Tetris Effect – Why you owe it to yourself to play some puzzle games

Tetris. It’s pretty much the gold standard of puzzle games. If you’ve been playing video games most of your life, it’s likely you’ve come across this game at least once in it’s multiple forms. In this new edition, all the charm from past Tetris games is here and in (wait for it) full effect.

Im sorry for that.

My first experience playing Tetris dates back to the original on the Gameboy. I can remember playing it on long trips up north, but being young, it was pretty hard to play. In my teens, I received a dual copy game with my first xbox (and last xbox oddly enough?). Back in the days when developers couldn’t get their game out to enough people, my system came with Star Wars Episode II: The Clone Wars and Tetris Worlds.

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I had to find the copy, to show how awful a pairing this was for Tetris.

And spoiler alert while we’re at it, that Clone Wars game was terrible and only played once. That Tetris game would be one that I played so often I somehow became used to not blinking for hours. Tetris Worlds was also my first introductions to an online service in the early days of Xbox. I remember constantly comparing my scores to the online leaderboards and totally being engrossed in the game. And this is a bit of my shame as a gamer, I rented a bunch of games back then, but for the Xbox in particular, this would be the only game I would ever own.

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So its safe to say Tetris has always had a good hold on me. With Tetris Effect that pull became greater. Tetris Effect is a wonderful refresh of an already stellar formula. I say this mainly as I haven’t played another Tetris game since Tetris Worlds. It keeps to the standard formula of moving and rotating Tetrominos to their appropriate space. There are added tools such as the line clear for Journey mode and just like in past games movement of the pieces feels solid. There were only a few moments during very fast speeds that I fat-thumbed the down directional button and placed a piece in the worst position. But as this is a new edition, and as it has also been developed for VR, this particular edition is mainly focused on the visuals and the music. I may buy a PSVR just for this game, am I crazy?

As you can see, the game is very much focused on creating ambient procedural music as much as it is playing Tetris. Each movement of your piece contributes to the music playing in the background and this increases as speed ramps up. I’ll be honest though, it’s going to take you a little bit to get used to playing at the higher speed levels. I’d say the example above is me at my best after about two weeks of playing this game off and on.

Speaking of which, that 1989 skin that makes the game look like the classic edition of Tetris is only unlocked at level 50. It takes awhile, but if there are continual unlocks from the Weekly Ritual events, I will keep playing this game forever.

I remember back to a time when I owned a PSP, and my last fix for this kind of entertainment lived there. I owed Lumines and played the ever living hell out of it during down times when I was in college. Before that it was only Tetris Worlds. I sat from sun up to sun down playing Tetris Worlds. I played it more than KOTOR.

The Journey mode is just plain awesome.

What Tetris Effect made me remember is that we need games like this every now and again. I say this as someone who has played a lot of games in his life: vary your content. I am currently playing the remaining stranger missions in Red Dead 2, Hitman 1 and 2, and parts of Yakuza Kiwami. Basically, I’m playing too many of the same games and Tetris came around at just the right time to break that all up. To anyone who has played a Tetris game it’s just as good, if not better than before. Solving this spacial puzzle makes me feel like a wiz. They should put that on the back of the box next time. It’s also great to say that in 2018, one of the best games of the year is Tetris.


-Joseph Reyna


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