Also available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Oculus Quest, and Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/07/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Tetris is my all-time favorite puzzle game. It (along with my lack of self-discipline at 14 years old) is why my online Latin 1 class my first semester freshman year of high school remains the lowest grade of my life; I spent that whole semester playing Tetris Friends instead of actually learning Latin. It makes sense, then, that my first Game Pass game after finally signing up for the service was Tetris Effect: Connected.
Tetris Effect is home to a host of single-player and multiplayer modes, but what I spent the most time on is Journey, the primary single-player mode. This is set up like a campaign with each stage having its own unique theme. These themes are represented by different styled tetrominoes, backgrounds, and music, and they really give the game a trippy New Age sort of feel. It’s just Tetris, but the presentation makes it feel unlike any Tetris game I’ve ever played before. The game calls Journey mode an “emotional” experience, and while I’m not sure “emotional” is necessarily the best word, “zen” is definitely apt. The game’s zeitgeist has a real Western-yoga-hippie-woman-style Buddhist vibe to it, and I absolutely adore it. It reminds me a LOT of my late aunt who passed away last year and how she was back before the Alzheimer’s corrupted and changed her personality, so it made an especially major impact on me.
It’s available on all non-Nintendo last-gen consoles, but the only current-gen system to get an optimized version is the Series X, the version I played. This has the game running in native 2160p at a flawless 60 fps, and it’s an absolutely surreal experience. I only dabbled a little with the multiplayer because I was so engrossed with Journey, but the fact that it offers both cooperative and competitive multiplayer options is fantastic and gives the game a lot of replay value. Because I played on Xbox, I wasn’t able to experience the game in VR, but my time with it has definitely inspired me to order a PS4 copy on Amazon so I can play it with PSVR.
I may be a bit biased because I’m such a big fan of Tetris in general, but honestly, the words “euphoric” and “spiritual” are the only ways I can think of that really capture the feel of Tetris Effect. I was expecting another generic Tetris game, but this isn’t that. It shows a real dedication and passion that most Tetris products haven’t shown in years. The controls are smooth and responsive, the style of the game is second to none, and the multiplayer options ensure that this is a game that Tetris fans will keep coming back to for a long time yet. Most gamers have either a PS4, an Xbox One, or a PC, so this is a game that can be experienced by pretty much anyone, and since it’s on Game Pass, that makes it especially accessible for Xbox and PC players. Make sure you don’t sleep on this one; it’s a truly surreal experience.