Tetris is one of those games that have achieved legendary status over the years by withstanding the test of time and evolving in addictive new ways. With Tetris Effect, Tetsuya Mizuguchi aimed to do the same, and he has succeeded to a great extent. His take on Tetris is that of an interactive visualization of rhythm and music, one that taps into your imagination and evokes your senses.
On a fundamental level, Tetris Effect is still very much the same classic puzzle game you’ve experienced over the years, but with one major difference – your actions govern the audiovisual experience that encompasses the gameplay. Things as minor as rotating or moving the active block piece will affect the music being played and the visual effects on display. It’s a wonderful showcase of particles and effects, and it truly shines in HDR. Playing in VR takes the experience to another level, however. The audiovisual impact is all the more immersive and you feel more a part of the experience compared to playing it on a standard display. The studio has succeeded in delivering a spectacle much like the Area X level in its previous title Rez Infinite.
Of course, there’s more to Tetris Effect than its visual splendor. While the gameplay is largely a known quantity, where you’re essentially trying to neatly arrange blocks and form lines, there are some interesting twists added to this iteration of the iconic puzzle game.
There are two main modes to play through, namely Journey and Effects. Journey mode lets you play through over 30 unique levels, each with their own audiovisual theme. There are three difficulty levels to choose from. Playing well at higher difficulties nets you a higher score. Clearing all the levels in Journey mode unlocks a Cinema mode, which lets you experience each of the levels without having to worry about the gameplay.
A new mechanic called Zone is added to Journey mode. As you fill rows with block pieces, your Zone meter is also filled up. Once filled up, it temporarily allows you to stop time and prevent the block pieces from falling. The idea behind this mechanic is to give you the opportunity to make a comeback from losing scenario. All rows that you fill up while Zone is triggered will pile up at the bottom of the stack of blocks. Once you exit Zone, these stacked blocks get destroyed in a visually spectacular manner.
Effects mode consists of a series of special challenges, each with its own rules. You could find yourself playing a marathon mode or a combo mode. There’s also a unique mystery mode that throws tons of effects your way in order to distract you and complicate the game for you.
In addition, not only does Effects mode let you compete with the community via online leaderboards, but it also lets you collaborate with others to gather group points during weekend rituals that last for a day. If the individuals collaborating manage to reach the target score, each of them unlocks rewards such as special avatars.
The only glaring disappointment with the game is the lack of a proper competitive multiplayer mode. Some form of local multiplayer mode between VR and non-VR players, as done in several other PSVR games, could also have been interesting. It’s a noticeable omission that hurts the game’s longevity to a certain extent.
At the end of the day, Tetris Effect is still a Tetris game. Zone mode adds a nice twist to the core gameplay, but the primary reason to give the game a go is the audiovisual experience layered on top of it. It’s a rhythmic particles and effects showcase on regular displays, but playing in VR elevates it to a spectacle that every PSVR owner should experience.
Tetris Effect Review (PSVR)
Game Reviewed on: PSVR
Game description: Tetris® Effect is Tetris like you've never seen it, or heard it, or felt it before—an incredibly addictive, unique, and breathtakingly gorgeous reinvention of one of the most popular puzzle games of all time, from the people who brought you the award-winning Rez Infinite and legendary puzzle game Lumines.
Final Score - 8.5/108.5/10
Tetris Effect is fascinating particles and effects showcase on regular displays, but playing in VR elevates it to a spectacle that every PSVR owner should experience.