Tetris Effect is a visual and auditory triumph

Posted on July 26, 2019

Tetris Effect has recently brought its unique brand of entrancing visuals and thumping beats to the PC, after debuting last year as a PS4 exclusive. I took this an an opportunity to jump in and I’ve got to say, I’m very glad I did.

Tetris Effect to me feels like an answer to the question, “How can you possibly make Tetris better?” It’s an enthralling game and I know how ridiculous that must sound given the game’s subject matter. This isn’t just game for Tetris fans, it’s a game worth experiencing for any gamer because it introduces clever new sensory elements that manage to completely change the feel of the game.

Tetris as a game hasn’t evolved much over time. There’s a pretty good reason for that, and a pretty good reason Tetris is still one of the best selling video games of all time. That’s because the basic formula of the game is already perfected. Altering the mechanics of this classic game would be sacrilege, so instead Tetris Effects iterates on everything else. As a result the game manages to create an unbelievably stylish experience for what would otherwise be a clinical, repetitive puzzle game.

Rather than focusing on pure score, Tetris Effect asks you to survive long enough to complete a certain amount of rows. Completing a level will throw you into the next with each level differing from the last. This allows the game to create progression and a goal to work towards that isn’t defined by the player themselves. It also very cleverly offers a challenging experience even for veteran Tetris players so that mega-fans have still got their work cut out for them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Let’s cut to the chase. Tetris Effect is a fantastic game because of the additional visuals and sounds you wouldn’t expect to have in a Tetris game. The game was built for Virtual Reality but it certainly isn’t needed to enjoy the game. The visuals are stunning, forming patterns and images around and within the Tetris play space. It has a bit of a magical feel to the visuals as if the Tetris game itself forms images around it. Accompanying those visuals is the game’s music and this is where things get particularly special. Whilst Tetris may be known for its memorable chip-tune soundtrack, that soundtrack isn’t especially diverse. For a game you may spend hours at a time playing, you probably want a bit of variety. When it comes to sound design and music, Tetris Effect knocks it out of the freaking park. I was and still am stunned by how beautifully and seamlessly the music is incorporated into this game.

As you rotate or place blocks the game will make beats and sounds appropriate for the level and visuals around you. Those sounds then become the building blocks of a bigger musical score that builds up as you play any given level. Some levels will keep that score quite minimalistic while others build to moments of climax that involve various musical elements including vocals. That music isn’t just satisfying background noise, but it also has impacts on the gameplay itself. That’s because Tetris Effect will change the pace of the game, speeding up and slowing down the speed with which blocks fall down your screen. In this way the developers are able to match the speed of the game with the speed of the music and create a cohesive flow to the experience. The music is top-notch as well. Differing genres of music were explored from more electronic beats into the realm of world music. The songs were all different although they all shared an elegance and tastefulness that fit with the visual elements of the game, including the look of the blocks themselves.

I do wish the game was able to create a transition from one level to the next with more flow and subtlety, like a DJ set at the club. Although that’s an incredibly small nitpick to take away from what was otherwise a shockingly impressive game. You can find Tetris Effect on PS4 and now PC via the Epic Games Store with all of the big VR devices supported.