Tetris Effect
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 10

Tetris Effect is not just one of the best looking versions of the classic game, but also the most addictive. In addition to the stylish “Journey” mode, there are a host of other variations on the Tetris theme to keep you coming back for more. The audio and visual style of the game is superb and it is only the lack of direct multi-player modes that dampens the fun a bit. Even if you already own some version of Tetris this is one that you should not miss.

Gameplay: Still a timeless classic.

Graphics: Very trippy and hypnotic.

Sound: Complements the puzzle action nicely

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Tetris Effect

Developer: Monstars Inc. and Resonair | Publisher: Enhance, Inc. | Release Date: 2019 | Genre: Puzzle / Arcade | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Epic Games Store

Alexey Pajitnov worked on a string of puzzle games during his career, but his name will forever be associated with his very first title, Tetris. There are not many other games that can boast the combination of accessibility and addictiveness that has made Tetris a household name since its release in the early eighties. The Tetris legacy has also been kept alive over the years with a version of the game available on virtually every console that has ever been made. The latest in this long line-up is Tetris Effect and it is no understatement to say that it might just be the best version yet.

There are a couple of things that set Tetris Effect apart from the pack, but the most obvious is the involvement of Tetsuya Mizuguchi. He is best known for his work on games like Lumines, which is also where Tetris Effects appears to draw most of its look and feel from. Tetris Effect sticks to the tried and tested Tetris formula, so you still have different shaped blocks, called Tetromios, falling from the top of the playing field. Players have to line up these blocks in such a way that they create unbroken lines, which are then cleared away. Failing to do so will cause the blocks to stack up and if this stack reaches the top of the playing field it’s game over. It is the same simple formula that has been drawing in players of all ages for years and time has done nothing to diminish the “just one more try” nature of the game. In fact, the game is named for the real-life phenomena it causes in some players whereby they see the hypnagogic imagery of falling blocks when falling asleep.

As one might expect with Mizuguchi at the helm, Tetris Effect really lives up to its name. Every one of the thirty plus levels in the game features its own music and visual effects that transform the already hypnotic experience of playing Tetris into something even more hallucinatory. Lumines players will be familiar with how that game merged audio and visuals with puzzle elements to create something that effortlessly draws you in. This style works even better in Tetris as the trippy visuals make a great backdrop for trying to create order out of chaos. The backgrounds become more elaborate the further you get in the game and the color, as well as the style of the blocks, also change. We found ourselves looking forward to each new level just to see what kinds of audio and visual surprises they might hold.

Tetris Effect is also very customizable, so you can have it looking as over the top or minimalist as you like. For those with powerful computers and a fondness of eye candy, there’s everything from the rendering scale and texture filtering to particle volume and size to adjust while purists or those with older computers can simply turn everything down for a more subdued experience. We loved the over the top particle effects, swirling colors, and trippy background visuals of the game, but some players may find them distracting.

Although the catchy Tetris theme is sadly not in the game there is a wealth of other musical tracks spread across a variety of styles. Usually, at the start of a level, the audio is user generated and based on the rotation and movement of the blocks. However, after a few lines have been cleared the full soundtrack begins to kick in along with the swirling background visuals. It is a neat effect and fits the style of the game perfectly. We also recommend playing Tetris Effect with a controller as the game also makes good use of the rumble feature to draw you in even further.

Your first stop in Tetris Effect should be the “Journey” mode which takes you on a tour through the more than thirst levels in the game. Each level requires you to reach a certain number of line clears before you move on to the next and do it all over again. Journey mode has three difficulty settings and can be completed in one sitting, but serves as a nice introduction to the game. After that, you can head over to the “Effect Modes” to find a mode of play that will suit your mood. These range from “Marathon” where you try to get the highest score within a 150-line limit to “Sprint” where you try to clear 40 lines as fast as possible. There’s also a “Master” mode which is insanely fast, “Mystery” mode where you have to survive the random effects that keep popping up, and many others. Each mode keeps track of your high scores and the game also has leaderboards, but unfortunately no direct multi-player modes.

In terms of new gameplay features Tetris Effect introduces the “Zone” mechanic. This can be triggered after filling up a special bar and effectively freezes time so that you can place several blocks without the pressure of having to do so while they are falling from the sky. When the “Zone” time is up all the lines you have filled clears simultaneously, which means it allows you to get higher clears than just a four-line “Tetris.” Making use of the Zone mechanic is not just great for high scores, but can also help out if things get too speedy and you are on the verge of losing. The game also features a hold queue for swapping blocks, but this has been available in other versions already, so it should be familiar to many players.

While Tetris Effect might just look like the same old game from the eighties wrapped up in a pretty new audio-visual package it really is a sum of its parts. The timeless gameplay holds up well and it is the type of game that you can return to at any time and jump right back in. Of course, the pretty new visuals and thumping soundtrack are also a big plus. That’s without even mentioning the VR features of the game which allows you to get more immersed in Tetris than ever before. The only drawback of this game is that it lacks the type of frantic multiplayer modes that we have seen in other Tetris games. Chances are that most people already own a version of Tetris on one of their consoles, handhelds, or phones, but Tetris Effect trumps them all, at least as far as single-player modes are concerned.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7/8/10 (64-bit)
  • Processor: Intel i3-4340
  • Memory: 4GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 750 Ti equivalent or greater
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Hard Drive: 5 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX 11 Compatible
  • Additional Notes: GTX 1070 or greater recommended for VR
  • OS: Windows 7/8/10 (64-bit)
  • Processor: Intel i5-4590 (required for VR)
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 970 equivalent (required for VR)
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Hard Drive: 5 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX 11 Compatible

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