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Video Game / Burn:Cycle

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"It ain’t easy bein’ a two-bit thug in an eight-bit town."

A 1994 first-person Cyberpunk Adventure Game which incorporates puzzles and full motion video, similar to that of The 7th Guest. Regarded by retro gamers as a Cult Classic and one of the best games on the Philips CD-i.

You play Sol Cutter, a small-time thief who ferries stolen data inside of his brain (à la Johnny Mnemonic). While he's robbing Softech Industries, a deadly Computer Virus known as Burn:Cycle is downloaded into Sol's mind. It's dormant now, but if Sol doesn't get that virus out of his head within two hours, his brain is yogurt. This countdown occurs in real time, essentially boiling down the game to one big Timed Mission, but there are enough save opportunities to see gamers through.

Despite having decent graphics for the time and comparably-good acting, Burn:Cycle is infamous for both its kitschy aesthetic and nutty (yet oddly straight-faced) storyline. Sol's hard-boiled narration riffs on Blade Runner, and the colorful characters he meets along the way are arguably the game's biggest strength.

Burn:Cycle contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Robots: ASCII is either a hive-mind collective of data miners, an AI, or something in between, and nobody knows which.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Doc. He's also an ex-employee of SofTech, having developed the brain-uploading tech Vielli used in the first place.
  • Camera Abuse: Dealey shoots out the camera after delivering his final ultimatum to Sol.
  • Casual Kink: When Gala and Sol arrive at his old hotel room, she peeks into the minibar to look for drinks. Instead, she finds a chainmail harness. Sol's nonchalant response is priceless.
    "Don't touch those! I get charged for what I use."
  • Coolest Club Ever: Sum Zero.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Dealey.
  • The Cracker: Sol himself.
  • Credit Chip: Sol's credit card, which can be loaded with credits from the First Karmic Bank of Consciousness Credit. The card even has a fingerprint scanner that lets you view its balance at will.
  • Cyberpunk Is Techno: All throughout the game, from frantic dance tracks in the Sum Zero bar, to new-age electronic themes in the Televerse.
  • Cyberspace: Referred to as the "Televerse".
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Sol Cutter.
  • Diegetic Interface: Most of Cutter's HUD comes from a set of camera goggles he uses. Averted with the inventory and save screen, though.
  • Easy Listening: The obnoxious hotel theme.
  • Enemy Without: While exploring the depths of his mind, Sol is confronted by a personification of his own rage.
  • Evil Laugh: Dealey's distinctive snicker. "Eheh heh heh heh!" This forms part of a puzzle later on
  • Faking the Dead: Vielli is believed to be dead in the live world. Actually, he uploaded his consciousness into the Televerse.
  • Fantastic Drug: Zip loves to trip out on electronic "rushes" - basically, using the cybernetics in his brain to pump out pleasure and excitement endorphins, akin to the rush one might get from extreme sports. It's gotten so bad that even if you're right next to him in the physical world, you have to talk to him in the Televerse to get his attention.
  • First Law of Gender Bending: Sol Cutter's original body is pretty much unusable now, so he's stuck with the good-looking, athletic body. Cutter's initial objections to the body aren't that it's female, but that it's one Vielli admits is built for "speed and pleasure."
  • The Future: Circa 2043.
  • Flying Car: How you get to various locations in the game.
  • Freudian Trio: The three pieces of Sol's personality code.
    • Id: His Rage
    • Ego: Virtual Kris
    • Superego: The gold buddha
  • Gender Bender: Under duress, Sol agrees to be downloaded into one of Vielli's spare bodies: a "pleasure model". Ick.
  • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang: Puerto-Rican pharmaceutical smugglers.
  • Gunpoint Banter: "When God was crapping stupidity, he dropped a shitload on you!"
  • Hellbent For Leather: After Sol's brain gets transferred into a woman, he wakes up in a spandex outfit with a navel-baring window.
  • History Repeats: Sol and Dealey find themselves in a pistol standoff twice during the game — once in a flashback, and again at the end of the game.
  • Immortality Immorality: Vielli's aim is to preserve the minds of Earth's greatest thinkers by uploading their brains into the televerse, whereupon they can Body Surf between artificial bodies in perpetuity. Softech seeks to sell his technology to the highest bidder.
