Tetris Effect, the hit VR game by Enhance, has made it to the Oculus Quest. It’s an essential pickup if the Quest is your VR platform of choice – here’s why.
Few games are as profoundly iconic as Alexey Pajitnov’s Tetris – to the point where its block shapes are recognized by people even when seen outside of the game’s context. There’s more to it, but that’s roughly the gist of what is referred to as the Tetris Effect – which through VR has now made it back into videogaming territory.
Initially released on PlayStation VR as well as on PC, the current release on the Oculus Store is exclusive to the Quest, and it’s a great conversion as the game that received a ton of critical acclaim when it released on other platforms. In a way, that was surprising, because what you’re getting is essentially the same Tetris we’ve known since 1984 (or, for many, since the GameBoy version).
The big change, of course, is Enhance’s approach to the game. As did they with Rez Infinite, they use VR to deliver an audiovisual spectacle that is simply impossible to match on a regular flat screen surface. While you’re focusing on your Tetris grid (which is still flat), you journey through a variety of landscapes ranging from a calming sunset to an underwater environment filled with dolphins. Sure, it can be a bit distracting at first, but it’s an experience that completely takes you of whatever you were doing before you put the headset on.
There’s a wide variety of game modes available to play, all designed to provide a different Tetris experience – with visual effects to match. Some give you a zen-like atmosphere and allow you to relax, while others have you performing under (time) pressure and keep you on the edge of your seat. No matter which mode you select, there’s a great interplay between what you’re playing and what your senses are experiencing – something that’s hard to explain on paper but which players will instantly get when they play Tetris Effect.
I started out playing using the standard Touch controllers, which works but doesn’t feel as tight – especially during the game’s more challenging modes. Thumbstick controls just don’t work as well for that “two spots to the right, then drop!”-sensation that is Tetris, but luckily the game supports gamepads as well. I haven’t tried this yet, but I believe Xbox One pads are supported so I’ll have to give that a go (and most likely, I won’t go back to the Touch controllers after that).
The Quest version looks very similar to the existing versions, albeit with slightly less detailed visuals and effects. This is to be expected, and because you’re mostly focused on your Tetris grid this won’t even register until you consciously shift your focus to the background, which doesn’t help in terms of clearing blocks, of course. The audio is brilliant as well, with great stereo effects that are best enjoyed with a good pair of headphones or earbuds – adding to the immersion.
If you already have Tetris Effect on another system then the biggest draw is that the game now is on a wireless platform, which is brilliant for when you want to just sit in the corner and play a quick game or two. This isn’t a physically active game so you don’t need a lot of space, and with the quest you don’t even need that bulky PC or flatscreen TV anymore. In that sense, it’s just like the GameBoy days, only this time there’s a grand audiovisual experience attached to it.