During my holiday Bren and I decided to get Tetris Effect: Connected, because it was available at a nice discount. I rarely buy games at full price these days, because I’m not a day one player for most games, with the occasional exception, like Pokémon Brilliant Diamond. Bren also really likes Tetris and this one has multiplayer and after I told her it’s even possible to play together, we decided to give this game a go. I’ve also played the single player content and this game has a lot to offer, so let’s dive in, shall we?
Tetris has always been mostly a single player experience for me. Although I did play versus mode every now and then and played Tetris 99 when it first released on the Nintendo Switch I just enjoy the game more by myself, usually. Tetris Effect: Connected offers several single player modes. First and foremost is the Journey mode, which makes you go through all kinds of different stages as you journey through the galaxy to make lines disappear as fast and efficiently as you can. This mode is one big adventure featuring many different themes, with wildly active graphics and interactive music that gets more intense as you finish more lines.
While this mode feels somewhat like a showcase for the game I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by all the graphical “violence” happening on the screen. If you’re prone to epileptic attacks, I’d advise to tone down every graphical option to its bare minimum. And even then, you can’t really stop the game from being flashy and, needlessly graphical at times. Since Bren is also very susceptible to flashing images and strobe effects I found it sad that it’s impossible to just tone the game down to a nice looking Tetris game without all the needless effects.
Besides the aforementioned Journey mode there’s also the Effects mode, which feature a ton of different styles to play Tetris. From very zen experiences to extremely stressful pro modes. I thoroughly enjoyed playing the more “zen” modes, because once Tetris gets to level 10+ I usually don’t like the game that much anymore. I love a challenge, but I also love staying sane.
As with the single player part of the game, Tetris Effect: Connected offers several different multiplayer types. Most of them a take on the versus mode, but the most interesting addition is a cooperative mode that allows you to team up with three players against one player. Of course, the lone player has more power and will constantly be able to prevent the other three players from making lines. However, once the other three players have made a certain amount of lines, their playfields will merge together and all the lines they make in that short time will cause the lone player to bump up his entire field. If one of the three players gets a game over, they can also try to revive themselves by pressing a button at the right time. This takes a lot of time, however, so the chance to get back into the game is small, but not impossible. It is definitely our favourite way to play multiplayer, because we like cooperative games.
Music and atmosphere
Tetris Effect: Connected is one of those games that is designed around “effects”. As such, the game is both a graphical and musical treat, but only if you’re into psychedelic, almost hypnotic experiences. When I was playing the game with its default settings I told Bren that even for me it was sometimes a bit overwhelming with all the lights, strobe effects and other things distracting you from the actual game. I do really like some of the themes, but there are a lot of them who are quite hard to follow and see, even if you put the playing field on the opaque setting.
When it comes to the music, I love how the music is interactive and becomes more and more prominent as you keep clearing lines. Every level starts off slowly and “blooms” as you continue forward. The music is very digitally oriented and being more of a metalhead I definitely didn’t like all the songs and some of them are straight up annoying. Vocals are also part of the soundtrack and, well, I’m not impressed by any of them, to be fair. The lyrics are very mediocre and all about being “connected”.
Tetris Effect: Connected is a very ambitious title and wants to be the ultimate Tetris experience. It’s quite clear when you start the game. While I agree that the game definitely delivers on the gameplay, the graphical effects and music distract way too much from the actual game to offer this ultimate experience for me personally. The game does offer a very zen experience in the Relax mode, and that’s probably where I’ll spend most of my playing time, and the coop multiplayer, because that alone is worth it!
I will definitely be playing this game every now and then, in between playing other games, but I think a more simplistic approach, or at least the option to turn off all the graphical nonsense so you can focus on what’s important, namely the gameplay, would have been nice. Tetris Effect: Connected is definitely worth playing and Tetris games in general are games you usually play for short bursts of entertainment and that is exactly what this game does.