At the beginning of the twentieth century, Soviet film-maker Lev Kuleshov made a series of experimental films to determine where spectators from a series of images draw meaning. In these short films, Kuleshov showed a person's face, followed by shooting various actions. His point was that no one has a picture or a picture of his own. Instead, the meaning derives from the interaction and relationship between two consecutive shots.
Tetris Effect, the new puzzle game by Lumines director Tetsuya Mizuguchi, developer Resonair and publisher Enhance, Inc., reveals something similar about video games. Today (November 9) for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR, this puzzle case puzzle contains most of the rules and elements that Russian designer Alexey Pajitnov designed in 1
And yet Tetris Effect does just that. How does this game make Tetris better? By realizing that games are more than just mechanics. It makes Tetris better by revealing the meaning between the mechanics, the player, the music and the visual elements.
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It's one of the best games I've ever played
What you like
The Tetris effect takes its name from the phenomenon in which people play a major part of the game who see parts of the world around them and when they close their eyes. But I think this term will take on new meaning as more people get their hands on this version.
In the Tetris effect campaign mode, players move from one level to the next. You play Tetris with a handful of minor changes and some big changes. But what distinguishes one level from the next is how they look and sound. And what's incredible is that each phase feels different because of the "superficial" changes. Only you will quickly realize that they are not superficial at all. As the music changes and the materials of the blocks change from fire to ice and their sound effects change from swooshes to clinks, you start to play differently. They are different.
More than anything I have ever played, Tetris Effect shows that games are not just mechanics. Animations, sound, and lighting are just as important to establishing a relationship with a player as "pure gameplay." Because the mechanics in Tetris Effect never changes. You will not receive level or clearance upgrades. They only play Tetris, but when everything revolves around mechanics, it causes a chemical reaction in your brain that causes a change in you as a player.
It's almost like Mizuguchi is playing you. And it feels incredible to open up and adapt to what the game demands of you.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX-ified
However, this is not exactly a pure Tetris. You get a new focusing mechanic, where you build meters by clearing up lines. And then you can output the meter by clicking the right button. That stops time. As you might expect, freezing the action offers some leeway to figure out how to get out of bond. But as you become more confident, start stacking lines at once. When the time is up, any line you delete is displayed at the bottom of the board. It does not count until you play in real time again. This means that for the first time in the history of Tetris, you can suddenly receive more than a 4-line Clear (also called "Tetris").
This does not change Tetris. Instead of the Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, which has shuffled the ideas of arcade classic Pac-Man, Tetris Effect enhances the concept by reinforcing and building on it.
For beginners of Tetris it will give you a way to feel better in the most hectic moments. For experts it is something new to master. In addition, the whole game feels even more active without feeling like a gimmick. They still play Tetris but move within the timeless design.
That's the way Tetris should be from now on. Tetris Effect could never replace the original, but it should live by it.
What you dislike
VR sometimes "wow"
I do not think this will be the best Tetris competition, but it does not try to be that, so I will not stop it. The developers first present it as a virtual reality game, though you can easily play it in 2D on a TV. I've played it both ways, and I think the VR mode can not be that overwhelming.
I do not even say it's a disappointment. It is not. In particularly intense moments, I often felt my chin falling on the visual effects around me. However, it is not exactly the definitive experience the developers claim. Some of the effects are so-so in some levels, and I somehow hoped that this would maintain a high wow factor.
I almost prefer the game on a TV and a surround sound system. One of the things that sustain the wow factor from start to finish is the music and the sound. The beats start great and get better as they respond to your actions, and the bass drops when you hit a certain number of lines.
When you receive this music through a surround system that fits your room, it feels like a unique experience playing with it. Earphones in VR do not work. I will actually try to play VR with surround sound. And maybe this is the ideal setup for this game.
And maybe that's the real blow against this game: it makes you think about how you play it. Do not do what is easiest for you and experience it for yourself.
Too Many Modes
My only other concern is that there are too many modes. When you finish the campaign, you can switch to effect mode and choose from a long list of game types. But it's too much, and I feel like I do not know which one is the right one. I find that a bit daunting.
Fortunately, developers are already having weekend events to address this issue, but I expect to feel overwhelmed during the week. I hope that they also hold events during the week. I just always want something to focus on something instead of jumping aimlessly from one mode to another.
I am lucky that I could play this game. It's something special. If I could go back in time to show a video game to artists of the last century, I would choose that. God, I know, that sounds overkill, but I'm serious. It's such an effortless and intriguing combination of perfect game design and powerful imagery and audio. And it's an interactive lesson why these things matter for games.
I will come back to Tetris Effect for the rest of my life.
Tetris The effect is available today on the PlayStation 4. Sony has provided a downloadable copy for GamesBeat for this purpose.