There is something truly fascinating about the fact our visual and auditory senses can be stimulated in such a way that we end up becoming fully engrossed within experiences. The Tetris syndrome is an explanation of this in which people who devote so much time and attention to an activity begin to pattern their thoughts and dreams around it. Though it occurs with many video games, it takes its name from Tetris for a reason. This effect is so strong and influential that the recent PlayStation 4 release of Tetris Effect took the syndrome and designed a whole experience around it, even taking the name. Though this is an interesting starting point, Tetris has been around since the 1980s and the question that needs to be answered is does the title still hold up? Spoilers, it damn well does.
Tetris Effect is the creation of Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the video game developer known for titles such as Rez and Lumines. As you can expect then, this is a title all about intense music, stunning visuals and compelling, timeless gameplay. The core gameplay of Tetris Effect sees you dealing with a series of falling blocks within a limited play space that will only disappear when a single line is made. When a block touches the bottom of the play space or another block it will stay there meaning how you manage and navigate these blocks through the small space is key. If the stack touches the top it’s game over, so quick thinking and fast reactions will ensure you don’t fail. So far, standard Tetris.
What makes Tetris Effect so compelling, more so than other versions, is the sheer amount of visual and audio feedback that the title presents. Cleared a line? Instant gratification. Cleared multiple lines? Even more stimulation for you. Every action creates a reaction be it sound, sight or even touch thanks to the controller vibration. Each input and movement that the player makes will give this feedback and in turn create a rhythm that will define the flow of the experience. Depending on the speed of the stage the tempo of the music will change and so too will the way you play, keeping that unique rhythm going for as long as you can.
A new addition to the coreplay gameplay however in this release is the “Zone” mechanic. As you play and clear lines you will fill up your Zone meter which when full will allow you to place several blocks at once, creating the chance to potentially clear a large number of lines in one go while presenting yet another impressive visual show. This along with a leveling system that presents players with challenges to beat are the only real additions in terms of gameplay which is otherwise as solid as you remember it.
The journey mode is Tetris Effect’s take on a campaign in which players will move through numerous stages of increasing difficulty. If the journey through the campaign that Tetris Effect has to offer is not to your liking then fear not, for the title includes a number of different modes. From the classic Tetris experience to a Mystery mode that sees a number of different and unique modifiers affect the play session. Tetris Effect is packed with plenty of content and game modes to enjoy. On top of that pretty much all of them can be customised through a number of options to allow you to create the ultimate Tetris experiences regardless of your taste or mood.
One area of Tetris Effect that falls flat however is the menu navigation and design. Though they fit with the visual design of the whole experience they are filled with unnecessary noise. This can often make it hard to understand the navigation of the menus and lead to more button presses then should be required to get to the option you want. Of course, this is a small negative in what is otherwise a very beautiful designed experience. The only other negative point for some users will be the price. Tetris Effect has a RRP of £34.99 (GBP) which to many might seem like a very expensive way to enjoy what is a title that has been around for many years now. The thing to note is that though Tetris Effect does not change much in terms of the core gameplay, it is an experience that on its own is worth the price tag.
At the end of the day Tetris Effect is a fantastic title for those that are willing to forgive the price tag. Sure, it is the same old Tetris we have come to know and love with a new coat of paint but honestly that is all I could ask for. If you want a truly immersive and beautiful way to enjoy a classic then look no further than Tetris Effect.
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Tetris Effect is a beautiful journey to the rhythm of blocks falling that provides the ultimate means of escapism.