Tetris Effect - Review

Author: Mattia "Zave" Ravanelli
Date: 2020-07-30 22:25:57
A legend that does not fear the passage of time, Tetris has long transcended the simple belonging to the world of video games or pastimes tout court, claiming and obtaining the right position in popular culture of the twentieth and twenty-first century. The game, created with simple textual elements by Alexey Pajitnov using the capabilities of an Electronika 60 computer in 1984, has been seen, played, read, studied, celebrated: everywhere and by anyone. Its formula has remained unchanged, at best, or distorted in the mad attempt to synthesize another drug of equivalent efficacy. Failing every single time. Because the secret of Tetris is that it has no secrets, it's all there on the screen and in the brains of those who play it. It is the Tetris effect, the one that leads you to ideally fit the bicycle with the door of the building and the trash bin on the street, that beautiful line is ready!

Tetris creeps into the cerebral cortex so as not to leave anymore, at least until you leave it aside for a while, sure that sooner or later, at the next version, the tetrimino festival will return to have the better of mental lucidity. Or rather, it will push it towards new heights, in a crescendo of reactivity, processing capacity, flexibility, strategy.

Tetris Effect is without a doubt one of the most convincing versions and re-propositions of the game of the Russian mathematician in almost thirty-five years of attempts. Which is already quite a comforting result in itself. He has the humility to indulge the rules of the original game, limiting himself to a few modifications that do not affect his spirit and approach. What he does, and what he does very well, is instead to make over thirty clothes that fall with a brush on the well in the center of the screen.

From trance to the most harmless pop, from progressive jazz to the environment and world music, Tetris Effect is exactly what is expected knowing that Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Space Channel 5, Rez, Lumines) is at the helm of the project. Sega's ex, always in search of the perfect synthesis between gameplay and music, wanted to decorate the classic Tetris with a series of sound and visual environments that make it more alive, suggestive, curious, stunning and bewitching. Without this wanting to attack the laws underlying the game system. To be honest, it is right to give merit to both Mizuguchi and Takashi Ishihara, who is Director, Art director and responsible of the concept of Tetris Effect together with Mizuguchi. Ishihara, already working on Dragon's Dogma in recent years, had had the opportunity to collaborate with the visionary of Hokkaido already in the days of Child of Eden (2011), but here the couple reaches peaks never touched before.

Among the simplest and at the same time sensational successes recorded by Tetris Effect is its ability to swirl and continuously change the appearance of the game screen and at the same time of the tetrimini, without ever going to penalize the readability of the cluster of pieces that goes to take shape (or lose it) in the well. The story is full of versions of Tetris accompanied by bad tetrimini, but in this case there is only something to glaze at. If you then play Tetris Effect with PlayStation VR (optional), then the environment surrounds the wearer of the helmet. Sea beds or flights over the desert, the infinite space or the depths of the heart of a volcano: there is something to be taken by the hand and ending up in another dimension ... while tetramini and controllers pulsate, vibrate and shine to the rhythm of the soundtrack. Always impeccable.

Something different Tetris Effect tries to do it anyway, but always without losing the sense of measure. In Journey mode, which is the main one, by eliminating lines, accumulating points and reaching new levels of falling speed of tetrimini, a bar fills up which, once filled, allows you to activate Zone mode. For a few seconds the scene freezes, the tetrimini no longer fall autonomously and each completed line contributes to giving a bonus at the end of the time available. It is in these cases that you can go beyond the traditional limit of the four lines eliminated in one fell swoop (Tetris, in fact), to even put eight (Octoris), twelve (Dodecaetris) or who knows how many others.

However, this is an intervention that does not pull in any way on the original recipe of the game, merely adding a little strategy: when will it be better to activate the Zone? How can I make the most of it? All questions to try to answer by ringing one game after another, even once the end of the last of the "scenes" of this strange and dreamy campaign mode has been reached. Each area provides, at the standard difficulty level, the elimination of 36 lines and at that point we proceed to the next "level". Everything is organized through five sequences that host three to five levels. And then ... then there are the online rankings to retreat inside, irresistible like the sirens of the Odyssey.

Choosing the Effects section instead, you will find a good number of other modes, from the ultra classic ones to some reinterpretations already seen several times over the years. Those that offer a well already partially occupied by tetramini, with special blocks to be eliminated or a combo of lines to be made to disappear without the slightest error. More interesting are those that correspond to real thematic playlists built on the experiences of the Journey: four water levels, as many in the air, in space ...

Evaluating today a Tetris all in all so essential in the game system (thankfully!) Is practically useless: it is and always will be the perfect puzzle game. Better then to dwell on what the team of Monstar and Enhance added: the artistic direction, which is amazing. Tetris Effect is beautiful to see and hear. If you play on a 4K panel with PlayStation 4 Pro the particle effects and colors are amazing, as is the care for synchronizing the audio and vibration effects to what happens on the screen. Those who rely on PlayStation VR must unfortunately take into account a loss in terms of resolution which at first glance leaves a bad taste in the mouth, but when you start to experience the Journey from within, then there is only time to rethink the Electronika 60 and all the way forward.

Sensation of motion sickness: nothing

Game speed: nothing

VR effect: medium

I played Tetris Effect thanks to a reviewable code obtained by the developer. The test was performed both on a PlayStation 4 Pro connected to a Samsung KS7000 4K TV, and on a PlayStation 4 with PlayStation VR. I completed the Journey mode on Normal difficulty and dealt with all the other Effects modes several times, reaching experience level 23 (useful only to unlock some avatars and little else).