I’m going to be upfront right here and now: the main reason I decided to write about this is that it’s something I’ve already been playing. This and Elden Ring are pretty much the only games I care about at the moment and I also need to get my weekly writing in. It wasn’t until Tuesday I caught myself playing this as my decompression game before bed, so I’m killing two birds with one stone this week.
A good reason why I’m covering this is that I never actually wrote about Tetris Effect. And this is taking into account that it was on my games of 2020 post. I gave some quick points as to why I really liked it as a take on Tetris but never delved into my obsession with Tetris as a whole. I may not look the part, but I’m actually an on and off Teris obsessive. I’ve been that way most of my life because it’s one of those games that has me enter a complete flow state and I can lose an hour of time in a blink. I usually find myself limiting the time I spend on different versions of the game because I have to get things done. Now that I think about it, I think it might be one of the most obvious signs of my ADD hyper-focusing, but I’ll leave the armchair psychoanalysis for later.
Tetris Effect is Tetris as filtered through Rez and Lumines. It takes the decidedly old school gameplay of Tetris (lining up different shapes to make rows and points) and infuses it with psychedelic visuals. This is the most basic way I can describe the game and I’m not really doing it justice, because it’s so damn pretty. The extensive use of colour, the varying aesthetics based on different elements and locals like deserts, festivals, fires and the ocean, as well as a fantastic soundtrack by the Japanese music group Hydelic, tie things together for an audio-visual feast of a game. It’s possibly my favourite aesthetic take on Tetris possibly ever, makes the whole thing intense, but zen at the same time.
And this comes to a head in the Journey mode. The main selling point, Journey mode is a 27 level single-player campaign that has you going through these levels and clearing a certain number of lines in a given timeframe to progress. The mode is a damn good way of experiencing Tetris if you’re like me and need a different spin on the gameplay, or if you are looking for something new. I also guarantee that the incredible visuals and music I mentioned earlier go a long way to making Journey mode as effective as it is, using music cues when clearing in combos and getting Tetris chains to really make you feel like your making the music as you play. There’s also a new mechanic where you can stop time and can rack up even more ridiculous combos for a short time. Even though I mentioned earlier that the game was intense but zen, I meant that from an audio-visual standpoint. The gameplay in Journey mode is an incredibly chill experience that you can just zone out to, it’s great.
If that’s not your thing, the Effects mode and Multiplayer have you covered. Effects mode is a slew of other singleplayer modes that cover the bases from Marathon and Score attack (called Ultra here) to more unique offerings like Chill Marathon (going as long as you can for a relaxing experience), themed playlists based on Journey mode, a game mode where you get rid of darkness blocks called Purify, and even the inclusion of Master mode, which is just Grandmaster Tetris in everything but name. The multiplayer has head to head for two players and a three-player co-op mode where your screens are shared and you all have to work together to fight AI-controlled bosses, it’s pretty neat from what I’ve seen so far. These are all framed not in terms of difficulty, but in terms of “what the player is in the mood for” and I think that’s a great way of labelling what this game’s mode offering has going for it. Because I usually find myself playing a bit of a lot of modes, even Master when I feel like being a particular challenge mode goblin.
Tetris Effect Connected is the total package when it comes to Tetris these days, with a wonderful variety of single-player modes and some inventive multiplayer modes. I do not hesitate in the slightest when recommending it to new players looking for a good puzzle game, or Tetris veterans like myself. Also, it’s got full VR support and PC and Playstation platformers, so there’s that as well.