Review: Tetris Effect – PS4

Tetris is one of the most influential video games of all time, spawning multiple variants, with a simple but enduring game-play that has survived the technological advancement of consoles and the PC. It is no wonder then, that the game Tetris Effect by Japanese studios Monstars Inc. and Resonair not only adds another solid title in a massive Tetris library, but also manages to “introduce” the classic game in a current-gen setting.

Where other Tetris-variants tried to introduce huge changes to the game, Tetris Effect made sure that the core Tetris gameplay still applies. This means players would still try to place tetrominos in a playfield to clear complete lines.

The biggest change is the introduction of the “zone” mechanic which allows players to place several blocks at once, making you “collect” lines enroute to potentially clearling out more than sixteen lines simultaneously (the decahexatris). Much rarer is the “Ultimatris” which sees you clearing out 20 lines. The game also introduces a level-up system where new challenges are made available to the player as they progress.

Tetris Effect is divided by two major modes: The Journey Mode which is the game’s equivalent of a campaign mode. The heart of Tetris Effect, this is the mode where the “zone” mechanic is available. You basically progress through various stages and levels with different themes ranging from fire, to the desert, to underwater.

The other is called “Effect Mode” which comprises of all the other modes available in the game with varying setups and rules to suit your particular needs. There is a “classic mode” category which has the core tetris gameplay plus some modifiers that will challenge you.

The other catergory is aptly called “Relax” which, as its name implies, offer a more “relaxed” experience with games that feature no game-overs, perfect for those who wanted a continuous “at my pace” game.

There are also other categories named “Focus” and “Adventurous”, both also featuring category-specific challenges.

But to tell you the truth? I only played the Journey Mode and the Relax Category of the Effect Mode, and already I feel as if I have found the modes I am looking for. For one of the great things about this game is that it is accessible to ANYONE. From the most seasoned and dedicated Tetris player, to the “I haven’t played Tetris in years” folks like me.

Tetris Effect decided not to reinvent the wheel, but innovate it instead. The biggest factor in what makes this game so good is that the core is still the same. The same puzzles that had enthralled the millions who have played Tetris through the years is still there. What is new is that Tetris Effect assaults your senses, adding a hypnotic element to a game that already has your brain working over-time to keep one step ahead.

The blend of sights and sounds fuse together into one hypnotic session after another, with your adrenaline pumping along the beat of a fire-themed stage. Other reviews have commented on how distracting the animations can sometimes be when the game suddenly revs up to full-speed. But I didn’t see it that way, or at least, it wasn’t distracting to me. Sure, the image of a circle of worshippers suddenly whipping into a frenzy when your speed goes from 2 to 6 at the blink of an eye can be jarring at times, but for me, it made the adrenaline pumping, forcing me to make a split-second decision whether to let the background consume me, or keep my focus and try to clear the level. Simply put, this is how Tetris is supposed to be played today: the assault on your senses are merely another challenge to be hurdled by players.

And the game does reward those who play on a high level. Notice I said “on” and not “at“, for even though Tetris Effect has difficulty levels, anyone who plays on a high level in whatever difficulty, will be rewarded. It doesn’t matter if your level is at “Beginner”, a Decahexatris is a Decahexatris.

Lastly, this game can be played with a normal TV just fine, but it is meant to be played on the PlayStation VR. In addition to your sight and sound senses being stimulated, the VR puts you into the game, letting you immerse yourself allowing the game to consume you.

It is no wonder that this game survived my hard drive purge to prepare for Red Dead Redemption 2. Tetris Effect is a solid game worthy of being added into the massive Tetris library (of Tetris and its variants). It is a game made with love of the classic, and strives to improve the experience by engaging both sight and sound to complement the brain-stimulating levels of the Journey Mode.

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