Tetris Effect is the latest game from Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Enhance, Inc., and the latest version of Tetris after decades of iteration by developers around the globe. Tetris may not sound like a naturally impressive VR experience, but it you're familiar with Mizuguchi's past work, you can probably imagine how his flair for music and colorful visuals will do a lot of the heavy lifting. In fact, Lumines, a puzzle game spearheaded by Mizuguchi during his time at Q Entertainment, was born out of his inability to create his own Tetris game after completing work on Rez; you'll recognize a lot of its DNA in Tetris Effect.
Like many other Mizuguchi games, Tetris Effect is designed to make you feel like an active participant of the overall sensory experience. You are primarily focused on playing Tetris the way you always have, but beats and other sounds are triggered by your actions, creating a highly effective feedback loop. Before you realize it, you'll begin to match your movements and actions to notes, half-notes, or whatever timing feels right in a given stage. However you wish to define the mental bridge that forms when you connect music and gameplay, the heightened version that occurs while playing Tetris Effect in VR is difficult shake once it sets in.
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Where a game like Thumper achieved similar results, it was primarily interested in ramping up the BPM whilst simultaneously layering on more stressful and sinister visuals to complete the dark sci-fi atmosphere it was going for. Tetris Effect's suite, on the other hand, is built with a dynamic journey in mind, one that rises and falls in tone and intensity as you jump from one virtual soundscape to the next.
Being not just enveloped within the sights and sounds, but isolated from the real world, results in an atypical sense of immersion despite the abstract elements that fuel it. Tetris Effect is more effective at getting in your head than most games that try to immerse you in realistic worlds, which so often show cracks or stumble into the uncanny valley. Rather than attempt to bring your physical and mental self into a virtual world, Tetris Effect is aimed squarely at making you detach from your physical self to fully embrace the swirling digital realm in your head.
At this stage, it's fair to say Mizuguchi knows what he's doing, and that he's been waiting a long time to make a game like Tetris Effect. We recently had the chance to sit down with him discuss his Tetris background and how his desire to develop VR games has carried him throughout his career, from one artistic game to the next. In the video at the top of the page, you can learn how from his early days playing in arcades as a student, to his life making games at Sega, the past 30 years of events have been leading up to his latest game.
For a look back at Mizuguchi's previous PSVR hit, have a peek at our Rez Infinite review. Scoring it a 9, author Alexa Ray Corriea said "Rez Infinite is the game to buy a PSVR for. It's hypnotic and enveloping. And it's transformative, both within itself and in the wider scheme of the experiences made possible by VR."
PS4 owners can get a taste of Tetris Effect when the Tetris Effect: Weekend Trial Demo goes live on Nov. 1. Act soon if you're interested, because the demo will expire on Nov. 5. And stay tuned for our review, which will go live closer to the game's Nov. 9 release date.