Burncycle promises to make an action-packed robot Oceans 11, but at times it seems like drudgery

Burncycle promises to make an action-packed robot Oceans 11, but at times it seems like drudgery ...

The clicking actuators of your robotic team of intrusion fighters dissipate the quiet hum of servers and sentry drones. You will avoid detection and break into rooms seeking access to the company's secure operations in order to close them down.

This is Chip Theory Games' latest release, which is well-known for their sophisticated designs and chunky components that include signature plastic chips and miles of neoprene mats. Its a fully cooperative game that has up to four players working together in a complex, stealth-based tactical game.

Polygon had the chance to test the game ahead of this years Gen Con in Indianapolis, and like Chip Theory's previous title, Cloudspire, we found a complex game with a great deal of content. The most challenging tasks will take you through one to three floors, each one comparable to a small dungeon in breadth.

The ruleset will take several plays and a lot of devotion. Players perform actions which are restrained by the eponymous burncycle. Each chip enhances a particular action type, such as terminal or move. This approach heavily influences the tactical strategy you develop each round, as well as how you deal with obstacles on your current floor of the building you're attempting to infiltrate.

As you enter locked doors, interact with the board, and sometimes dismantle an enemy sentry, dice are rolled to perform each of these burncycle actions. Enemies have their own activation phase and priority system, depending on who has recently entered the building.

Were you ready? A whole separate minigame revolving around your teams heist. You will move your characters pings across a webbed network, avoiding detection by the AI opponent as you balance your priorities between the physical and virtual playspace. Another system that influences the environmental response is the command module robot, which is shared by players, and personal goals called imperatives.

It's simply too much, and it can feel more procedure and workmanlike than entertaining or dramatic. I'd liken large swathes of play to the emotional resonance of actually writing software or doing database administration, which is difficult to reconcile with the promise of a robot Oceans 11. Too much time is spent waiting in rooms to avoid patrolling sentries or futzing with side-distractions as opposed to actual, meaningful progress.

Despite the fact that there is a deep and rewarding puzzle at the core of it all, deciphering this mystery is a highly enjoyable cognitive experience that provides great satisfaction when you leave the game. It is also surprisingly modular, offering a huge amount of new content such as new bots, corporations, and scenarios to help you diversify your game. The core game is massive in its own right, but the publisher has shown dedication through ongoing support.

Burncycle is a unique and rich tabletop experience that requires a lot of effort from its participants. Its a very appealing product with striking visuals and a classy table presence, this time on Gamefound, where the boxed game and all of its expansions are available for pre-order. Delivery is expected by March 2023.

  • $150

Prices were calculated at the time of publication.

1-4 players, aged 13+

Playtime: 60-240 minutes

Strategy board game, according to the game type

Cooperative, dungeon crawler: Category

Assassins Creed: Brotherhood of Venice, Cloudspire are two games that have similar themes.