It feels like Tetris has been around since the dawn of time. Okay, so it’s only been around since 1984 (ancient, I know, Gen Zers). Ever the reliable franchise, with a new generation of consoles comes Tetris Effect Connected for Xbox Series X.
First released as Tetris Effect, the former PS4-exclusive puzzle game with PlayStation VR support has since come out on PC. Connected for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S adds an all-new cooperative multiplayer mode, as well as a new competitive mode.
The main single-player mode is Journey Mode. The developers call it a “voyage of emotion and discovery.” That comes off as a bit dramatic to me, but it is a neat experience nonetheless.
Basically, this mode is a series of levels, each of which has a unique graphics style and accompanying piece of music. Some of the levels are more subdued – even somewhat relaxing. Others are noisier both in their presentation and sound.
This made is basically traditional Tetris with a couple of twists. The goal here is to clear a certain number of lines without having the bricks pile up and reach the top of the screen. If that happens, you lose and have to restart the level. You score more points for clearing multiple lines at once – up to five, which is called a tetris.
Tetris Effect Connected has a unique take on the series with its “zone” feature. Time slows when you’re in the zone. It also lets you string together multiple tetrises. This is an opportunity to clear the board and rack up points, so make the best use of it. However, you can only enter the zone when the zone meter fills up, which is achieved through clearing lines.
There are some other things here that are more familiar to long-time Tetris fans. If you don’t like the tetromino that drops, you can hold it or swap it for another tetromino that you already set aside. This becomes quite handy, especially as the stages speed up. At the very least, it’s a failsafe if you’re about to misplace a block.
Journey Mode has three separate difficulty settings. Once you beat a level, you can replay it later. However, if you start on easy or normal, you’ll have to start from the beginning if you want to play on hard. So if you start on easy, you could possibly get three playthroughs out of the game. Unless you’ve never played Tetris before, I recommend starting on normal.
Effect Modes are meant to match your current mood. This is another single-player component of the game, although it does have a cooperative element as you contribute toward a weekly goal with all other players.
There are a number of different unique modes here. Marathon has you try to achieve the top score while clearing 150 lines. Ultra tasks you with getting the best score in just a three-minute window. Sprint is a race to clear 40 lines as quickly as possible.
There are also some less predictable modes here. Mystery earns its name. The goal is to try to survive for as long as possible while random effects keep popping up on the screen. For instance, it might not allow you to hold and swap blocks. There are also effects that invert the controls and turn the screen upside-down so that the blocks “fall” up instead of down.
The multiplayer is broken up into several different game modes including both competitive and cooperative modes. You can play a ranked match, a friend match with invitations from your friends list, or a local match.
There are four different modes to choose from: Connected, Zone Battle, Score Attack, and Classic Score Attack. I wanted to try out the different multiplayer modes but was unfortunately unable to find a game after several attempts. Does no one play this game?
Tetris Effect Connected is a fun, artsy take on the classic franchise. The groovy music and captivating visual effects make this more than just a puzzle game. It’s a delightful audio-visual experience.