TL;DR – A very old-school kind of game with not much complexity mechanically, but with a story that gets its hooks into you wanting to explore this world
Disclosure – I paid for this game
Tron: Identity Review –
If anyone has met me before, you probably know of my love for the Tron universe. Everything from the visual aesthetic to the story and worldbuilding brings me in and excites me. Things have been light on the ground for the world since the third film went in and out of production. So when I heard there was a new game set in the universe, I was interested. When I discovered that it would be a narrative novel type of game leaning into the old Point & Click genre, well, now you have me intrigued.
So to set the scene, it has been many years since the failed Clu revolution in Tron: Legacy, and even longer since the origin grid in Tron. Long enough, the ‘Users’ have been almost relegated to myth or, for some, a religion to venerate. There have been wars for control. Some programs have even broken off to form their own societies, while Core has taken control of many things in the city. You play a Disciple of Tron, an investigator, an outsider within and without the system. You have been summoned to The Repository, where dangerous items and knowledge are stored. There has been an explosion, and something has been looted from their secure vaults.
My first experience with the developer Bithell Games was with the stunningly good Thomas was Alone [another game I highly recommend], which presented as a relatively straightforward puzzle game that increased in complexity as you continued. However, what it was really was a poignant story about self-discovery and sacrifice that emotionally broke me. There were some big shoes to follow, and I think the studio reached them with this game that was mechanically quite different, even if some similarity in the tonal elements could be felt.
You can feel yourself being sucked back into this world when you enter the game. The dark shapes of buildings highlighted lines of light, the rain dropping down onto the street as light cycles blast by, and a coat that you have always wanted to own, even though you know, you could never pull it off. Every part of the aesthetic that has made this world feel like it does is on show here. This is a small studio, and you understand going in that they might not have Daft Punk money, even if they were still working, but they do an excellent job of bringing you back into this universe and capturing you with its vibe at every level of design.
At the core, Tron: Identity is a puzzle game where you will only encounter two different puzzle types. The first is the narrative puzzle, which we will examine in a moment, and the second is a defrag puzzle. The explosion damaged many of the character’s memories from a narrative perspective. As such, you need to go in and help them reconstitute those memories through a game. I would not say these puzzles are complicated, but each iteration adds a new complexity keeping the experience fresh. The more I did the puzzle, the better I got, so you progressed from floundering around to more precision moves. This was important for the game, especially if you what to achieve the bonus achievement in each of the defrags. I did like the option to undo any move you made and rework it. However, I would have liked an option to restart when you have reached a fail-state rather than manually bringing it back to the start.
The narrative puzzle is you discovering who bombed the Repository and what did they steal. All of this is made more difficult by people’s memories being a bit fuzzy, an after-effect of the explosion. I am glad that given the game’s size and the story’s scope [that clocked into about 3 hours of runtime for me], the game limits how many characters we interact with. There are only six other companions that you will meet along the way, some friendly, some with their disks drawn, ready for a showdown. There is the right amount of complexity that when the game flagged that the repercussions of an action will be significant, it usually is. Indeed, many characters might not make it to the end of the game.
It is this story, more than anything, that will draw you in, and it got its hooks into me very quickly. I enjoyed exploring this world; the hints about the broader situation were fantastic worldbuilding opportunities. At every moment, you are looking out for pings in the background, hoping to discover another clue, which is a game mechanic that reinforces the narrative element that you are meant to be an observer. All of the characters are interesting, even when they are slightly off-putting, and your choices can have lasting effects on them. Like, audible gasp at what just happened effects. There are also enough branches that I would like to see how the game plays if I took a different direction in places.
In the end, do we recommend Tron: Identity? Yes, yes, we do. Now to be clear, this is a very game-light video game. So you won’t participate in games on the grid or much action at all. There is also not a lot of complexity on show, even for a Point & Click style game. But we get a game that fundamentally understands the universe it is working in. Also, a game that uses its simplicity to perfect interactions to create a compelling story.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you played Tron: Identity?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the staff of Tron: Identity
Game Direction & Writing – Mike Bithell
Art – Daz Watford, Jen Pattison, Jeff Robbins, Shaun Mooney, Simon Krieg, Baby Wilde, Marilyn Moats & Nick Atherton
Music/Sound – Dan Le Sac & Chris Randle
Code/Other – Hannah Rose, Alex Darby, Sam Febvre, Julia Brown & Vi Torres
Developer – Bithell Games
Publisher – Walt Disney Games