“I don’t really play Tetris much anymore, because it’s too addicting,” said one of my friends in an informal chat about gaming. I laughed at the statement, but there was truth to his words – when you get deep into Tetris Effect, you’ll find yourself playing for hours on end. While its core gameplay can be compared to other versions of Tetris, it succeeds as a more engaging and relaxing experience like no other game before it.
One might think that such a simple puzzle game would not require much work from the development team; this assumption is wrong. A lot of care went into how Tetris Effect presents itself – both audibly and visually. From the moment you start up the first level, you’re greeted with a colorful display of light. It creates some awe, but more importantly, it sets the tone for what’s to come. As your eyes are drawn closer into the light, you instantly feel at peace with yourself while the world around you disappears – only to be replaced by blocks that fall from above. Everything about how each level is designed feels so effortless yet thought-out; Tetris Effect takes all of its levels in stride and presents them as if nothing had changed.
The flow of gameplay is further supported by thumping beats that had my head bobbing throughout my playthrough. A beautiful symphony belts itself out while each block falls one-by-one into place. Each block takes on new life, forming bold lines, arcs, and even geometric shapes. It’s almost as if Tetris Effect is trying to help you solve its puzzles; blocks are falling in patterns that make it easier for you to match them with others to form the perfect line. Whether or not this was intentional on the part of Enhance Games, this definitely has an effect on how much fun I had with the game – although I do question whether or not my experience would be better off without it.
As you navigate through Tetris Effect’s main quest, familiar faces will appear in order to guide you throughout your journey across various worlds. These characters give some backstory into what has happened before our protagonist became lost in this world, to begin with. Being able to see your fellow companions reactions as they watch your progress through a puzzle brings a sense of satisfaction that feels almost human. It’s a simple touch, but it works incredibly well.
Do not let Tetris Effect’s seemingly peaceful soundtrack deceive you; underneath the soft sounds of rain and chimes lies an intense challenge for those who want to achieve perfection with their puzzles. I found myself yelling as my blocks fell as if they were mocking me as I struggled to keep up with them – exacerbated by the addition of power-ups that can be used during any given stage. These abilities help move the gameplay along in new ways, however, they do take some getting used to before you’re able to use them effectively in later levels – especially when your life count is low and you’re stuck in a rut.
The only issue I have with Tetris Effect is that it doesn’t really include anything new for those who’ve played other versions of Tetris. It’s understandable because this game isn’t trying to be the next big puzzle game; instead, it stands as its own entity with unique visuals and an immersive score that make it feel right at home on the Oculus Quest. Whether or not you’re familiar with past incarnations of the series, Tetris Effect makes for an excellent escape from reality where gamers can focus on doing what they love – clearing rows without being distracted by outside forces.