So here it is, the one and only game CD-i owners dare to brag about. According to many, it is the one and only reason to even own the system. Is it really that good? Nope, but it's a nice play nonetheless, which can't be said for too many CD-i titles.
The story of Burn: Cycle, though it doesn't feel totally original, is somehow intriguing. You play Sol Cutter who is a data thief that has been infected with a deadly virus in his head. He only has two hours to get rid of the virus or else it will destroy him.
Before you go to play Burn: Cycle you must realize that the visuals haven't aged well - especially when compared to the latest Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 (or even PS One or Saturn) game, this one looks very shallow. But at the time of release, at the beginning of the CD-ROM era, Burn: Cycle actual was quite impressive. The game was original released for CD-i, but a PC and Mac version followed suit.
Burn: Cycle is like an interactive movie/cyberpunk adventure with playable parts in between the motion videos in which the player has to solve small puzzles, do some shooting, or figure out where to go and what objects to acquire. There are two aspects in which this CD-i landmark title stands out in comparison to a lot of other first generation CD games. First off, the atmosphere created in the game is really good. The music (that is also included on a separate audio CD) is suitable and the dark, but enigmatic surroundings recall other excellent cyberpunk thrillers (like Sega CD's Snatcher and Rise of the Dragon). Secondly, another aspect that contributes to the outstanding ambiance is the acting of the characters. It is really good, no matter how ridiculous some of them look, especially compared to a lot of other games based on full-motion video.
I won't say Burn:Cyle is perfect. The game can be annoying as hell. You have to complete it in two hours. Running out of time makes you start right from the scratch, which can be extremely frustrating when you've put all that work in. Luckily the game can be saved anywhere. In some of the mini-games it was totally unclear what I was supposed to do, but I managed to win a few of them by just randomly clicking. The parts in which you have to shoot meteorites also worked my very last nerve since it's difficult to hit them. If you die in a mini-game, it's game over for you. If you have saved just before it, you can't click the cut-scenes though, so be prepared to see some of them quite a few times. We're lucky the acting has been done as well as it has, especially when a nice girl with a big gun shows up (Gala) in Cutter's world (she's sure a lot nicer than Cutters girlfriend - she's a sort of goofy girl who's shot at the beginning of the game but by no means really death). They are some nice gory cut-scenes as well, with blood flying around when you shoot a bad guy.
The atmosphere easily makes up for Burn: Cyle's shortcomings. It was one of the few CD-i games I actually enjoyed for more than 10 minutes and I genuinely wanted to finish it, mostly because of the intriguing storyline. If someone tells you this is the best CD-i game released, chances are huge he or she is right. I, at least, consider Burn: Cycle one of the highlights of early CD gaming and a worthy addition to the sci-fi genre, something I can never get enough of.