During this year's Game Awards, there was a trailer for a new TRON game. "Huh," we all thought. "There's a new TRON game coming out?" As it happend, the game, which is unfortunately called TRON Run/r, was out that very moment in Steam Early Access. "Huh," we collectively thought again.
It's all a little bit... weird. The game is brought to us by Disney, not exactly a small-potatoes operation, and TRON is a well-known title, from the original 1982 film and a number of arcade and video games since. There was also TRON: Legacy, the film from 2010, which had some good stuff—the kickass Daft Punk soundtrack that I'm listening to as I write this, an excellent light-bike sequence, and some fantastic visuals—but far more bad stuff, like the entire script, the generically dull lead actor, and the idea that a computer generated Jeff Bridges would be even remotely convincing especially when the real Jeff Bridges was standing right there. Anyway, it made $400 million worldwide.
So, it's TRON, and it's Disney, both big names. And, while it's not noted on the Steam page, or seemingly anywhere else, this entry in Steamdb indicates it's being developed by Sanzaru Games, which has a number of console and mobile titles under its belt. But a glance at TRON Run/r's Early Access page reads like a teenager scribbling fan fiction during a lull in math class:
"Kevin Flynn…he is a legend. Space Paranoids, TRON the whole deal. The man came up with so many ideas. The world needs to see them. See what they tried to hide. So much unseen for so long. Right now there's one mode, 'RUNNER', that plays great. There are a few levels in this first build, and more will be added as they are finished. 'CYCLE' mode will be ready in a few weeks. In the meantime, your feedback would be great. Here it is. The truth. RUN PROGRAM! More to come."
The playable bit of TRON (I'm already tired of typing run/r) is sorta cool, though! It's a game in which you run—you probably guessed this much—down a neon track. Obstacles appear for you to steer around, jump over, and slide under. Some barriers can be destroyed by quickly flinging your identity disc at them, and enemies sprout up along the track that can be similarly dispensed with or dodged. The track itself turns and winds and sometimes leads you up and down sheer walls.
As you play the three tracks (that's currently all there are), you learn some new moves. Electronic wings can sprout from your back, allowing you to glide across gaps and chasms, through floating rings, or between jump-boosting pads. You can also wall-run when the floor entirely drops out. It's a fast-paced and frenetic experience, as you charge down the tracks with only the briefest of moments to react to enemies, obstacles, or changes in the track ahead, and it feels good when you nail a bunch of consecutive moves. Downsides: the animation isn't particularly great, and while some of the visuals appear to be inspired by TRON: Legacy's color palate, elsewhere it just looks like a Neon Golem threw up after drinking a couple gallons of DayGlo paint.
Still, kinda fun! It's definitely a challenge for your reflexes, at least the few levels available, though having played them a couple times each (maybe 15 minutes in total) I admit I don't have a major impulse to play them again. At least until some light cycles show up. TRON Run/r is available on Steam Early Access/r.
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Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.