Burn Cycle (stylized as Burn:Cycle) is a 1994 surrealist cyberpunk point-and-click adventure video game for the CD-i that incorporates full motion video. The game's star, Sol Cutter, is a computer hacker and small-time data thief whose latest steal at the beginning of the game comes with a nasty sting. The Burn Cycle virus has been implanted in his head and has given him a two-hour realtime deadline to find a cure before his brain deteriorates completely. The player must guide Sol out of Softech and into the Televerse in order to find his cure. Various obstacles and games stand in his way, and there is the overarching realisation that Burn Cycle has been planted by someone with malicious intent. Finding this within the time limit completes the game.
CD-i cover art
|Publisher(s)||Philips Interactive Media|
|Platform(s)||CD-i, Mac OS, Windows|
The game was re-released for personal computers in 1995. In 1996 Philips Interactive Media announced that all of their CD-i games would be ported to the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation during the third quarter of 1996, starting with Burn Cycle. However, these ports were never released.
As an adventure puzzle game, the styles of skill tests in the game vary from rearranging wiring circuits to games of chance (such as Psychic Roulette) and games within games, as with the Pac-Man-styled final level. Outside these puzzles, Sol is moved around in point and click style within certain direction constraints. There is one instance where this is coupled with a shooting gallery in the first level, but generally gameplay events only happen when Sol is not travelling. Items such as timers and keys can be collected at various points either to directly affect the levels or to barter. Overall, the game is played within the 2-hour limit (as long as Sol can receive an extension from backyard trader Zip), but it can be saved and time is frozen if the game is paused.
Sol Cutter is a former corporate operative and current small-time data-thief in an unnamed metropolis who acts as a courier for stolen data using a surgically implanted data drive in his brain. As the game opens Cutter is on a job, breaking and entering a corporate office of SoftTech, his former employers, when a shock blasts him across the room. Cutter realizes his mind has been infected with a virus called Burn Cycle which will completely delete his brain, effectively killing him in two hours. With the help of his girlfriend Kris, who is guiding him from outside the complex, Cutter barely escapes, but Kris is shot in the back and killed.
Cutter makes his way to into the city and withdraws funds from a virtual bank (which doubles as a new age style church). Realizing that his hotel room is being watched, Cutter instead makes his way to the Zero Sum bar to deal with Zip, his friend and colleague who is strung out on "Rushing", or experiencing digitally augmented highs and adrenaline rushes. Cutter recruits Gala, a former acquaintance who Cutter recognizes from his time infiltrating a revolutionary movement where she was a member. Gala doesn't recognize him as he was undercover and his face had been surgically altered. With her help Cutter is able to get into his hotel room and get his belongings and other tools, along with a mysterious holo-sphere. With few options left and the Burn Cycle clock continuing to count down, Cutter makes his way to Doc, an underground brain surgeon for help. Gala tags along hoping to recruit Doc to her cause.
Once at Doc's place Cutter is examined. While Doc goes over the data, Cutter places the Holo-sphere into a scanner and unlocks a symbol of a dragon tattoos which sparks a flashback of Cutter's time as an operative. Cutter witnessed innocents being executed by his partner, the sadistic Deally, and this is revealed to be the reason why he left the company and became a thief, after realizing his bosses ordered the murder. Doc tells Cutter that his memories are being erased due to the biochemical digital virus inhabiting his brain and the only hope he has to live is to download his consciousness completely into the Televerse, the virtual world in which most of the planet does business. Once inside Cutter must seek Vielli, the CEO of Cortex, a rival multinational to SoftTech, who might have the cure. Cutter's mind is downloaded, but his code is fractured in the process.
