Monday, January 7, 2019

Tetris Effect

Following Ubisoft’s exclusivity contract with Tetris Ultimate, it seemed like there wouldn’t be any new Tetris games released in the US for some time until Sega managed to find a loophole regarding Puyo Puyo Tetris, though they could only import the Switch and PS4 versions, the latter physical only. I’m unsure of the current status of Ubisoft’s contract, however I was excited to see a new Tetris game, the Monstars and Resonair-developed Tetris Effect, announced for PlayStation VR at last year’s E3 press conference. Tetris seemed like an interesting title to explore VR with, as the preview material made it clear that the platform would make the backgrounds more immersive than ever. Upon finally getting a chance to play it after getting it for Christmas, I thought it was a good Tetris game on its own as well as a great VR experience.

Basic gameplay is similar to previous Tetris games, though there are some new game modes found in this version. The primary game mode is Journey Mode, a campaign that allows you to play through different levels in sets of 3-5. In this mode, you have access to the Zone mechanic, which builds up as the player clears lines. Activating Zone allows the player to temporarily freeze time and clear beyond four lines and score additional points. As potentially cleared lines move to the bottom of the matrix before all of those are cleared at once, this mechanic can also be used as a way to clean out the matrix and make things easier for you, especially as the game speed increases. Another interesting feature about Journey is that the music is also affected by your plays, increasing immersion; the music can also influence how you play, as the game speed can be affected by the tempo of the music. The tetrominos are also themed based on the backdrop, although among the game’s plethora of options is the ability to revert them into classic colors if you feel like it.

Example of gameplay outside VR.

Other game modes can be found under Effect Mode, which features classic Tetris modes as well as some new ones organized to reflect your mood. The Zone mechanic is not accessible here, though each mode has their own rules that shake things up a bit. One of the newer modes involves having to clear 300 lines while enduring random conditions that affect what you do, ranging from simply flipping the board to turning the matrix upside down and reversing controls at the same time. Some options are also designed for when you want to relax, wherein there is no Game Over. Some modes also allow you to toggle whether they go on forever (that is until you fill up the matrix), which can be useful for the relaxation options. Effect Mode also features an optional leaderboard, though you can see everyone’s level represented by an in-game avatar as it orbits the Earth.

The music of Tetris Effect is thankfully good, with each track designed to suit the visuals and tone of the level. Some tracks can even stick with you, as can the gameplay, if the game’s namesake is anything to go by. The backgrounds are also stellar with or without VR, though especially in VR, with each of them evolving as you advance through the stage. If you just want to enjoy your favorite backdrops without having to actually play the game, finishing Journey Mode unlocks the ability to do just that, in addition to allowing you to select your favorite one(s) in some Effect Mode options.

Tetris Effect is one of the best Tetris games I have played in recent years. The backgrounds and music are both very well coordinated and executed, plus the new Zone mechanic puts an interesting twist on things. The visuals are amazing and the game is perfectly playable without VR, though it is best experienced in VR if you are able to afford the headset. Either way, the game is a must-play for Tetris fans as well as a good experience for casual fans and newcomers.

No comments:

Post a Comment