Editors’ Choice: Why Tetris Effect is One of 2018’s Best Games

9 0
Editors’ Choice: Why Tetris Effect is One of 2018’s Best Games

The purity of a classic puzzler, intertwined with mesmerizing multi-sensory effects, is an unbeatable combination.

A rebuild of a 34-year-old puzzle game on a console powerhouse doesn’t scream game of the year, does it? And yet here we are. And rightly so. Tetris Effect is an utterly compelling game for PS4, whether experienced in PS VR or not.

The puzzler’s purity is unquestionably why it’s as playable in 2018 as it was back in 1984. But there’s a coldness to that perfection — it’s as clinical as a chess game or mathematical equation. Tetris Effect reinvigorates all aspects of the classic with new rhythm-action mechanics that breathe life into the formula without robbing the original concept of its elegance.

The concept is simple, the effect intoxicating as Alexey Pajitnov’s timeless work is reinterpreted by celebrated game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi. The latter takes a lifetime of experimentation with interactive, multi-sensory experiences and lets himself and his team run wild to extraordinary effect.

This is a collaborative dynamic you didn’t see coming. Far from a Frankenstein’s monster: this is as electrifying as a Beethoven/Beyoncé mashup. Tetris has never felt so alive.

Mizuguchi has pedigree in this genre and there’s much of his celebrated PSP puzzler Lumines here. The main spine of Tetris Effect is Journey mode: multiple levels — grouped into playlist-style stages — each with a carefully curated pairing of unique visualizer and original song. The track listing is eclectic, the visuals beautifully abstract.

Every level is reactive to how you play. Tetromino turns add to the song’s beat and ignite an accompanying visual spark, line-clears evolve the level’s look while also increasing the backing track’s tempo and complexity. You’re always chasing high scores, but simultaneously you’re artist, DJ and music video producer.

Cleared lines turn into electronic fish shoals that swim away. A tetromino tap ignites neon light trails onto a quiet city street or cause a sea of drums to beat in unison. Line clear-cued sunrises reveal a sky of twinkling hot air balloons or cause weary desert wanderers to transition into astronauts joyriding on the moon.

Everything is connected and all constructed to further immerse you in a puzzle-solving trance, rewarding you for every success or pushing you to correct any mistake with visual and audio motifs.

You chase multipliers both for the long-term satisfaction of a leaderboard entry and the immediate fix of another sensory explosion. Every change causes eyes to widen, heart to race. Every beat pulsed out of your DualShock 4 is echoed by a nodding head, a tapping foot. It’s mesmerizing, euphoric.

Yet even when you beat Journey mode, there’s reason to return. The longevity of Tetris Effect and the reason it’s now daily routine for me to fire the game up is Effect mode, an all-encompassing label for multiple gameplay variations and community events.

The variations each offer a unique spin on traditional Tetris gameplay (clear 40 lines as fast as you can in Sprint, eradicate ‘dark’ blocks in Purify, or survive random effects in Mystery, for example).

But crucially each highlights your current best score and top grade. It’s a simple but enticing detail: most evenings I’ll scroll through to see which mode I’ll try to do better in (spoiler: it’s the insanely fast Master mode. It’s always Master mode). It’s perfect for three minutes or three hours.

The routine is similar at weekends, but with one key addition: Weekend Rituals. Certain modes will be activated as ‘events’ for 48 hours only, with any points earned across them added to a cumulative total as you — and every other player on the planet — try and hit a high score milestone before the clock runs out.

While other online games idolize single victors, it’s lovely to see Tetris Effect celebrate community achievement, with the game’s social feed name-checking each contribution. It feels rewarding to be part of a larger whole, feeding a competitive urge to be the contributor with the biggest points share and giving me a reason to try out different modes.

Overall, it’s a brilliantly conceived package. Pure. Beautiful. Alive. It’s equally joyous, addictive, stressful, chilled, manic. It’s hard to discuss Tetris Effect without slipping into seemingly contradictory superlatives. Yet these juxtapositions happily coexist here, perfectly locking into place like well-placed-tetrominos.

What was your favorite game of 2018? Click here to vote in the PlayStation.Blog Game of the Year 2018 Awards!

Comments are closed.


  • It isn’t even really a VR game. It seems to me you’re just trying to hype one of PSVR’S more expensive games. There are much better PSVR games than one that isn’t even really VR.

    • How does it “seem” they’re trying to “hype” tetris? They barely even mention it’s a vr game in the beginning. “Seems” you’re the one who thinks it’s a vr only game when it’s clearly good either way

    • I’m a Sony user, have been for years. I love Sony, but let’s not act like they care about what they customers have to say. If you guys really cared, some of the fan favorites from PS3 would still be game of the year on PS4. I’d pay 70 bucks a piece for some old Tony Hawks.

  • No doubt. After playing the demo I was left scratching my head at both the VR and the price. After the last outting of Tetris you would think we wouldnt be extorted like this…!

  • Definitely another excellent PSVR exclusive, adds just enough to the formula while adding in the visual and audio flair of lumines. The refresh rate of the HMD also makes the game feel much more responsive then any prior version of Tetris. It’s no beat saber but for fans of Tetris this is one of the best ways to experience it.

  • That PS VR does look cool, but I’m not about to spend another whop of money when the PS4 has no good games. Call of Duty and GTA are the only one with real replay value. I’m honestly looking towards Xbox. Sony hasn’t impressed me much with the PS4. You left behind all the good games at PS3, and only want to bring back cruddy ones that nobody but a bunch of gamers girlfriends want to play, like Spyro and Crash. Can we get a Skate 3 or a need for speed underground or a midnight club dub edition? I feel like this system isn’t geared towards the American crowd, I mean honestly, Persona looks decent but who the heck even knew what that was? And all those other cool anime based games that look super cool but are rpg like Pokémon. You guys gotta get it together. I’m just a user expressing his views, even though this will go unheard. Sony, you guys have the power, do better.

    • If you’re the kind of person who only considers M rated games with drab color schemes worth your time and uses phrases like “gamers girlfriends” then chances are you will be much happier on the XBOX. Enjoy playing Halo with a bunch of other like minded gamers who won’t stop screaming obscenities in your ear.

  • Expert Tetris players must be in a trance from the visuals and music. The performances are surreal.

  • I am making over 7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people say to me how much money they can make connected so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my existence. This is what I do……. w­w­w.T­a­g­3­0.c­o­m

Please enter your date of birth.