Editor’s note: First version of this article incorrectly stated that Tetris Effect: Connected did not come to PSVR1. I was misinformed. I apologize for the oversight.
One of the best things about Sony’s new PlayStation VR2 headset getting parity with PCVR is that the PlayStation 5 will finally get the opportunity to play all of the great games that never made it to PSVR1, or to experience new and improved versions of some that did. One such game was last year’s smash hit, Tetris Effect: Connected. The base game was released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, but only two versions had what I consider to be the full experience — the VR version that came to PSVR1 and PC. You know how to play Tetris, but you’ve never played Tetris like this.
Tetris is practically welded into the gaming world’s fabric. It’s arguably the most recognizable puzzle game ever made, and even non-gaming folks know the gist of the game, even if they’ve never played it. Blocks drop from the top of the screen, and you try to slot them into the correct spots until you get a line all the way across. Doing so clears that line, and play proceeds. Stacking four of them and clearing them with one long piece is called a “Tetris”, resulting in a huge amount of points. It has served as the inspiration for games like Klax, Blockout, Lumines, and even games like Candy Crush. More modern games like Treasure Stack, Tricky Towers, Battle Chef Brigade Deluxe, and Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido all owe their success to Tetris on some level. Tetris itself has also seen many iterations with Tetris Plus, The New Tetris, Puyo Puyo Tetris, Tetris 99, and ultimately Tetris Effect reinventing the game in new and fun ways. It would be a fair statement to say that Tetris is one reason video games became as popular as they are.
Tetris Effect: Connected takes the reinvented formula of Tetris Effect and adds a new element – multiplayer.
One of the areas where Tetris Effect: Connected subtly messes with even the best players is that it scales in the background. It’s not going to tell you that, but I will. As you dance to the syncopated rhythm of the music, trying to get 30 lines or whatever objective you are tasked with, the game is watching you. Maybe it’s slowly amping the speed, perhaps it’s being more stingy with some shapes over others. Those same beats will lull you into a trance-like state while subtly pushing even the best of us to the brink until you eventually lose. That’s where your friends can help.
I’ve played the multiplayer on the PC version. The PSVR2 version won’t have its multiplayer turned on till launch, but suffice it to say it presented a completely new way to play – cooperatively. You can invite your friends to play four multiplayer modes, one co-op and three competitive. Let’s dig into each individually.
The biggest lure of Tetris Effect: Connected is its namesake – “Connected”. This cooperative mode pits you against AI opponents as they try to trip your classic Tetris game up with tricks and attacks. These “Blitz” attacks can change the speed of drops, affect the speed that blocks attach to the stack, appear randomly on the field, hide the next piece, and more. There are 24 different Blitz attacks in all, as they try to close you down. As an exclamation point, there are also five AI-controlled ever-escalating bosses to tackle. Here, the players will be tasked with special tasks to build up attacks of their own to take it down. It’s a brand new take on Tetris, and a lot of fun.
Zone Battle is competitive Tetris as you might imagine it. Up to four panels cover the screen, and you try to complete lines faster than your opponent. Doing so will drop random trash on their screen, making it harder to complete lines, and so it goes until somebody hits the top of the screen and loses. What makes it unique, however, is the ability to bank your lines and unleash them at the most inopportune moment.
Classic Score Attack is as simple a mode as you get, putting players side-by-side where you play traditional Tetris without the mechanics to trip each other up. It’s the simplest of head-to-head modes, following the same rules as that green monochrome original Gameboy version you played as a kid.
Score Attack mode is the same mode as Classic Score Attack, but with ghost guidelines for your pieces and the like. I could explain them in far further detail, but let’s hear it from the developers themselves, shall we?
As odd as it is to say, the “Journey Mode” campaign for Tetris Effect: Connected (yes, you heard that right) doesn’t really tell a story as much as pulling the player through a series of stages, varying up a number of elements like theme, sound effects, music, and more that synchronizes with the gameplay. Similarly, Effect Mode lets you pop the hood and tinker with all sorts of elements to create the game you want, with four preset categories to tackle.
A recent addition is called “Effect Modes: The Weekend Ritual”. These are almost like “dailies” in an MMO or a mobile game, giving the player just 24 hours to tackle each. Their score is then added to the overall community’s score, rewarding players with in-game goodies like special avatars and more. Again, the developer does a great job of showcasing this, so let’s hear from them once again.
In an update that will be first introduced on the PSVR2, but coming to all other platforms shortly thereafter, is a new series of modes, and the naming convention will tell you almost everything you need to know. Zone Marathon is a version of the Marathon mode, but with the Zone mechanic added in – hence the compound name. Classic Score Attack is the same as the multiplayer mode above, but now you can tackle it single player. Purify Mode is just a new endless version of the Purify Mode, and Master Mode similarly adds an endless version to the previous version of, you guessed it – Master Mode.
Put simply, it feels like developers Monstars, Resonair, Stage Games, and Enhance Games, don’t much feel like they’ve reached “peak Tetris”. They have kept reworking, rebuilding, adding new modes, and otherwise remixing this formula with new visuals, audio, modes, and more. Given the fresh new platform, I could see them adding even more to the game over time, and frankly more Tetris is never a bad thing.
Tetris Effect: Connected on the PSVR2 brings a handful of new features, some just bringing it in line with the new standards brought by the PlayStation 5. First, you’ll see that Activity Cards are available for the game If you are unfamiliar with these cards, they allow you to jump to a specific challenge in the game instantly. It keeps track of your progress towards completion. Some games do this well, but this is one of the better implementations – when you want to jump right into Classic Score, you can do so with a single button press.
The Sense Controllers can give you some guidance and feedback on gameplay, vibrating as you move Tetrominos around, and providing a little bump when they drop in place. It’s not game changing, but it’s nice that they got some attention. Since there are now haptics in the headset itself, you’ll feel the transitions between stages, and you’ll get a pretty good thump when you fall out of the rhythm.
Speaking of zones and rhythms, the PSVR2 can track your eyes. If you enable it, you can enter the next zone by closing your eyes for a moment, and when you reopen them you’ll be in the new zone. It’s another neat feature that won’t set the world on fire, but it’s a cool addition.
Tetris Effect: Connected
It’s crazy to say that Tetris, a game from 1984, feels brand new, but with Tetris Effect: Connected and a dash of virtual reality, it really does. The new single players offer a handful of new modes beyond simply trying to set a high score, and the multiplayer provides an ever-expanding set of new ways to play. It’s a worthy addition to the PSVR2 launch lineup.
- Multiplayer modes are a fresh take on the formula
- Top notch visual and audio effects
- Pure unrefined Tetris from 1984 if you want it
- Fresh unique and rewarding modern Tetris if you want it
- New updates!
- Some of the modes are duds