Insomniac Games is one of the premier developers for PlayStation having created numerous critically acclaimed series like Marvel’s Spider-Man, Resistance, Spyro The Dragon, and Ratchet & Clank. All fantastic series for Sony consoles. But before Sony officially put a ring on Insomniac, the game developer created Sunset Overdrive in 2014 for the Xbox One. The exclusive game was published by Microsoft Studios and gave Xbox players a taste of the magic that Insomniac creates. Set in a post-apocalyptic world filled with F-bombs, and an amazing soundtrack, Sunset Overdrive gave the Xbox One an exclusive must-own game.
You play as a nameless character customized by you. This character is a janitor at a concert venue who rather predictably, hates their life. At this concert, a new energy drink is introduced to the crowd from mega-corporation FizzCo. This drink called “Overdrive” begins to mutate all drinkers into fleshy blobs who attack the city. Within 24 hours, the city is quarantined and the apocalypse is underway.
A few weeks later after hiding out in your apartment surviving off beer, the mutants break-in. You’re rescued by an old man named Walter who invites you to help him escape Sunset City. Together, you build a propeller glider hybrid craft. As you and Walter head toward the skyline, he notices birds being zapped by an invisible wall. He shoves you from the craft right before it the walls. Walter unfortunately is killed in the crash, leaving you back to square one.
The remainder of the game is spent doing quests and favors for different tribes around Sunset City. There are the super-rich lazy Millenials who live off their parents’ wealth. A boy-scout-like troop who are samurai. A bunch of nerds who are real-life role-players, and a bunch of Latina undead face-painted girls who nurse children back to health. The player continues to work with these tribes to achieve his dream of leaving Sunset City. They discover that they can use a trash boat that leaves the city to sneak out. With the boat filled with trash, Fizzco doesn’t see it as a threat. The player escapes but as he is leaving toward the sea, receives a phone call from his friends who are being attacked by Fizzco. He decides to turn around and help them out.
He rallies the tribes together and does a full assault on Fizzco Headquarters. As the tribes attack the headquarters, the player launches a huge bottle of Overdrive into the building. The building awakens and starts rampaging throughout the city. Yes, you read that correctly. After destroying the building that was controlled by the FizzCo mascot, the player reunites with all the tribes and parties the night away.
Sunset Overdrive is a mix of Infamous, Borderlands, and Doom. The humor is spot-on and it’s been one of the few games that have been released post-2010 to make me laugh. Everything from the characters and quests makes fun of real video game tropes. It’s all self-deprecating humor, and it’s perfect.
The outlay of the city reminded me of Infamous as you grinded along smooth surfaces and rails. You’ll climb up towering buildings or slide across parks as you complete your quests. During battles, the action never stops. In high-octane shootouts, you must always keep moving and in Sunset Overdrive that means bouncing. You are rewarded for your style of gameplay if you keep moving. If you run around and shoot enemies, you’ll likely be killed or attacked more. Sliding on rails or jumping on bouncy objects, you’ll earn bonuses when killing enemies. When you earn more style points you can use it on upgrading your character with perks called “amps”. These amps can do things like creating twisters when you melee or cause explosions when you bounce on the ground. The more you play, the more the game adapts to your style.
Weapons are a huge element of the game and it’s fun to purchase new ones. Everything in Sunset Overdrive is ridiculous and over-the-top including the respawn animations. Dying was fun when you would see different revivals. Weapons were just as cool as you found which ones worked best for you. You don’t have typical guns that shoot bullets. Instead, you’ll have roman candles or a teddy-bear bazooka. It all fits perfectly into the humorous theme of the game.
Perhaps, the best part of Sunset Overdrive is the amazing soundtrack. It’s all punk music. It reminds me of the 70s and 80s early punk bands and it fits perfectly into the game. Games today are forced to use stupid music in the soundtracks or trailers. Rap and pop oversaturate every game today, so to hear a game with punk roots sounded great. It’s the best soundtrack and humor in a game in possibly a decade.
Sunset Overdrive is fantastic, but I felt it was a little short. I beat the game in just a few days of briefly playing it. Boss fights were interesting and slightly challenging but I defeated each boss in one or two tries. The one thing I didn’t care for was the constant moving. If you aren’t jumping or grinding all over, you are susceptible to dying. I wish some battles slowed down so I could enjoy more of the moment. Everything felt like it was fast-forward.
I had heard of Sunset Overdrive throughout the years but never bothered playing it as I didn’t have an Xbox One until my brother-in-law bought it for my wife. I picked up Sunset Overdrive at a used video game store for $5. It was one of the games that flew under the radar, one that I always heard about but never knew of anyone playing it. I popped it in one weekend and loved every second of it.
Some games you can tell right away have the small details down. Sunset Overdrive is a game full of work done by people who love what they do. The soundtrack, humor, writing, and overall theme were tremendous. It’s a must-own for the Xbox One. Sunset Overdrive gives the Xbox one an exclusive that it desperately sought not named Halo. It’s too bad that it’s a brief game but when playing it, you’ll love it.
Sunset Overdrive scores a 9.2 out of 10.
What are your thoughts on Sunset Overdrive? How crazy did you customize your character? What did you think of the humor and what was your favorite weapon? Do you want to see a sequel? If you’d like to own a used copy of Sunset Overdrive for the Xbox One you can purchase a copy of it on eBay for $8.