Sunset Overdrive is an open world, third-person shooter video game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Microsoft Studios exclusively for the Xbox One. Set in the fictional open world Sunset City in 2027, players control a fully customizable FizzCo employee who fights the OD, humans transformed into monsters after consuming an energy drink. Player’s wall-run, use zip-lines and grind rails to swiftly navigate Sunset City, and have a large weapon arsenal to use in action.
Insomniac have compared the game’s humour to that of Spyro and Ratchet & Clank and that the game returns to Insomniac’s “roots” and draws influence from Sega games like Crazy Taxi and Jet Set Radio.
Is Sunset Overdrive the Xbox One exclusive that we’ve all been waiting for? Is it the game that makes getting the console essential just so you can experience it for yourself? Let’s find out.
The player character, whose gender, skin tone and body type can be customized, is a FizzCo employee, tasked with cleaning up the mess left behind from a party FizzCo has thrown in celebration of the launch of their new energy drink, Overcharge Delirium XT. Players fight the OD’d humans who have mutated from drinking too much of the energy drink.
Players can carry up to eight weapons at once, including the standard assault rifle AK-Fuckyouup, and the TNTeddy grenade launcher that fires teddy bears strapped to sticks of dynamite. All weapons eventually run out of ammunition, but do not need to be reloaded while being used. Players unlock more weapons by progressing through the story or purchasing them from shops. Weapons can be upgraded by applying “Amps” that increase their lethality. The Style Meter increases as players perform stylish moves like killing enemies and grinding on-rails without touching the ground. Also, there is an 8 person online co-op mode called chaos squad.
Once you make it through the initial tutorial you are able to fully customize your character and I found it to be one of my favourite character customization systems ever, in fact I struggle to think of a better one. As you progress through the game you unlock more and more clothing items which contain a huge variety of options that are so good and well-designed that I struggled to choose what to wear. Being able to create my own unique protagonist really helped in making the experience feel more personal to me and it’s helped greatly by how well designed the character models are. Another thing that I have to praise is the way in which your character is seamlessly integrated into all cut scenes no matter how they look or what they’re wearing.
You have the option of choosing between a male or female character and I made my choice after doing a little bit of research beforehand and finding that a common criticism amongst people was how annoying the male protagonist can be. Having now heard all of the dialogue in the game and knowing how the voice for the male character sounds, I can only imagine how irritating it would be. Also, in all honesty I much preferred watching a female character jump around but the choice is yours. Check her out –
It’s visually where Sunset Overdrive really excels though. The game is absolutely beautiful and contains some of the most vibrant colours I’ve seen in any video game outside of Nintendo. Insomniac deserves to be praised for creating a bright, unique world with a wonderful art style; it’s a feast for the eyes that’s for sure.
The way the game handles can be quite tough to get to grips with in the beginning because there is just so much going on and the game requires you to be constantly on the move. Attempting to grind along power lines only to suddenly have to wall run and then jump to nearby objects while shooting a weapon can be quite a lot to contend with; it’s a serious work out for the fingers.
However, this is a fine example of just how rewarding an experience the game can be. Not too long after I was struggling to get the hang of the controls, I found myself seamlessly traversing the games various environments with ease which is extremely satisfying to achieve and witness. This is all helped to great effect by Sunset Overdrives smooth controls that react exactly how you want them to, it makes it all look and feel effortless. By the end of the game you’ll be able to go from one end of the map to the other without touching the ground once, getting the “The floor is lava” achievement won’t be a problem.
As I mentioned above, the world is huge and has a variety of different, interesting locations that usually relate to the factions that exist in the area. Along your journey you’ll encounter these various factions and do quests to gain their trust in hopes that they’ll band together and help you take down FizzCo.
There are a number of different collectible items placed around the world and you’ll find yourself straying from doing quests to get them just because it’s so fun to explore the environment. Thankfully, Insomniac did include buyable maps that reveal their locations. Also, the collectibles are necessary if you want to buy better amps so it’s good that there is a point to getting them.
Story wise Sunset Overdrive introduces you to a number of factions, including a group that are obsessed with live action role play and it leads to some very entertaining moments. You do quests that benefit whichever faction you’re with at the time, like many open world games you’ll find yourself going from point A to point B. Each quest felt fresh and introduced me to something new and exciting which helped in reigniting my interest in what was going on. Ultimately though, the story probably could have better considering what they had to work with. It never felt like the story involving FizzCo turning everyone into OD was very impactful and that’s probably down to the fact that the game itself doesn’t take it very seriously but I can imagine that’s what they intended.
During your time in Sunset city you’ll fight many different enemy types that range from small OD to huge Gunkers, to Fizzbots and many others. Its impressive how many enemies are able to fluidly appear on screen at a single time, it feels and looks very next gen.
Considering there are an abundance of enemies around you’ll need a decent amount of weapons which is another element that Sunset Overdrive nails. There is an array of uniquely designed weapons that individually level up as you use them, each coming with their own specific advantage when going into battle; the combat is very chaotic yet highly satisfying. My personal favourite weapons are the Roman Candle Gun and TNTeddy grenade launcher.
Accompanying you during your time with the game is an awesome rock/punk rock soundtrack that fits really well with the style of the game. Overall, the voice acting is solid but the dialogue and humour can be hit and miss at times, although it did have me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. Sunset Overdrive constantly breaks the fourth wall and makes fun of video games in general and it’s very entertaining and amusing. There’s a quest in which you have to collect side quest icons from people who haven’t returned them to the person who gave them out, it’s very clever.
A minor complaint that I have is the fact that I played as a female protagonist and yet the dialogue seemed to be catered towards a male character, it made me wonder why they put in the effort of having a female voice actor etc. when they didn’t change the story or the ways in which characters interact with you.
I experienced a number of bugs during my time with the game but most of them were easily solvable by reloading the game.
Whether you’re swinging from a pole, grinding on power lines, bouncing off umbrellas or sliding across water it never gets boring, it’s addictive fun from beginning to end. A couple of my favourite moments in the game involved you fighting a huge Fizzie balloon, then there was an assault on a theme park that ends with you grinding around a roller-coaster track during a fight and a quest in which you forge a nuclear sword that can summon fire, lighting and fire tornados…It’s awesome!
Even the respawn animations are cool….
Sunset Overdrive nails what every video game should strive to be and that’s being an addictively fun and enjoyable experience. Is sunset overdrive the game that makes getting an Xbox One essential?, well obviously no because you should never buy a console for a single game but it’s still a very good reason to consider it and if you do own an Xbox One, this is a game that you must buy.