Tetris Effect Review

This is the upgrade Tetris fans didn't know we needed.

by Dylan Siegler
Tetris Effect review

Everybody knows Tetris. It’s one of the most well-known and successful video game franchises in the world. Interestingly, what started off as a very simple puzzle game ended up spawning a whole series of games, each of which presents a new take on the 1984 classic. The latest installment in this series is Tetris Effect, a game that takes the Tetris we all know and love and adds all kinds of visual effects and entrancing music to create a whole new kind of experience.

It’s immersive in a way that a simple puzzle game has no business being.

The gameplay of Tetris Effect is mostly the same as anyone who has played a Tetris game before would expect. Blocks fall and you try to stack them to make lines and earn points. It’s a very simple concept, but one that has obviously stood the test of time, and for good reason. It’s a fun, addictive game. Tetris Effect, however, goes beyond just being a fun little game; it’s immersive in a way that a simple puzzle game has no business being. All the hypnotizing visuals suck you in, transporting you to another world. And there are over thirty of these worlds to play through, each presenting their own visual style. You’ll play through most of these stages in the game’s main campaign, and the constantly changing graphics will ensure that you never get bored, even if the gameplay amounts to the same things in each stage (at the end of the day, you are still playing a bunch of Tetris). There are unfortunately a couple of potential downsides to this. One is that these visuals may prove distracting at times, especially when something from the background decides to fly in between the player and the board, obstructing your view of the blocks. This hardly ever happens, and usually isn’t much of a problem when it does, but it can still be a bit annoying when you’re trying to concentrate on the game, particularly when you get to a section where the speed increases a lot. There will also sometimes be times when the blocks themselves will do a little dance or glimmer when you successfully make a line, depending on the theme of the stage you’re playing in, which can also deter your focus. This, however, can be remedied by simply going to the Gameplay options and setting Tetrimino Color to Traditional instead of Customized. Speaking of focusing on the game, it’s also certainly a possibility that you’ll get so wrapped up in stacking blocks that you won’t be able to take in the visual spectacle going on around you. Since all these added visuals are kind of the main point of Tetris Effect, the thing that really distinguishes it from other Tetris games, it feels like kind of a shame when you can’t appreciate them as much as you’d like because you’re trying to do well in the actual game.

Luckily, Tetris Effect has a few ways of dealing with this potential issue. For one thing, you can always lower the difficulty level, or even switch to Practice mode which prevents the player from getting a Game Over, so that the stakes aren’t as high and you can afford to take everything in. Also, once you’ve beaten Journey Mode on any difficulty, you’ll unlock Theater Mode, which allows you to simply enjoy the visuals and music each stage offers without actually playing Tetris at all, so you can go back and see what you missed, if you feel you’ve missed anything at all. Speaking of the music, this is another great addition to the Tetris formula. Unfortunately, you won’t find any new takes on the classic Tetris theme, but the game is filled with tons of other cool music tracks, with each stage offering its own song. Even if you’re someone who generally isn’t into trance or synth music, you’ll likely find yourself bobbing your head to at least a few of these tunes. Plus, every time you move or turn a block, it will make a sound effect that matches up with the music that’s playing, even further enveloping the player in the world of the game.

If you’re a Tetris fan, there’s something here for you.

There are also several different gameplay modes players can partake of in Tetris Effect. There’s Journey Mode, the game’s main campaign, which is traditional Tetris, but with a new mechanic called The Zone. Once your Zone Meter is maxed out, you can press L2 or R2 to enter The Zone, which will freeze blocks in place for a short period of time, making it easier to find good places to drop them, before receiving a nice point bonus for each line you made in The Zone once you exit it. It’s a cool mechanic that puts an extra little twist on an old formula. Outside of Journey Mode, there are several different Effect Modes. Each of these modes are sorted into one of four categories: Classic, which takes the traditional Tetris gameplay and presents the player with different modes that veteran players may recognize, such as Marathon and Sprint Modes; Relax, which slows things down and presents the player with easier challenges with no threat of a Game Over, so the player can take a break from the increasing speed and difficulty of regular gameplay; Focus, which is basically a challenge mode that offers the player some short, specific challenges that further twists the classic gameplay of the series; and Adventurous, which also presents new challenges, but ones that tend to be longer and more involved than the Focus challenges. Basically, if you’re a Tetris fan, there’s something here for you.

Though Tetris Effect is great fun, it ultimately is still Tetris, so those who never cared for the original game probably won’t be converted by this one. Furthermore, it only takes a few hours to play through each of this game’s modes one time each, so if you’re someone who doesn’t plan on coming back to the game time and time again, you’ll probably be done with it in less than a day, which would make the $40 price point feel pretty steep. However, if you do plan on coming back to Tetris Effect every once in a while and letting the visuals and music wash over you, you’ll find a lot to enjoy here.


The Verdict

Tetris Effect is a great take on a classic formula. The immersive visuals and music add a new layer that Tetris fans didn’t even know we needed.


  • Score: 4.5 / 5
  • Available On: PlayStation 4
  • Published By: Enhance Games
  • Developed By: Monstars, Inc.
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • US Release Date: November 9th, 2018
  • Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
  • Quote: "Tetris Effect is a great take on a classic formula. The immersive visuals and music add a new layer that Tetris fans didn't even know we needed."
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