Before I begin, I was sent a prototype of the game, and may receive a production copy of the game in exchange for an honest preview. This is not a paid preview. If you would rather see a video of this preview you have two options below. Pledge for your own copy here.
Chip Theory Games understands what gamers really want. They want a game that can be used for multiple things. In fact I will not even consider playing one of their games any more if I cannot use it as a game, a door stop, a pool toy, and the perfect thing to set up if I every have to defend my home, Home Alone style.
Luckily when the prototype for burncycle arrived I immediately thought…”Well that has some heft to it”, then I opened it and said out loud “that is an intimidating amount of stuff isn’t it.” So having passed my initial test I was very happy to dive into the latest big box game from CTG, and see what it was all about. After all, Too Many Bones is one of my top games in my collection…I just do not put it on top of anything-that is both dangerous and crazy.
burncycle is a game set in the far future…so far that humanity has already wiped itself out, and robots fixed the planet, then brought humans back…who promptly took over again. Now you are playing as the Robo Resistance who are trying to gum up the works in the four Global Mega Corporations.
To do this you will be sneaking into their headquarters and trying to make your way to the top floor to confront Bezo…the evil CEO in charge of the corporation of your choice, be it the social media, the fulfillment, the defense, or the energy. In order to do this you will be utilizing a series of three different commands, which will change every so often.
There are three different categories of command you can issue: physical, utility, or tech; these will allow you to do pretty much everything that you need to do. However, each round you will create your burncycle (program), and the closer you are able to follow it the more powerful your abilities will be.
You will spend your time running about the board and tempting the guards to follow you around, thus allowing your conspirators to accomplish whatever the task assigned you each game is. As you play you will be managing your bots power supply, which functions as your life, your dice pool, and your ability to upgrade your bots, and your burncycle as you play.
In addition to the main board you also have the ability to log on to the net, which is its own little mini game where you are attempting to boost your signal strength and eliminate the “pings” being sent to boot you from the net by Zuckerber…the evil CEO.
After you manage to accomplish your goal for the floor you are able to make your way to the elevator, and move to the next floor.
So what do I think?
The component quality of the game is pretty darn good for a prototype, and based on the quality of every othere CTG game, I am confident it will both feel outstanding, and look great as well.
The core of the game is the creation and management of the burncycle, and this is simply a delightful thing. What makes it really work for me is that you are not locked into the program, rather you are just encouraged to use the program as it is set, because everything you do is simply that much more powerful, but if you find yourself in a bind there is always something that you can do. I think this is a very good variant on the traditional programmer games.
I also really enjoy the way that you have a bit of resource management in the game as well. Because your power functions as so many things you are always playing that balance of how do you spend it. Do you spend it now and have fewer, but more potent dice? Do you spend it and improve your burncycle, but again have less life and dice? Or do you just horde it like a greedy chipmunk until you have mediocre dice squirting out of your cheeks? The choices are very hard, and delightful.
I also really enjoy the network mini game. It is SOOOO simple, but the strategy involved in when you go onto it, and how you manage your IP addresses is just delightful. It also has the added bonus of keeping you from feeling like you do not have anything to do, because you can almost always attempt to log on there.
The art. It has a distinct style, but I really need to see more before I know how I feel about it.
I also regularly found myself, having to remind myself that this is a stealth game, not a combat game, just because I can fight doesn’t mean I should; assuming I did not want to kill myself. (YEAH that’s right three reflexive pronouns in one sentence! BOOM! Let’s ignore the other errors in it). However, the point is, that it can be very tempting to revert to old CTG habits and just try to smash everything…I ALMOST wish engaging enemies was not an option to save me from myself.
My largest concern with this game is the unknown. I have not gotten to try the final levels to see how the confrontations work, nor have I gotten to experience the game with a full complement of bots, or a large variety of floors. This leaves me with questions.
Will the game start to feel repetitive and solvable? Though you will want to differentiate the different bots through their skills, will that be a best practice, or will unlocking their abilities feel like you are just hamstringing yourself?
My other warning I issue, is that even though the resource management of your power if a delightful part of the game, I am concerned that if you manage it poorly at the beginning of the game you are simply setting yourself up for a frustrating failure.
Bringing it all together
burncycle is a stealth game that has reinvented the way I view Chip Theory Games. I had them pegged as being masters of dice chucking, find fun ways to smash the bad guys in the face. Yet here is a game that is a stealth, programmer game, with a solid dose of resource management. Bot only that, but it is absolutely intriguing. There are some outstanding questions remaining: how do the boss levels work? Will the game be solvable? Can you recover from poor early plays? And these questions will only be answered over time as the development of the game continues. Yet for me, this is a game that really looks to be one that can reach the upper echelons of the stealth AND programmer genres.
If we bots knew you would talk so much we would not have brought you back
* Unique feeling stealth/programmer game
* Simpler than the other CTG big box games by a significant amount
* Has a very cool aspect of resource management baked into the dice/upgrade system
* Could be solvable, and might be too punishing if you make poor leveling choices from the get go
* One of the more promising titles I have gotten to check out in recent months, I am very excited to see where it goes