Tetris Effect, The Complexities of Purify and Life Itself

Part of the Effects Modes, Purify represents a deep level of strategy while illustrating relationships.

Posted By | On 26th, Nov. 2018 Under Article, Editorials


Preparation isn’t an afterthought in Tetris Effect. Preparation has always been a key part of Tetris – thinking several blocks ahead, setting up spaces for line clears and combos, and discerning patterns. However, you’re never fully prepared when playing Tetris Effect.

Journey Mode sets this tone early, as stages morph in unexpected ways. The music and rhythm pulse with every block that you shift and place. It feels like your mind is there, even if it’s subconsciously locked to the rhythm. At first, this presentation distracted and bewildered me but it slowly caught on. Tetris caught on, as it usually does, and everything felt like a backdrop.

I like to think of it as a musical from the actors’ perspective. There’s so much happening, dancers hopping back and forth, scenery changing and instrumentals coming to life. But the actors themselves are focused – their every nuance, every motion and every bit of spontaneity, is sharp.

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"On the surface, it seems simple. The board is filled with infected or Dark Blocks. You’re job is to clear as many of them as possible."

However, there’s one mode that seemingly defies this for me. Everything doesn’t shift to the background, I can’t ignore what’s happening, I need to keep playing and witness what’s before me as I partake in it. Is it ritualistic? Obsessive? Probably but that’s what Purify did to me.

Besides Journey, there are different Effects Modes for the player to partake in. These are composed of four moods – Classic, Chill, Focus and Adventurous. These moods are essentially lists of modes. Classic has regular Tetris which challenges you to clear a set number of lines with no Zone Meter. There’s also Marathon where you clear as many lines as possible as the speed gradually increases.

Chill is a lot more relaxed – there are no Game Overs in its modes and you’re treated to curated playlists with serene locales and relaxing music. Focus is objective-based – rack up a set number of combos, clear as many target blocks as possible, etc. It’s Adventurous where things take a walk on the weird side. It has Mystery, which is basically classic Tetris with random modifiers like enormous blocks, incomplete blocks or the screen being flipped upside down as the controls are reversed. It has Countdown where “I” blocks fall in pre-determined places and you must play around them to rack up huge scores.

And then there’s Purify.

On the surface, it seems simple. The board is filled with infected or Dark Blocks. You’re job is to clear as many of them as possible. Various sparkling blocks, which I call Sparkles, must also be cleared in the process. Properly exploiting the objective can be a little complex.

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"Of course, this being Tetris, there are other strategies. You could do a bit of planning, hitting Tetrises and just straight up clearing multiple lines of Sparkles at once."

Clearing the Sparkles will allow for direct line-clearing of the Dark Blocks. As more Dark Blocks are cleared, the screen will mostly consist of Sparkles. To compensate, not only will some Dark Blocks be pushed up but a few Sparkles will be converted to Dark Blocks as well. Either way, having enough Dark Blocks in your line clears is a good thing. Right?

Of course, this being Tetris, there are other strategies. You could do a bit of planning, hitting Tetrises and just straight up clearing multiple lines of Sparkles at once. Some Dark Blocks are cleared randomly but the numbers aren’t as high as clearing multiple lines of them continuously. Still, this strategy allows for more dictation on future combos.

However, it’s possible to go overboard with the planning and stack up too many Sparkles. Then a few more Dark Blocks could be pushed up and you’re effectively in trouble. Not only do you have to deal with the potential threat of a Game Over but it may not net as many “guaranteed” Dark Block clears.

So obviously clearing the lines as quickly as possible is ideal, right? Well, here’s the rub – doing a bit of planning and not clearing all the Sparkles will provide more Dark Blocks than effectively clearing away everything. As noted above, not only are some Dark Blocks pushed up but some Sparkles also become Dark Blocks. Maintaining that balance is a little tricky. Clearing away as many lines as possible initially is encouraged but it’s not the be-all, end-all of this mode.

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"Much like everything else in this game, the mood of Purify is beautifully conveyed. There’s a very clear theme of Light versus Dark."

Also, Purify is still bound by the rules of Tetris. While all of this is happening, you still have to take into account the different blocks falling, how they fit in with your plans and whether they can be cleared before things pile up too much. With a timer counting down and more Dark Blocks entering the board, Purify feels more immediate and tense as a result.

It’s crazy how much depth there is to this mode. In many ways, it’s just classic Tetris, where line-clearing players and combo-makers can thrive in their own ways. In another way, it brings to mind Tetris Attack as players are constantly clearing junk and trying to work their way around the constant Dark Blocks.

Much like everything else in this game, the mood of Purify is beautifully conveyed. There’s a very clear theme of Light versus Dark. The Sparkles convey hope and optimism – every time a line is cleared, the entire screen shimmers brightly (which is more than a little distracting. It’s downright entrancing in fact). However, when the Dark Blocks emerge, the music turns foreboding.

The controller vibrates as the blocks stack higher and higher. Maybe there’s hope, maybe there isn’t. Maybe there is a symbiotic relationship between light and darkness. Why else would the Sparkles turn into Dark Blocks? Perhaps there can be no light without darkness and vice versa? Maybe the fact that the light is almost blinding is a testament to how necessary the soothing darkness is?

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"Relationships seem to be at the core of Tetris Effect – light and darkness, Yin and Yang, opposites attracting, fire and ice, the list goes on."

Playing Tetris Effect can be many things. Therapeutic. Hypnotic. Entrancing. But it’s not just the visuals that are ensnaring people. It’s the tandem work of the visuals with the gameplay, the feedback of the blocks and the corresponding music notes they generate upon dropping. Relationships seem to be at the core of Tetris Effect – light and darkness, Yin and Yang, opposites attracting, fire and ice, the list goes on. It’s almost as if the community aspect of Tetris Effect, as opposed to the competitive aspect of traditional Tetris, is being reinforced.

Perhaps the song “Connected (Yours Forever)”, the very first song in Journey Mode illustrates this best. We’re all connected. We’re all together. They do say that hate is another form of love after all. If nothing else, Purify illustrates this relationship with its own nuanced gameplay complexities in a way that’s familiar, ensnaring and all encompassing.

You probably don’t need any more reasons to play Tetris Effect, what with its gorgeous aesthetic, amazing soundtrack, stellar twists on the conventional formula and amazing gameplay. However, my only reason is Purify and it’s strangely satisfying how a part of such an excellent game could be enough.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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