REVIEW: ‘Tetris Effect’ Takes Puzzle Games to a New Level (PS4)

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Tetris Effect

Tetris Effect, the new PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR title, is the brainchild of Tetsuya Mizuguchi and the team at Enhance Games. Coming off of his success with Rez Infinite, Mizuguchi combined the knowledge implemented in games such as Rez, Lumines, and Child Of Eden, into Tetris Effect. That being said Tetris Effect is far more than just a puzzle adventure. Instead, it becomes an enlightening and spiritual gaming experience that uplifts the player.

Tetris isn’t anything new, but in this game, it certainly feels like it. The original Tetris was created by computer engineer, Alexey Pajitnov, and went through quite a journey to get released. Coming from the computer labs of The Soviet Union, Tetris made its way onto PC’s, and then subsequently the Nintendo Entertainment System and Nintendo Gameboy. Following its release on this system, Tetris the most wildly successful game of all time, with 170 million copies sold across nearly every entertainment platform possible. It is a record that is still held today. 

Tetris Effect is a game that draws inspiration from the results of a scientific research study conducted at Harvard. A set of players, some with anterograde amnesia, were tasked with playing Tetris for long periods of time. Remarkably, during the onset of sleep, the participants observed falling shapes and lines. These shapes would appear, rotate, and even disappear. These patients would recall these vivid images, but they couldn’t recall ever playing the game. This was known as the Tetris Effect.

Following this, other studies and observations have been accounted for. In 1994, Jeffrey Goldsmith remarked in Wired Magazine the imagery of falling shapes and long Tetris sessions on his couch. In 2009, a London Medical facility conducted brain scans and reported thicker grey matter in the brains of Tetris players. This thickness is responsible for memory retention and recollection. Tetris has certainly made its rounds in the scientific and medical community, and with Tetris Effect, that mysterious effect is translated into a remarkable gameplay experience.

Tetris Effect

In Tetris Effect, the traditional rules of Tetris apply. The objective of each level is to clear a set amount of lines, building the score and score multiplier. With various shapes falling, the goal is to form a complete line and work your way through each section. Ideally, players will want to build their lines, then use a line shape to clear multiple lines at once. Players have various customization options to help them play the game, including the hold shape queue and its appearance. Players need to be careful with their time and spacing, as too many uncleared lines will eventually build to the top, leading to a “Game Over.”

Tetris Effect is a visual paradise of pristine starscapes and elegant wonder that will delight the heart and empower the soul for those who play it. Each of the 30 stages explodes in a vibrant kaleidoscope of color and substance, deeply diving into the focus of the player and enveloping your senses in a blanket of imagination, warmth, and untapped energy. From the moment their journey begins, players are in for something that has never been experienced before. This sensation is coupled with a soundtrack that absolutely encompasses the emotional range of the human soul.

While Tetris Effect can be played without VR, my entire playthrough consisted of using the PlayStation VR headset, further enhancing the visual and audio sensations into an immersive dream-like experience. Dolphins, glowing with light. swim in front of the player, and great city vistas envelop the player. Visually, the game is extraordinarily fulfilling but not overwhelming. Tetris Effect takes players from mountains to volcanoes and features a soundtrack that ranges from indigenous tribal chants to jazz, hip-hop, and so on. While the core mechanics remain the same as they have for decades, small refinements and additions better the experience.

As players clear their lines, they will build their ZONE meter. This meter slows downtime and allows players to build their own Tetris chains, dealing massive points and providing a moment to the players to clear accumulating lines. Additionally, the speed of the falling shapes, along with their colors and distinctions are timed to the music, along with the vibration functions of your controller. There is a strong sense of synergy with Tetris Effect that I haven’t experienced in a game before. Additionally,  as mentioned before, there are customization options and several difficulty settings to tailor the experience to the player’s liking. In addition to multiple difficulty setting and 30 levels, an online multiplayer mode will keep players engaged long after the credits roll. 

In my playthrough, I thought about my own life and things that I have experienced. Long twisted memories arose but I made peace with them. The memories of good, the aspects of my life now and what is to come in the future were emboldened. Somehow, in playing Tetris Effect, I was reminded of every good, heartwarming memory, and reminded of the importance of having had them. Old relationships, events, graduations, dinners, what matters is that moment that was spent and the laughs and smiles that were made. It was inspiring and uplifting and is a game feedback I haven’t experienced since Flower from that game company.

Tetris Effect is a game I cannot recommend enough for everyone. For Tetris, a game introduced to the world almost forty years ago, it is a milestone and testament to polished game design, bringing something so simple and only making subtle changes to the overall experience. Meshed together with Tetsuya’s vision, Tetris ascends to new heights and transcends what games can be. Games can put players on adventures to experience great stories, but for Tetris Effect, it is a game that opens itself into the hearts of players and onto the very bridge of why humans play video games. That bridge is a connection, that in this wild world we live in, we are human. For me, that is an achievement worth celebrating.

Tetris Effect
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL; DR

There is a strong sense of synergy with Tetris Effect that I haven’t experienced in a game before. Additionally, as mentioned before, there are customization options and several difficulty settings to tailor the experience to the player’s liking. In addition to multiple difficulty setting and 30 levels, an online multiplayer mode will keep players engaged long after the credits roll.

2 Comments on “REVIEW: ‘Tetris Effect’ Takes Puzzle Games to a New Level (PS4)”

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