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Tetris Effect: Connected

Posted by GG Goblin On November - 17 - 2020

A simply gorgeous take on a classic puzzle game.

 
Sometimes the simple things are the best. Tetris has proved that, and anyone who has spent any time playing the game over the past 30 plus years will be able to drop in and play without any problems. The core mechanic is simple enough that everyone can understand it. However, the assumed simplicity of the game can make it a difficult sell, as anyone who has played any of the games over the years will assume any new version to be more of the same, and go off looking for something different. However, each new version of Tetris brings something new to the formula. The latest version of Tetris comes in the form of Tetris Effect: Connected on Xbox One and Series X/S. Starting out as Tetris Effect a couple of years ago on PS4, which included support for VR, and a bit later for PC, Xbox gamers can finally get their hands on what is perhaps the most mesmerizing Tetris game to date. While losing the VR support, the Connected version of the game introduces multiplayer for the first time, and the fact that it is included with the excellent Game Pass means there is no reason not to give the game a try.

 


 
For anyone who has never played a Tetris game, where have you been? The simple mechanics remain the same though, with geometric shapes falling from the top of the screen to settle at the bottom. The player can move these shapes around, and rotate them, with a view to creating a solid horizontal line that will then disappear. Should any of the falling shapes come to rest at the top of the screen, it is game over. Tetris Effect: Connected is just like that, but so much more.

 
Like many other gamers, I have passed on the new Tetris games of recent years, imagining that they are simply more of the same. Sure, that core gameplay loop of rotating the shapes and making horizontal lines is still there, along with a few of the more technical mechanics such as the hard drop or holding shapes back to use later. However, throwing something new at the formula is the Zone mechanic in which the player fills a meter that allows them to “enter the zone”, allowing players to slow everything down as they complete line after line for bonus points that can take their scores far beyond the limitations of the given level.

 
Entering the zone fits in with everything else going on in Tetris Effect: Connected. The whole experience is very zen. Directed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi of Lumines and Rez fame, Tetris Effect is as much a visual and audio experience as it is a puzzle game. While the falling shapes may never change that much, the backdrops will take the player on a visual journey that is utterly entrancing, and the soundtrack is both uplifting and relaxing at the same time. The best thing is that the visuals and audio work with the actual gameplay, building as the game builds in tension, and at times almost moving to the rhythm of the falling shapes and completed lines. I can only imagine how trippy this would all have looked in VR, but the Series X version on a regular TV is still difficult to look away from.

 


 
Returning from the core Tetris Effect game are Journey, a campaign mode of sorts, and Effect Modes, which offer more arcade-like challenges for the player. Journey group together levels that are completed by achieving a set number of lines as the player travels around an eclectic selection of destinations. The Effect mode on the other hand throws different ideas at the player, many of which have been seen in previous Tetris games, and a thoroughly enjoyable.

 
However, perhaps as an apology for missing out on VR, Tetris Effect: Connected’s biggest cause for excitement is the inclusion of multiplayer modes, something which the PS4 players will have to wait a while to get. With ranked matches online and local games against friends, there are plenty of options here for the more competitive Tetris player. Perhaps the star of the show, or at least the most novel mode, is the 3v1 mode co-op mode in which three players, bolstered by AI players if necessary, do Tetris battle against a master AI. What makes this mode different is that occasionally the three player windows will join together into one massive window and players will have to work together to give the opposition grief. It’s great fun.

 


 
With stunning visuals, an immersive soundtrack and a gameplay loop that can be exactly as relaxing or tense as the player wants, Tetris Effect: Connected is the puzzle game of the moment and a real star of the Xbox Series X launch line up. More compelling than many old-school Tetris fans may expect, and all but impossible to put down, Tetris Effect: Connected should be in every Xbox gamers library, especially as the game is included with Game Pass. The new multiplayer modes will keep serious players coming back for some time to come, and makes the game easy to pop on when friends are around. Mesmerizingly familiar puzzle fun.

 

 ★★★★★★★★★☆ 



 

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