Insomniac has a knack for creating games with unique plots, explosive weapons, and a cast of characters that have as much quirk as snark. Sunset Overdrive is no exception and offers all of those aspects in spades. After putting hundreds of hours into its Ratchet and Clank series, I was extremely thrilled to see this game pop up on “Free With Gold” and very eager to jump into this colorful title. The game trailer released for this Xbox exclusive didn’t really shed much light on what the game was about other than shooting zombies that seemed to sploosh with orange juice so I was very amped to learn more.
The game is set in modern times around 2027 in the city of Sunset City. The story begins with a company called “Fizzco” rushing a new energy drink through the FDA without government testing that inadvertently begins turning the populace into seething orange zombie-like masses. This begins in the form of a cutscene while you are working at a rave taking out the trash and as the party goes on, you find yourself surrounded in OD (overcharge drinkers) upon which chaos shortly ensues.
The controls of the game are a mix between free-roaming action games like Prototype or Infamous with some of the movement and grinding aspects eerily reminiscent of Ratchet and Clank. The style of the game is very rock and roll/punk focused adorned with almost Guitar Hero-esque graphics and options for customization. the character customization is fairly diverse. I was quickly able to make a character and modify his clothing to look somewhat similar to me. Options also included the outright strange such as a pharaoh mask/helmet, a giant Halloween pumpkin outfit, among kilts, football pads, angel wings and more. In this regard, it reminded me of Tony Hawk’s Underground which is no surprise given there seems to be a sponsorship by Vans shoes.
After brief moments of customization, you set out to begin meeting other survivors and attempting to coordinate an escape from the OD-infested city. You quickly find that adequate use of the environment is imperative to avoid the hordes of OD swarming through the streets. Grinding on telephone wires and bouncing off cars to catapult yourself above the street level are your ways of getting around but also essential elements of survival in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed. This proved to be somewhat challenging to get accustomed to for me initially but I was able to make the movements a little more fluid as I gained experience with the controls.
The weapons are in standard Insomniac fashion. They are simply quirky and destructive. Between a shotgun that shoots orange fire inducing soda, to a vinyl record launcher that causes records to ricochet between your foes causing massive damage to groups, each weapon offers something fun to take to combat and cause some mayhem. In the short period of time I played, my favorite quickly became the TNTeddy which not only has a hilarious name but also launches exploding teddy bears.
The game provided some intense moments with very suiting rock soundtracks backing the attitude the game so readily implores. It has a sarcastic and fun approach to your standard apocalyptic zombie survival game. Protecting my soda vats against waves of enemies was particularly intense, especially when the hulking Herker decided to make an appearance. You get a sense of accomplishment beating these missions and the characters in the world add humor to these moments to present the player with a variety of different emotions and reactions all at once that all translate to fun. This game is simply put fun in just about every aspect. I had a sense of childlike glee playing this game that I have not felt in a modern title in a very long time.
The game uses humor to tell a compelling and unique story in true Insomniac fashion. The missions are interesting and involving. It makes the game hard to put down and only out of fear of boring my wife to shreds was I able to pull myself from playing it all night. One of the missions you steal a train to escape a horde of OD and make a new friend in the form of a socially awkward but loveable college nerd who worships you as a superhero. This creates a lasting impact with what you do and provides memorable experiences that I feel are worth the meager $29.99 price tag the game usually goes for on the Xbox live store.
If you were lucky enough to pick this up for free with your Xbox Live gold subscription and you are a fan of Insomniac’s previous titles, this game is a complete no-brainer. If you missed out and haven’t heard of this game before, I still highly recommend picking it up even at its current price. Sunset Overdrive delivers a lot in a small package with memorable gameplay, environments, characters, weapons, and visuals.
Featured image courtesy of Xbox.com