Tron: Identity Review – Neo-noir greatness

Reviewed April 12, 2023 on Nintendo Switch


PC, Nintendo Switch


April 11, 2023


Bithell Games


Bithell Games

Set over 2000 years following the events of 2010’s Tron: Legacy arrives Tron: Identity, a new video game entry for the cult sci-fi franchise. Developed by Thomas Was Alone and John Wick Hex creator Bithell Games, it’s yet another wonderful example of the team flexing their creative writing muscles. Better yet, it does so with impactful grace, bringing more light and excellence into a frankly underrated franchise that’s been sitting dormant for a decade.

Tron: Identity takes place in a gigantic building known as the Repository. Home to many valuable items and data, it’s a facility in a new Grid server, tucked away and long forgotten by its creator Kevin Flynn and human society. You are a detective by the name of Query, tasked with finding answers to the heist that recently occurred at the building. The only problem? All its occupants can’t remember a lick of the events, including who the perpetrator was and what was stolen.

That’s an enticing draw and spin on the franchise, one I’m happy to see come from Bithell Games. Whether it’s giving their own amazing take on Solitaire or creative ventures in the VR space, you can always count on the team to give it their all and have something unique to bring to the table. With that in mind, I loved that they got to be the ones to revive the Tron franchise miraculously. How the team has chosen to do so is via a visual novel format. It’s exciting and very fitting to see their work and worldbuilding expertise in the genre (established originally in Subsurface Circularcontinue in Identity. Finally, fans have more tidbits about the weird and wonderful world that is Tron.

That weird world is what will be the most novel about Tron: Identity and where it will lose others. Deep implications for the franchise are found throughout lines of dialogue. Query is what’s known as a ‘Disciple of Tron.’ If you’re versed in the franchise, you’d know Tron is missing and even presumed dead by the end of Tron: Legacy. Now, millennia later, he’s a religious figure that Programs and Users worship and talk about with divisiveness. Some consider Tron fighting for the Users (those that are humans entering the Grid rather than programs created for the Grid) to be heresy while others speak of the figure with great reverence. Uncovering these worldbuilding tidbits will be extremely engaging for fans of the franchise, bolstered all the more by the incredibly apt writing used to get this across. Texts found in books, statements that at first appear to be non-sequiturs that then open up to something deeper… the list of how this is creatively explored goes on.

Making up the cast are varied and creative characters that could only exist in the Tron universe and penned by the studio. Likely accompanying you upon your journey (at least depending on your choices) is a grizzled and greying bodyguard by the name of Grish. A mysterious and corporate individual called Prinz is who called you in on this investigation, situated within their office at the tower’s peak. Other obscure individuals include the ethereal Ada that’s housed in the library while the ever-pure and perhaps most void of memories Cass remains at the Vault. As you’d expect, each character is draped in striking clothing and vibrant colours. Fluorescent purples, blues and reds to name a few.

You can tell the characters and the environment were developed with deep and intimate care. Sometimes you’ll be exposed to static images in a scene, where the only thing moving is heavy rainfall hammering down upon you as you step outside on a landing pad. Close-up shots of the character’s profiles are equally stunning, reflecting the intricate detailing that would come from an oil painting. Truth be told you’re in safe hands with Tron: Identity in terms of experiencing an immersive, believable and beautiful neon-drenched world. Only the best for a franchise that always is pushing the barrier whenever a new entry comes around.

The only time this beauty lets up is in some of the character models when you see them explored in more 3D spaces. They at times look a little chunky and the low resolution on the Switch does nothing to help this. It’s not entirely going to ruin one’s experience but should be taken into consideration if you find yourself distracted by such a thing. If so, PC is likely the way to go.

Otherwise, Tron: Identity is an incredibly solid visual novel experience. Each playthrough will only take you about two hours or so to get through. Players keen on seeing all ends to the mystery and the many ways it can unfold, along with uncovering every tidbit of lore added to your codex will want to take advantage of this. What follows is really gripping and engaging storytelling. As it becomes clearer and clearer to both Query and the supporting cast about the ongoings of the Repository’s heist, the high-intensity conflict will ensue. How you make more sense of what is going on is by seeing the natural visual novel plot progress, making different dialogue choices and, crucially, helping characters recover their memories.

Query helps the Repository occupants recover their memories by ‘defragging’ their identity discs tied to their backs. A puzzle minigame is used in these moments. These occur in just about every scene you’re in, as you navigate from environment to environment. The puzzles are relatively simple and minimalistic. Laid out before you is a semicircle (representing the disc) full of nodes that has both a number and a symbol on them. You have to whittle down the number of nodes to as low as possible, by matching up an individual node with another that uses the same number or symbol.

Where the challenge comes is that you can only match with those one or three slots from another. Sometimes modifiers such as unusable nodes will be thrown into the mix just to spice up the fun. I’m not going to pretend like it’s the deepest puzzle mechanic you’ll find, but it is an effective means of breaking up scenes and lines upon lines of writing.

Upon restoring these memories, moving realisations often occur. Maybe some recall a deeply traumatic event with them, that they now have to again reckon with, leaving the player wondering if getting that small bit of information on the case was worth it in the long run. Perhaps this is how you realise how complicit one character is in the mystery over another. These are just some of the events I witnessed, once more being exposed to expert writing from Bithell Games.

There are the occasional times I wished Tron: Legacy had more of the typical visual novel conveniences. To pull up a chat log to revise what was previously said you have to pause the game and navigate menus rather than just a simple button press. I too wish there were ways the game kept more convenient track of my choices in prior runs, making subsequent playthroughs all the more streamlined. It’s not the end of the world that these features aren’t there, but it’s often you’ll find the titles that do include this stand out even more.

There’s plenty of fun to be had with being a detective in the Tron universe. There are many threads to pull at and investigate with each playthrough, along with intense exchanges and reveals. Characters can be lost, taken out of the equation entirely as you fight to take control of the power struggle that slowly unfolds within the Repository. This makes for a thrilling and well-realised neo-noir story worth experiencing for visual novel fans.




  • Excellent worldbuilding that expands on the franchise in meaningful ways
  • Writing that feels like you're there in the moment
  • Simple but effective puzzles that work diegetically
  • Captivating 2D character art that's drenched in neon


  • Missing some visual novel conveniences
  • 3D models in the environment can at times be low in fidelity

Tron: Identity is a great and fitting return for the sci-fi franchise, providing a gripping neo-noir story that bubbles away on a single moody, rainy night. Foundations of the exciting, futuristic world explored years prior are now realised even further thanks to the highly detailed writing talent at Bithell Games, making you feel like you’re there amongst the chaos. Though at times missing some of the typical visual novel conveniences and containing crunchy 3D models, the world laid bare — the world of Tron —  is exciting once more. Striking character profiles, eloquent writing and effective puzzles all help in reminding us of the fact that Tron as a franchise is special and a little weird but most importantly here to stay. Remember that.