Tetris Effect

Game review by
Jeff Haynes, Common Sense Media
Tetris Effect Game Poster Image
Classic puzzle gameplay remixed with VR, engaging effects.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Focuses on persevering through challenging puzzles, testing your skills against steep odds or other players, being mellow in the face of stress.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No characters to play in the game; you're simply clearing blocks.

Ease of Play

Simple to learn and easy to play, but challenge comes in varying speeds of levels, which can ruin chances to succeed.


Latest title in the long-running popular Tetris franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tetris Effect is a downloadable puzzle game for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR. The game is the latest installment in the long-running and extremely popular puzzle franchise, and has expanded its reach into virtual reality for the first time. The gameplay builds on the "easy to learn, hard to master" formula that made the original title so gripping, although it increases the challenge at times by varying the speed that puzzle blocks descend on the screen. This test of reflexes could frustrate players who can't react fast enough. There's no inappropriate content to be found in the game. Parents should also be aware that virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids under 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.

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What's it about?

TETRIS EFFECT is the latest installment in the long-running puzzle franchise where players assemble falling blocks into lines to clear them from the playing area. This time around, the puzzle game has been updated for the 21st century with new effects, soundtracks, music, and, for the first time, virtual reality support. The action is centered around two separate modes: Journey and Effects. Journey is the campaign mode of the game, where players select a difficulty level and play through a group of stages, each having a different level of speed and challenge. Effects pulls the 30-plus stages from the Journey mode and groups them into four sections, each with its own degree of difficulty, such as clearing 40 lines as fast as possible or using automatically falling I-blocks (or Tetriminos) to clear lines. Additionally, each weekend, players are given the opportunity to participate in a Weekend Ritual, where all players participate toward accomplishing a goal in a 24-hour period, unlocking unique avatars if successful. Will you successfully clear lines, or will you fall to the Tetris Effect?

Is it any good?

This new chapter of the classic puzzle game reinvents the franchise with new features, tons of challenges, and an audiovisual presentation that's out of this world. Tetris Effect breathes new life into the line-clearing format by taking players on an audio and visual journey that moves from the depths of the seas to the sands of the desert and even to outer space. But this isn't the old Tetris that you're accustomed to. Along with the sound effects attached to each piece as you move, rotate, and drop it in place, the stages accelerate the speed that pieces drop or move, changing two or three times per level. As a result, the gameplay has a larger sense of movement and pacing than ever before. What's also notable is the inclusion of the new Zone mechanic. As you clear lines, you fill a meter that can be triggered at any time, pausing blocks and giving you a chance to eliminate sections of the map until the meter runs out. Any cleared lines immediately drop to the bottom, which is useful if you need to fix mistakes you've made or want bonus points. Zone lets you make incredible combos that can be more than 10 lines in sequence, but its tactical use, especially on fast-paced stages, can't be stated enough; it's a game changer that evolves Tetris into a new format.

Effects mode is also notable for its challenge collection, which can easily make you say, "Just one more game," as you try to unlock new avatars or songs. There are 15 submodes in all, ranging from the standard Marathon mode, where you clear as many lines as possible, to timed challenges. Two really stand out as clear stars: Purify gives you three minutes to clear infected blocks that continually spawn as you clear lines. Mystery, on the other hand, throws random effects at you as you try to clear as many lines as possible, such as giant blocks, flipping the game map upside down, or even detonating bombs. Plus, if you chose to use it, the VR is striking: The remixed sounds and the visuals that fly out of the screen really envelope you in sound and light, making the line clearing even more surreal and amazing. If there's one issue, it's that the game doesn't offer multiplayer of any kind, but this could easily be remedied in the future. Overall, Tetris has never looked better or had more addictive play. If you're a puzzle fan, you owe it to yourself to dive into the Tetris Effect.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Parents can talk about persevering against a challenge. Tetris Effect can test both your reflexes and your patience because of its speed. How do you keep yourself motivated to try again after failing a level? Can you take this idea and transfer it to real life?

  • Should Tetris Effect have had a multiplayer component? Is the gameplay strengthened by focusing solely on single-player puzzles?

Game details

  • Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR
  • Price: $39.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Enhance Games
  • Release date: November 9, 2018
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • ESRB rating: E for No Descriptions
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love puzzles

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