From the start, it’s hard to argue why Tetris Effect: Connected (no pun intended) is so connected to me. I can understand that for most people, Tetris Effect is generally “just another Tetris game”. Tetris is nearly forty years old now and I’d bet pretty much everyone who watches the review has played Tetris in their lifetime. Be it on the original Nintendo Game Boy or its many great iterations with the Tetris DS and Tetris 99, to name a few of the 200+ ports this game has. But this legacy not only carries weight, but also a kind of pressure. How can you turn Tetris in a new direction after there have been so many variants and versions before. Resonair came up with a very simple answer with the original Tetris effect: emphasize the immersive and enchanting nature of the game with a lively, ever-changing visual style and music. Tetris Effect: Connected has to detract from these graphics a bit, but in the end it feels like it’s the best way to play Tetris on your Nintendo Switch.
Tetris effect: Tetris is actually connected. Big shock. You twist and turn parts made up of blocks to form lines. Once a line is formed, it is removed from the board and the cycle continues. Points are retained and game over when your stack of blocks reaches the top of the board. What sets Tetris Effect apart, however, is the use of a great soundtrack, sound effects, and visuals to create a truly immersive experience. This is best seen in the main single player campaign called “Travel Mode”. As you travel through different soundscapes, landscapes, locations, and abstract images, you will find yourself stacking and twisting these blocks. Every time a block is rotated or placed, the soundtrack and sound effects are adjusted to match your actions with the beat of the song being played. Once you have cleared enough lines, more images will appear on the screen and the song will continue. Needless to say, Resonair used their experience developing REZ: infinite and Lumines to create another fantastic soundtrack that almost feels like composing it while you play it. All of this fits together like a glove and makes the Journey mode an almost meditative experience.
There is an emotional core to move through all these levels and to feel the human connection behind them. You no longer just play a game, but feel how art, music and culture have shaped the world. Using Tetris, a game almost everyone has played or knows about, to connect you to other cultures through music and images, sometimes feels almost ethereal. Yes, it all seems like I took good LSD and started playing Tetris, but honestly, the one thing about Tetris Effect is that the experience of placing blocks gives you a sense of relief. It puts me in a very specific zone while playing and that makes it a lot longer than any other Tetris game I’ve played before or since.
That’s not to say that Tetris Effect: Connected doesn’t have its own gameplay tricks. One of the most important features is the zone mechanics. When you have a counter filled, you can do this pull to freeze the time. This allows you to remove lines which will then be removed from the bottom of the board. This gives you great versatility when you’re stuck in a bind and nearing the top of the field of play. I especially like the fact that this way you can actually create multiple Tetris Clears that you can use to get Octoris (8 lines), Dodecatris (12-15 lines), Perfectris (18-19), Impossibilitris (22 lines), and can even achieve higher scores.
The Connected part in Tetris Effect: Connected comes from the multiplayer additions that have been added to other versions over time. These multiplayer modes have worked great in my experience and add some much-needed variety to the game. In contrast to Tetris 99, where competition is crucial, in connected mode you play together with other players against a mysterious piece in the middle of a universe. Each of you have your own boards and try to get a score as this piece throws obstacles and obstacles at you and the other players. Once you have completed the zone display, you will be connected to the other two players. Here every single board becomes a single combined board and players take turns dropping blocks to remove lines. The more lines that are removed, the more damage will be done to the mysterious part. The gameplay is super solid in this mode and I found it very fun because unlike other Tetris competitive modes, you actually feel like you’re working together. When a game is over, players can be revived to continue playing. The other multiplayer modes are a bit more classic. For example, a point attack and a zone mode that transfers all lines that are deleted when using zone to the other player as an obstacle. Resonair has also kept pace with weekly events that allow players to unlock special avatars to use in competitions and showcase online. The game also fully supports cross-play with all other versions, so you can even play Connected with friends on Xbox, PlayStation, Oculus and PC.
For a game that launches alongside the Nintendo Switch OLED, Tetris Effect: Connected couldn’t be a better choice to showcase the new OLED screen on the system. The game looks amazing on this big screen and it helps so much with the immersion. Both colors pop alive and make the game look a lot livelier during the levels in Travel Mode. It really is the best showcase of what sets the OLED screen apart from the other Nintendo Switch systems. Graphically, the game definitely took some compromises to run as smoothly as it did on the Nintendo Switch. While I didn’t notice any slowdowns and had a stable 60 FPS in both online and offline modes, the graphics are definitely not as sharp as other versions. To be honest, that’s a bit of a shame, but for me personally, Tetris Effect: Connected on the go is an absolute asset to my book. Yes, there is no VR support and these visuals are losing a few of their particle effects, but the music still rules and the gameplay is probably one of the best Tetris you can play on any system. This surpasses both Tetris 99 and Puyo Puyo Tetris for me as the best Tetris game on the Nintendo Switch and I honestly can’t praise it anymore.
So yeah, Tetris Effect: Connected is still Tetris at its core, but I think it’s so much more than that. It’s a bold visual statement. His focus on culture and human ability to connect through man-made things like art, music, science and games shines in each of the levels in Travel Mode. It takes Tetris to a level that goes beyond a mere puzzle game for the train or as software that an old gray handheld system was selling. It understands that Tetris is everywhere and is part of the culture. It understands that video games are a part of our world and have shared experiences and tries to communicate this through abstract worlds and ethereal music. While Tetris gameplay is still brilliant after all these years, Tetris Effect: Connected shows us just how much video games have grown as an art form. From abstract blocks falling into a void on an Elektronika 60 computer to this all-encompassing recognizable work of art. I love Tetris Effect: Connected because it keeps reminding me why I love video games. There’s really nothing like it. If you think this is just another game from Tetris, I especially urge you to give this game a try. Who knows? It can even change your life.