Review – Tetris Effect: Connected

The first Tetris Effect was a fantastic VR experience released back in 2018. I have previously mentioned how difficult it is to make something as pristine and classic as Tetris feel innovative almost forty years after its original release. However, audiovisual madman Tetsuya Mizuguchi achieved just that, with a new take on the Tetris formula meant to enhance the senses, bombarding the player with trippy visuals and a soundtrack that changed depending on your actions. There was just one problem with that game: it had no multiplayer, a sin for a Tetris game. That issue has been fixed with its “sequel”, Tetris Effect: Connected. Sadly, at the cost of some of its predecessor’s most unique features.

By and large, Tetris Effect: Connected is the same game from 2018, with a few enhancements and compromises here and there. The trippy visuals are still here, the single player mode follows the same structure, and the dynamic soundtrack and sound effects have been left untouched. As for the gameplay, well, that one hasn’t changed for the past few decades. No need to fix what wasn’t broken, right?

Tetris Effect: Connected

Playing Tetris with classic rules just makes me appreciate the brand new rules even more.

The main new feature is exactly what was missing from Tetris Effect: multiplayer. Tons of modes have been added, ranging from some interesting co-op “boss battles” for up to three players (something I clearly never thought I’d ever seen in a Tetris game), to your classic score attack duels. One neat addition that purists will love is the option to play Score Attack with classic Tetris rules (as well as chiptune soundtrack), emulating the same ruleset used in the Classic Tetris World Championship, also know as the greatest esport tournament in the universe. No quick drops, no highlights of where your pieces will fall to, no ability to hold a piece and use it later. Intentionally clunky, just like we used to play back in our Game Boys. Boom, Tetris for Jeff!

In terms of multiplayer content, Tetris Effect: Connected fixed all of the issues mentioned in my review of its predecessor. But here’s the catch. Notice how I’m playing this game on an Xbox One? This means that the game doesn’t feature VR support, and sadly, that means that it misses a lot of what made the original Tetris Effect so damn unique. Sure, the visuals are still trippy, but that ludicrous sense of immersion is basically gone. There is one advantage to playing this game on a normal TV setting, however: less audiovisual stimulation means that you’re less prone to being distracted, which is crucial when playing online.

Tetris Effect: Connected

I swear I don’t suck. I just had a bad run completely devoid of I-shaped tetrominos.

In short, Tetris Effect: Connected brings some excellent new features to the table, such as some great multiplayer modes, as well as more platforms in which to play it. However, this comes at the cost of not being able to play it in VR for very obvious, very Xbox-ish reasons. It loses a bit of its charm as a result. That being said, this is one of the best Tetris multiplayer experiences I’ve played in years. It’s not only catered towards those with a vague notion of how this game works, but also those beautiful lunatics like myself, those who follow the Classic Tetris World Championship to a borderline religious degree. I would love to see Tetris Effect: Connected become an esport staple in the near future.

 

Graphics: 8.5

While still a gorgeous game, it loses a bit of its visual appeal when you know how trippy the damn thing can be on a VR visor.

Gameplay: 9.0

It features the controls and responsiveness you would expect from a Tetris game. The lack of VR actually makes you pay more attention to the incoming blocks this time around. There is a very slight amount of input lag when you’re playing online though.

Sound: 10

The same sound department from its predecessor, which was already perfect in its own right. Fantastic tunes and sound effects synched with your movements.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Tetris will always be fun against another player, so I appreciate the brand new modes included in Tetris Effect: Connected. Playing it without a VR headset feels somewhat wrong, however.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Tetris Effect: Connected is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and PC.

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of Tetris Effect: Connected was provided by the publisher.