Inside the Televerse, Cutter must track down the rogue pieces of his code, personified by a man, a strange golden Buddha and Kris. Once absorbing each piece back into himself he is finally able to enter Cortex where Vielli is waiting. Vielli explains that SoftTech were the ones who hired him to steal their own data, intending to infect him with the Burn Cycle virus knowing that he would have to seek out Vielli. Vielli, who is revealed to have died and exists solely as a program, has perfected the process for downloading consciousness into the Televerse, but also uploading it into any body, effectively inventing the code for immortality. Vielli helps Cutter to cure the Burn Cycle virus, but Deally appears at Doc's in the real world, killing both Doc and Gala and telling Cutter that he will kill Cutter's body, stranding him in the Televerse unless Cutter brings him the upload code.
Vielli instead uploads Cutter into a spare body (an attractive female) and charges him with smuggling Vielli's physical head, with the upload code out of the country. Cutter is ambushed at his hotel room by Deally with a team of agents. Deally reveals that he was the one who murdered Kris, prompting Cutter to kill him. He manages to shoot his way out and escape, but must leave Vielli's head behind.
Cutter is attempting to flee the country when Vielli contacts him and reveals that that his head didn't contain the upload code, but rather an augmented copy of the Burn Cycle, which wipes out SoftTech overnight. Vielli congratulates Cutter and gives him a number of bank accounts which can be accessed anywhere in the world, mentioning that he may approach Cutter again if he needs his services. Cutter in voice-over muses that he wonders what his new body will look like with a tan.
Development and promotionEdit
The game, written by Eitan Arrusi for TripMedia, London, features live action characters. Arrusi and Darius Fisher were the director and assistant director, respectively. The FMVs and in-game graphics were shot on blue-screen, as backgrounds are composed of 3D renders. The effect is that navigation through Burn:Cycle's environments cues a 3D walkthrough, while interaction with characters or the activation of scripted events prompts the loading of overlaid camera footage, sometimes even with complete scene changes.
The game's live action cast are credited as follows:
- Aaron Swartz as Cutter
- Viva Duce as Kris
- Abigail Canton as Gala
- Tanya Pohlkotte as Female Cutter
- Indra Sinha as the Golden Buddha
The 1995 re-release for personal computers was preceded by an early use of marketing a video game through the Internet. The official Burn Cycle website featured original content set in the game's world that was intended to serve as a precursor to the events depicted in the game. The site also featured various promotions and allowed visitors to sign up for an e-mail list that sent out hints for the game.
Burn Cycle features a largely techno soundtrack, composed and performed by the partnership of Simon Boswell and Chris Whitten. The game came packaged with a soundtrack CD that could be played on the CD-i or on any conventional CD player. Some of the songs on the soundtrack are remixed with dialogue from the game's voice actors.
|6.||"Into the Televerse"||7:08|
|10.||"A Beautiful Relationship"||4:21|
The CD-i version of Burn Cycle has been viewed as one of the most prominent titles on its system, with Electronic Gaming Monthly awarding it "Best CD-i Game of 1994" in their Buyer's Guide, and GamePro calling it "just what the CD-i needed". The magazines lauded the game's audio and cinematics. GamePro gave it a 5/5 score for three categories (graphics, sound, and fun factor), rating control at 4.5. 1UP.com, impressed by its futuristic setting and storyline, referred to Burn Cycle as "one of the best showcases of the console's strengths."
The PC release received a mixed response from critics. Allgame praised the variety of characters and locations, but stated that the game's graphics were "extremely crude looking and hurtful to the eyes". PC Gamer commented that "the blend of puzzles, arcade action, mysteries and cyberspace won't be too interesting"; the game's cyberpunk atmosphere and music were listed as positive aspects. In contrast, Game Revolution criticized the soundtrack for being "just bad industrial". The website nonetheless considered Burn Cycle "well-balanced" and its environments "carefully planned", giving the game an A- along with Entertainment Weekly.
Next Generation reviewed the CD-i version of the game, rating it three stars out of five, and stated that "Newcomers to gaming will be amazed at Burn:Cycle's beauty. Experienced arcade thrashers will wonder what the fuss is about."
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