The original release of Tetris Effect on PlayStation 4 was one of the biggest surprises of 2018. While yes, the game was and still is very much more Tetris at its core, the package everything came wrapped in elevated things beyond being just a video game and rather a majestic sensory enchantment of visuals and audio. As a result, what we received is arguably the best rendition of Tetris there’s ever been and one of the best games released that year. To little surprise then, what was true back in 2018 is just as true today with Tetris Effect: Connected on Nintendo Switch, a fantastic port that feels right at home on the device.
So what is Tetris you might ask? Well for the four of you across the world asking that very question, Tetris is a puzzle game where players manoeuvre different shapes into neat lines (Tetrominos) as they fall downward from the top of the screen. Create a line and it will disappear scoring points in the process. Simple, satisfying and very addictive. Tetris Effect: Connected does have one new feature unique to it in the shape of its Zone mechanic, unlocked after clearing so many lines and briefly slowing the action down. While normally cleared lines get removed right away, here they fall to the bottom offering ample chance for clearing the grid and scoring high. Other than that, gameplay-wise this is very much the same ol’ Tetris. While the likes of more recent efforts like Tetris 99 and Puyo Puyo Tetris have focused on gameplay hooks like Battle Royales and the crossing-over of franchises, the goals of Tetris Effect: Connected are much loftier using music and visuals to create a puzzling experience unlike any before.
Journey mode is the main single-player campaign of sorts, taking you through a series of stages, each one offering unique music and visuals. As you clear lines, your environment will start to evolve, backgrounds coming to life or transporting you somewhere else entirely while the music too will grow in complexity. Even rotating and dropping Tetrominos will create sounds and noises that gel with the beat making you feel as though what you’re doing is contributing musically. All of this creates a wild sense of immersion you’d never think possible with a puzzle game, and one that demands headphones to get the full effect. If you’re lucky enough to own a Switch OLED, the bright neon colours, particle effects and general excitement on-screen leaps right off. Approaching each stage brings with it giddy excitement, wondering where the game will take your eyes and ears next, be it wondering the desert, swimming alongside dolphins or even to space. While you’ll quickly speed through Journey mode, you’ll want to return again and again whether that’s to achieve a higher grade, take on a tougher difficulty or simply reexperience the entire thing.
Tetris Effect: Connected has a healthy number of other single-player modes beyond its Journey offering. Split into four categories, these eleven modes have something to suit everyone. You’ll find more relaxing modes that do away with penalties allowing players to focus on taking in the experience. You’ll also find traditional Tetris settings or even more adventurous challenges like having to dispose of infected Tetrominos or trying to deal with random effects like giant Tetrominos and losing the ability to rotate. These often short modes are perfect for handheld gaming where any ten-minute gap you might have in your day will want to be spent chasing a high score.
Tetris Effect: Connected also includes a competitive option playable both online and offline. Connected is the only co-operative mode where three players will team up to take on a powerful boss. By clearing lines you’ll fill your team’s Zone meter that when full merges all grids together offering a chance to attack. Of course, the boss will have their own attacks making things more difficult on your and your teammates. I like this team-focused twist on Tetris and where many co-operative games I tend to play online with strangers might struggle due to a lack of communication, here it’s not essential. Every game I played, each player just seemed to know where to place their blocks on the joint grid. Everyone was in sync. The remaining three modes meanwhile focus on some form of variation on a two-player battle focusing on points or use of the Zone mode. If you’re looking for some truly competitive Tetris then you’ll find it here, many of my matches online ending in defeat to far superior players.
Continued play will earn you experience that can unlock additional avatars be that for the single-player mode or multiplayer. While avatars are hardly huge in the way of unlocks for a game, it is nice to see a continued sense of progression where everything you do nudges the experience bar along.
Tetris Effect: Connected is an incredible experience top to bottom whether playing alone or with others in the newly added competitive modes. Its effortless blending of stunning visuals and euphoric music make this so much more than just a mere puzzle game though. It’s a sensory overload, an uplifting journey and even an emotional one at times where every moment spent is nothing short of mesmerising.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Enhance