s far more to this new version of the game than simply fitting tetronimoes into a grid in order to clear lines. It’s more of an experience, and one that will suck you right in.
Its developers have previously brought us Rez and Lumines, and that inspiration really shows. Sure, the core gameplay in Tetris Effect revolves around assembling shapes, but somehow that feels secondary to the presentation of the game. Like Lumines, the game cycles through a number of themes, each with a different appearance and a very different soundtrack. Music is a huge part of the experience, and whatever song is playing will massively impact how the game feels.
Occasionally, you’ll get a nice, relaxing melody. Your screen will become awash with ocean colours; backgrounds that move like waves, and it’s a lovely, calm experience. But it won’t last. The next song might involve some hardcore drum and bass, and your tetronimoes, dropping in time to the beat, are going so fast that you feel like you need supersonic abilities in order to keep up.
But that’s all part of the fun. Tetris Effect keeps you on your toes throughout, and it’s all the better for it. The constant change in pace – and the changing colours and themes of how the game looks – are tied perfectly to the music, making this very much an audio-led experience. You’ll want to crank up your speakers (or don a decent pair of headphones) if you really want to get the most out of it.
It’s playable in VR, too. I haven’t tried the PSVR version myself, but being very familiar with how VR works, Tetris Effect inside a virtual reality headset will be one hell of an intense experience. Colours explode around you; lights and shapes dance across the screen. It’s a tour de force of visual design, and it’s absolutely beautiful – even played on a standard PS4. But if you really want to get the most out of Tetris Effect, play it on a PS4 Pro coupled with a 4K TV. With crisp visuals at ultra high resolutions and a promised frame rate of 60fps, it’s pretty mind-blowing.
There are a bunch of modes to choose between, all presented with the game’s unique style. Modes you’ll be familiar with such as Marathon, Ultra and Sprint make a return and operate just as you’d expect them to.
There’s a distinct lack of multiplayer though, which is a shame as Tetris Effect is an intense experience that would thrive if it could be shared. My partner and I played together by passing the controller back and forth. It worked, to an extent, allowing us to share in a cacophony of “oohs” as the backgrounds changed – and “arghs” as the game’s speed cranked up to eleven. It’s not quite the same as being able to play head to head, though. But for that we’ll always have Puyo Puyo Tetris, I suppose.
I’ve always kind of enjoyed Lumines, but it always lacked a certain hook. While its music and changing colour palette was endlessly exciting, its gameplay just didn’t have the same long-lasting grab. With Tetris, though, that enticing gameplay is there. And when you couple Tetris‘ classic gameplay with enticing sound and visuals, you get something pretty special indeed.
Tetris Effect is available on PS4.