The definition of Synaesthesia is “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body”.
If that sounds confusing, then think of it this way – at a most basic level, it’s the intertwining of two senses, the way some people can taste something they smell, or associate sounds with colour.
You’re unlikely to see the connection between this phenomenon and the age-old game of Tetris, but Tetris Effect is here to bridge that gap, coming from producer Tetsuya Mizuguchi. It’s an old favourite given new life, but let’s start from the beginning.
If you weren’t aware, Tetris is the quintessential puzzle game and that hasn’t changed with this latest iteration.
It’s still helplessly addictive lining up blocks, and for better or worse if you’ve played Tetris before you’ll know what to expect – at least when playing on your PlayStation 4.
Connect up a PlayStation VR headset though and Tetris Effect transforms into one of the fledgeling platform’s finest titles.
Aural and visual feedback intertwine to present each level as a symphonic, metronomic feast for the senses.
One early level ties the dropping of blocks into percussion instruments, with swirling abstract art engulfing the player’s view – it’s mesmeric.
As you’d expect, things begin simply – the game easing you into your new perspective. The first level in the game’s “Journey” mode is a darkened cavern of sorts, a Manta Ray floating in the background while the game’s electronic soundtrack begins to swell.
Reach the required number of cleared lines, and you’ll move to the next vignette, this time with a fresh aesthetic and another song playing.
On the subject of the soundtrack, Tetris Effect plays best when using the headset’s in-ear buds. The way it weaves from shimmering synths to percussive rhythm could be jarring, but it’s woven perfectly.
There’s nothing like it, and it begins to feel difficult to discern whether the music is leading the player or vice-versa. Never has such a relatively simple game been transformed by new technology.
The Verdict – 5/5
– Reviewed on PlayStation VR
To play Tetris Effect without VR is to attend the opera with earplugs in. In fact, Tetris Effect on PlayStation VR is arguably not something you play at all – it’s an experience, albeit one built on well-trodden gameplay and a superlative soundtrack. It’s synaesthesia incarnate, an orchestra conducted by the player, and well worth the price of admission.
- Perfect melding of sounds and visuals
- Classic Tetris gameplay
- One of gaming’s best soundtracks
- Less impressive without VR