Normal Tetris is addicting. Seeing those four-block shapes falling from the top of the screen gives you a sense of anticipation, one that’s rewarded whenever you clear a line. Squares and lines give you joy, and z-shapes make you grit your teeth, especially when there’s nowhere to put them oh my god. It’s a mental exercise almost as old as gaming itself, and it holds a special place in our hearts, history, and gaming hall of fame.
Tetris Effect does its best to add only positive things to this experience. It’s very careful to not be too heavy handed, and to not make you think they just slapped on some new gimmicks to sell you ‘just another Tetris game’. Sure, all the core gameplay is the same, but they’d have to be pretty bold to mess with the science of Tetris after all these years. No, the game is essentially the same, but it’s the background that makes this one of the best games of the year. Stunning visuals and a bevvy of original songs that change their speed based on how fast the tetrominos are falling (or maybe it’s the other way around) give the game a coat of gloss that dazzles, pulling from cultures and vistas from around the globe. You almost regret having to pay attention to the game.
Don’t worry, there’s a theater mode.
As if that’s not enough, a PSVR headset will immerse you into the game like never before. The visuals will surround you, the music will carry you away, and the latency of the controls will go down, making you even better at Tetris than you ever thought you could be. If you don’t own a PSVR, killing the lights and slipping on a pair of headphones will do the trick, although it won’t be nearly as impressive.
The most unique new feature is the Zone Meter, a circular meter in the bottom left of your screen that fills with every line you clear. By pressing both triggers down, you can freeze time and rack up as much as a 16-line combo, skyrocketing your score and clearing the entire board.
In case you didn’t get the memo, Tetris Effect is the most refreshing and addicting game this year, and I cannot recommend it enough.