  • In-Game TV: Sum Zero has these, which also double as a public Televerse interface.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: Sol remarks on this after gaining entry to his hotel room.
  • It Was with You All Along: See "Master of Disguise".
  • Joke Item: A porno mag. (Wet When Slippery)
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: One location in the Televerse, labeled "Nirvana", contains a surreal mock-up of Sol's own memories, showing people from his past, including some that never appear in the game proper.
  • Kavorka Man: Sol is an average-looking bloke with a thinning hairline. Judging by the contents of his hotel room, though, he's been busy. Gala also comments on his "cute ass".
  • Knowledge Broker: An AI (probably) called ASCII buys and sells information. Cutter asks for an "open line of credit" early on but since he hasn't gotten to the bottom of the mystery yet, halfway through ASCII cuts him off and withdraws support.
  • Kiss of Death: Gala plants one on Sol before holding him at gunpoint.
  • Large-Ham Announcer: The Psychic Roulette announcer is this.
  • Logic Bomb: The "Burn:Cycle" virus acts as one of these to a human brain.
  • Losing Your Head: Sol's last task is to smuggle away Vielli's severed head, which contains the information Softech is seeking. He fails. But that was Vielli's plan all along
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Sol makes an off-hand comment about having "a different face" when he crossed paths with Gala previously.
  • Man, I Feel Like a Woman: Sol adjusts to his new body briskly; he's already thinking along those lines in the epilogue.
  • Master of Disguise: As a Televerse construct, Vielli can morph into any form he wishes, including Virtual Kris. He does so at one point to make a rhetorical point to Cutter.
  • Mexican Standoff: Sol and Dealey.
  • Mutilation Interrogation: Inverted with Dealey, who threatens to keep chopping away at Sol's (unconscious) body until Sol returns to his body with what Dealey wants. Sol gets around this impediment by switching bodies altogether.
  • Neck Lift: "Sol's Rage" throttles Sol while rattling off his past failures.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Subverted in a bit of Sol's commentary about NAMO and Gala: Whenever an undercover agent is found within NAMO, they give him a pistol and an hour's lead to run away. Once it's elapsed, a cadre of ladies with short-bladed knives are sent out after him. According to Sol, not one of those agents lasted longer than a few hours afterwards.
  • Night-Vision Goggles: The hotel level.
  • No New Fashions in the Future: Epitomized by the characters' clothes and hair styles, which more resemble late-80s punk fashions.
  • Now, Where Was I Going Again?: Sol will describe his next objective when the player accesses the menu.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Averted with the New Age Movement.
  • Playful Hacker: Zip, who also deals in contraband to help you.
  • Raster Vision: People shown on monitors or as holograms appear heavily interlaced.
  • Replay Mode: The "Recap" button in the main menu shows the most recent cutscene.
  • Robo Speak: ASCII talk this way. Possibly because it's AI. Maybe. Nobody's sure.
  • Safe Cracking: Comes into play with Sol's hidden stash in his hotel room. And it's timed.
  • Show Some Leg: Sol arranges for Gala to use this trick on a guard patrolling outside his hotel.
  • Slow Doors: Averted in the prologue; Sol doesn't make it, and Kris is shot dead on the helipad.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The gold Buddha abruptly mutters "It's a bitch." if you pick the wrong leaf and die.
  • Split-Personality Merge: Sol's construct form has holes in his body upon arriving, which Doc explains are bits of Sol's personality scattered around the Televerse. He then has to hunt down these fragments and retrieve them to patch these holes.
  • Tap on the Head: One karate chop from Gala is enough to lay a mook flat.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: "Those who rush, and those who don't."
  • Threshold Guardians: The gold Buddha.
  • Time Bomb: The Burn:Cycle virus that Sol's cybernetics are infected with has essentially turned his brain into one, unless he can find a way to neutralize the virus.
    • You begin the game carrying a small Russian bomb with an adjustable timer. You have to use it to blast open a gate to escape the starting area.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: The scattered flashbacks to Sol's days as a corporate "adjuster".