Since Tetris Effect’s beautiful reveal trailer was posted last month, I didn’t know that game developers made games for just one person—that person being me.
As a lifelong Tetris player and fan of Tetsuya Mizuguchi, lead creator of psychedelic classics like Rez and Lumines, I was beyond excited to get a chance to get my hands, eyes, and ears on this game at a PlayStation event in New York earlier this week. While I’ll admit I had a transcendental experience, some things left me curious to see how they play once the stakes are high and the blocks crash to the bottom.
Tetris Effect, which is slated to come out this autumn for PlayStation 4, takes classic puzzle gameplay and thrusts it into the land of Rez and Lumines by adding gorgeous neon visuals and bumping new electronic tracks produced by Hydelic, the in-house team at Mizuguchi’s studio. They made Rez Infinite’s bass-thumping electronic music for the game’s Area X level.
I played the game in VR, though that is optional. The first time I landed a Tetris, the screen exploded in a beautiful display of particle effects, sea life swam around me, the controller vibrated and the music swelled in a way that sent chills down my spine— I’ve done this a million times before but not like this.
The game’s title refers to the real life effect that prolonged play can have on a player’s mind like seeing Tetris shapes in dreams or playing an imaginary game using boxes or a tiled wall. I know this well because hi, I love Tetris and I’ve basically been doing it my whole life. With all of the distracting visuals and flashy effects, it seems like Tetris Effect is challenging you to master that real life cognitive skill set and set up that next move even when you can’t actually see it.
I liked what I played, but I worry that the spectacle might interrupt my focus when I play the final game. As is the case with Lumines, some blocks were a bit harder to read at times. As a result, it might be tougher to maintain a certain rhythm confidently. One level I tried had the blocks featuring a flame effect that flickered slowly and it was tough to precisely keep track of everything.
The good news is you now have Tetris Effect’s new “Zone” mechanic which gives players the option to stop time and freeze falling Tetrominoes so you can clear lines at your own pace until your “Zone” meter runs out or you fill up the screen. You fill up your meter by clearing lines. So stopping time to clear lines can either get you out of trouble or give you the opportunity to clear up to 16 lines at once, also known as a “Decahexatris.”
An example of the “Zone” mechanic and the enticing “Decahexatris.” (GIF: PlayStation Blog)
Although I was disappointed to find out there is a lack of multiplayer, I was told that there would be some sort of online component. As a lifelong Tetris player and Mizuguchi-stan, the little that I played did leave me hopeful. Check out our video to see the game in action.