I’ve never been a friend of Tetris. It has been with me since the dawn of time, on every kind of electronic device I’ve had, but still - it’s never really gotten to me. Until now.
Tetris Effect is the usual puzzler, you put down blocks to form lines, but what the developers have done is made it into an experience. They use sound, music and visual effects to create immersion. They succeed splendidly, as every block you place and line you clear, builds upon the experience. I can honestly say that my heart start pumping faster and I get exhilarated … from Tetris!
There is a journey mode that has about 30 levels. Each level has a different theme and you complete the level by clearing 36 lines on normal difficulty. During the level the speed of which the blocks fall will change, and together with the music this creates an experience of being stressed or being relaxed. The game play and the “experience” mix perfectly into each other.
Tetris Effect has altered the original formula slightly. You can speed up the falling by pressing down, but you can also drop immediately. In order to help out, the game will always outline where the block would appear if you drop it. This makes for some really quick tetrising even on low speeds.
You have two storage spots where you can store Tetris bricks. If you get a brick and do not know where to put it - place it into storage. If you have another brick on that storage spot you will get it instead or you’ll get a new from the queue.
You can always see the next brick in queue and that is essential for the higher speeds. You only look at the next brick and figure out where to place it before it becomes the active brick.
What also is new is that you can stop time. For each line you clear you build up a meter and with this you can stop time. When time is stopped you try to clear as many lines as possible and once time starts again they will all be cleared simultaneously. This is very useful if you managed to put yourself in a tight spot.
On normal difficulty I got about 2/3 the way though before I hit a difficulty wall. The game was dropping blocks too fast for me and I couldn't see a way of dealing with it. So, I scaled the difficulty down to "Beginner" and finished the game. I think it is very player friendly to allow this, and you can always go back to Normal if you want to try that hard part again.
I did go back to Normal, but I did it in VR. From experience, my twitch reflexes gets much improved in VR because you're no longer looking at the game, you're in the game. In VR I managed to clear the hard level and I managed to finish the whole game. The sense of accomplishment when you complete the last level, the speed is cranked up to 13 and you still feel that you manage - that feeling is only rivaled by dark souls.
I'm very happy with this game. I had no idea that Tetris could be this addictive in 2019. When I'm not playing the game, I'm thinking about the game, and every time I start my PS4 I default to Tetris. This game is just so incredible.