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Tetris Effect review for PS4, PSVR


Platform: PS4, PSVR
Publisher: Enhance Games
Developer: Enhance Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: Yes
ESRB: E

30 years ago Tetris was unleashed upon the world by designer Alexey Pajitnov. Across the years the game has been released in one form or another on well over a dozen different video game platforms, and is easily one of the most recognizable video games in history. So when someone decides to come up with a new variation on Tetris, they definitely have to aim for something unique while at the same time recognizable, making the idea of creating a new Tetris game somewhat daunting. Thankfully, Enhance Games has done just that with the release of Tetris Effect on PS4, and I think anyone who has ever enjoyed a Tetris game will find something to love here.

Enhance Games was also behind the excellent release of Rez Infinite, hailed as one of the best PSVR games on the market. Tetris Effect also takes advantage of the PlayStation VR accessory, but it isn’t necessary to use VR to play. Tetris Effect is certainly enjoyable with or without VR support, so if you don’t own a VR headset, it’s not a huge factor here. That said, if you do have access to PSVR, you’ll get an experience that feels similar to Rez Infinite, which colorful, pulsing visuals swirling around the playing field that adds a bit to the immersion.

Either way, the main draw here is still the core game of Tetris. There are two primary modes in Tetris Effect called Journey, which is essentially a campaign of sorts, and Effect. Journey takes you across visual vistas with unique musical tracks with three different difficulty settings. Stages are typically grouped together, so you’ll move through different visual and musical tracks in one sitting, and then get a small break before tackling the next set. I really enjoyed the way these stages sort of ebb and flow from a difficulty perspective, you’ll start off with a low speed level, speed up a bit, slow back down, and then ramp up again towards the end. This isn’t always consistent either, so Tetris Effect will constantly surprise you. Also, at least on Normal, I wouldn’t call Tetris Effect a cakewalk. As sort of an average Tetris player, there were moments that had me retrying stages again and again.

Effect Mode is the side of Tetris Effect that you’ll likely keep coming back to. There’s a lot of sub-modes here with different requirements and goals, along with accompanying online leaderboards that’ll keep you aiming for higher scores and clears. Some of the more unique modes consist of Mystery, which will trigger both positive and negative sudden changes, like giant blocks, upside down/reverse views, no ghost lines, and more, while Combo mode will test your ability to rack up repetitive line clears. I’m also fond of Countdown, which sets up a timer to drop I-Tetriminos onto the board that you’ll need to plan for and build around. There’s about 15 different games to check out in Effect Mode, and they’re all worth checking out.

Also, the music in Tetris Effect is fantastic. I was a little surprised to not hear the classic Tetris music I think we all associate with the series, but the experience here is exactly what you’d associate with creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi. It’s very much in line with Lumines in that regard, with the music reacting to the way you play, including some neat use of ambient sounds and on the fly music controls allowing you to switch between the ambient music and the standard musical tracks. The colorful visual effects line-up well with the music, with a lot of world-spanning material that culls themes from different cultures and locales in a way that never feels cheesy or out of place. The culmination of everything when hitting that final stage in Journey mode is something else, and is sure to feel impactful regardless of how focused you are on those tiny, falling blocks.

There is no question that Tetris Effect is worth picking up on PS4 when it releases November 9th. It certainly feels like one of the best Tetris games ever made, and adds just enough to the overall formula to feel noteworthy, but not so much that it detracts from the general enjoyment that comes from playing a regular game of Tetris. I’m certainly impressed on both the visual and audio front, and the VR component is just icing on an already delicious cake.

Note: Enhance Games provided us with a Tetris Effect PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A+