Disney’s TRON has become something of a cult classic in decades since its release in 1982, so much so that Disney is clearly still interested in seeing if there is any more cash to milk from this neon-lit cow.
In fact, for such a flash in the pan, Disney has released a lot more TRON media than you might think.
Two films, with one more apparently still in the works, although I doubt that ever sees the light of day, twelve games, to say nothing of TRON-related things appearing in other Disney titles, one short film, one tv series, a whole series of novels, several comic runs, and probably much more.
TRON Identity is just the latest product to add to the pile. A visual novel developed by Mike Bithell Games, sees players take on the role of Query a DoT (Disciple of TRON), tasked with uncovering the truth regarding an explosion. In true visual novel style, the plot moves along according to your choices in conversations with a small cast of characters.
The world is every inch the TRON I remember, dark and broody with the only light coming from incandescent neon strips decorating every surface. It is a fantastic backdrop for this sort of noir detective tale. Couple that with a pulsing synth soundtrack and you are fully immersed in The Grid.
Each static image accompanying the dialogue feels straight out of a story-board meeting. The light, tones, and sound all combine into a feast for the senses.
However, for me, this is as far as the interest went. What follows is a fairly bland story, you journey between a small number of locales, asking questions of programmes you find there. Making choices that you are unsure of their impact on the wider scope of the narrative. Does it matter that I annoyed 50% of the people I encountered, or is that the optimum strategy for the game?
This quandary might be compelling in a game with a more engaging story to tell, but I found myself uninterested in the pseudo-religious war between users and programmes, the debate surrounding the freedom of information, and just who caused the explosion.
The other issue I have with TRON Identity is the length of the game. You can crank out a single playthrough in around an hour. Perhaps this, once again, is to encourage multiple playthroughs, choosing different options in order to see various paths, but instead, it just feels empty and shallow.
Additionally, the game attempts to give players a break from reading by incorporating a mini-game into the story. The programmes you encounter seem to be suffering from a form of memory loss and by defragging their ID discs, you can restore their cognitive functions. A nice idea in truth but lacking in execution, as the mini-game in question is merely a matching exercise that, whilst somewhat complex at times, can just be skipped with no consequence. In a game driven by narrative choices, this strikes me as odd.
Maybe TRON diehards will get more out of Identity than I did. But to me, TRON Identity feels a lot like most TRON media: stale and running out of ideas.