Since the world of Tron was introduced with the release of the original movie in 1982, the digital world of programs and users has always been ripe for further exploration. Over the years a number of movies, books and video games have explored various aspects of its world with varying degrees of success, and now developer Bithell Games is adding its own original story to the electronic cityscape with the interactive visual novel Tron Identity. The game incorporates many of the things that make a visual novel good, but it also feels inherently constrained by having a short story and limited locations to visit. Fans of all things Tron will find it a fun experience for a few hours, but those who aren’t fans of the IP or visual novels probably won’t find much to hold their attention.
In a city far from the movies, but with the knowledge and influence of what happens in the movies, the player is introduced to the dark neon world as Query, a member of the Disciples of Tron. Their sole function as a program is to pursue the truth, and as digital detectives, players will face choices and consequences that may or may not change everything. It’s an interactive mystery with multiple endings that does a good job of drawing players into the world. Tron, however, some users will struggle with the restrictions needed to change the outcome of the abridged story. Tron: Identity feels like another look at what it would be like to explore the world of Tron away from Clu or any of the Flynns, father or son. It’s an exciting look at a vast world full of its own unique problems and societal issues.
While it only takes a few hours to complete the first playthrough, Tron: Identity has a fun and intriguing story for users to unravel. A mystery that unfolds slowly at first, but picks up the pace just beyond the halfway point. It’s almost impossible to stay spoiler-free while touching on what makes the story interesting, but it does a great job of putting players in the role of a detective struggling with the idea of making choices, and there are plenty of options to make throughout the story. .
Query doesn’t offer much personality, so users can make decisions based on what they want rather than what they think Query is capable of. The player’s first decision actually comes very quickly as soon as they start the story, and while it may not seem very important at first glance, players will quickly realize how much each choice can affect the other characters’ attitudes towards Query. This works by moving the story forward in whatever way the players want (such as always accepting help or refusing to move forward as a lone wolf), but makes it impossible to stray from the path once the choice has been made. There are few (if any) opportunities in Query for a character who becomes angry or frustrated to change the player’s perspective, and the consequences of these decisions will undoubtedly cause players to complete the story several times to ensure they can experience the game’s multiple endings. .
This lack of flexibility after making choices could be a product of the story being so short, or perhaps offering these opportunities goes beyond the scope of what the developers could reasonably sustain. Either way, it feels like the story would have been even more engaging if it could have expanded a bit more to include ways to somehow restore the feel. Having only a limited number of main locations where the story takes place also contributes to this constricting feeling. Tron: Identity does a good job of bouncing the story between places. There really isn’t any opportunity to explore outside the confines of the narrative, as every location will throw the player out until the story rhythm picks up again. The entire story takes place in a massive 48-story skyscraper, so it’s a pity there’s nothing else to investigate, but the story locations are very well adapted to the needs of the mystery tale.
Tron: Identity’s visuals do an excellent job of immersing players in a rainy, neon-filled world. Known for Tron. Every scene is somehow dominated by lots of bright blues, reds, and interspersed with orange and green colors. Tron fans will be mostly pleased with how good the hand-drawn art looks. However, the more they look at it during each subsequent playthrough, the more they will notice a definite lack of detail in certain aspects of the art. The background walls and certain set pieces within a machine universe look almost stark when users can look beyond the bright lights. While there is some truth to the fact that a machine universe will probably strive for a more minimalist design, the more one looks at it, the harder it becomes to ignore. Being plain is certainly not the worst thing a game can do graphically, and perhaps most won’t even notice unless they look for it.
Each character’s design is eye-catching and bright, feeling like a layer of digital enhancement layered on top of hand-drawn art that creates a unique and pleasing look for each one. Each character has a unique look and feel, from the rude and stern security guard, to the calm and serene librarian, and so on.
None have deviated from this trend, which sometimes feels one-dimensional and easy to manipulate. It’s easy to argue that this is by design, but these characters are essentially computer programs, but with personalities shown in various discussions, growing and changing over time, it seems like they could have even more depth, with a little more exploration of what Tron: Identity explores. Perhaps these are stories that could be told at another time, but it takes away from feeling a deeper connection with the various characters.
Bithell Games’ choice to move small parts of each scene, such as a steady rain while the characters are still, helps the story come alive more than static imagery ever could. In more tense moments, it’s particularly effective at adding a sense of pressure and gravitas to any situation. Unfortunately, players won’t spend as much time in these areas as they should. It also helps that users can move their view slightly from the default position, although this is more for aesthetic pleasure than anything else.
Tron: Identity is well written and easily conveys the story, but there are a few moments of interactive dialog that feel forced. It’s not necessarily bad or poorly defined, but there are moments where the dialog feels rushed to complete the interaction between characters. Dialog is often difficult to create, so when it needs to be completed within a certain number of frames, it makes sense that it feels dense. Otherwise, the character interactions are believable and the descriptors are well written and enjoyable to read.
While optional, the only mini-game players will experience is disappointing for its lack of challenge and repetitiveness. It involves almost a circle with small number tabs and color-coded symbols placed around it, which the user must match to clear one of the two tabs on the disc. There are blockers that occur during the storyline that make the puzzle harder to solve, separating each set from each other, or modifiers that randomly select two tabs and change their position, but these are rarely challenging. There are unlocks that players can earn by fulfilling certain conditions during p>
Tron: Identity is a fun but short, visual novel mystery. It uses history and atmosphere. Tron in delightful ways to create an interactive story that fans will enjoy the first time around. It looks nice and reads easy, and the other obvious stumble is with a non-challenging mini-game that players will quickly get bored with. Despite its limited exploration, fans of the Tron universe who love the visual novels will enjoy the decision-making process of a story set away from the usual digital and non-digital heroes.
Tron: Identity is now available on PC and Switch. Today Technology was provided with a PC code for this review.
Reviewed on PC
Tron: Identity is a new extension of the Tron franchise that allows players to forge their own path as Query, a detective trying to solve a mystery. Featuring beautiful hand-drawn art and an incredible soundtrack, the game includes rich world-building and engaging puzzle-solving missions.