Insomniac Games are well known for many classic games. Most of them are incredibly lighthearted and fun. Some are quite boring and duds, but we don’t have to talk about Overstrike. Where most open-world action games these days are pretty dark, gritty, and somewhat realistic, Insomniac introduces us to a city that is bright, colorful, and over the top. It just so happens to be over run with mutated monsters, hell bent on drinking more Of the energy drink that turned them into monsters anyway. Sunset Overdrive is quite a breath of fresh air on the Xbox One, there aren’t any of its kind that I can think of released within the console’s first year that comes close to the highly stylized world of Sunset City.
The game focuses on fun and comedy. You traverse the city by means of rail grinds, wall runs, and air dashes. You could just run on the ground but you’ll be left slow and vulnerable. You need to get out there, grind from rail to rail and build up a combo meter. It’s strange how much the traversal feel so much like a Tony Hawk Pro Skater game. There are no tricks to keep your fingers busy with, what is required of you is to press a button to land on each rail, press a button to dash for more speed, press a button to jump off the rail, then press a button to grind another rail or wall. Your hand is constantly busy trying to keep up speed by hitting all your marks as you make your way from mission to mission. To use Tony Hawk as a reference again, it’s almost like having to revert, into a manual, into a grind, into a manual, into a jump, wall ride, manual, hit a half pipe, and revert. If you don’t have a plan of attack on all these rails and buildings Insomniac has placed throughout the city, you can get easily overwhelmed and find yourself missing a landing point and right back on street level.
With all that said, it’s amazingly fun to roam around the city like this. All enemy encounters and boss encounters require you to be just as mobile while firing a plethora of wacky and over the top guns. The weapon style reminds me a lot of the Dead Rising games where you’d have combination of things to create a strange weapon, something like a teddy bear grenade. In Sunset Overdrive you’ll find things like firework guns, a vinyl record launcher, a plush kitty cat grenade launcher, and toy helicopter turret. These are just some of the strange yet fun weapons given to you throughout the game.
The game’s structure is what you’d expect from an open world game, do the story missions, gather collectibles, find hidden items, do secondary or side quests, and so on. Everything is fun except I had little to no fun doing the base defense missions. The object is to protect a machine at your base from waves of “OD”, the monster like enemies in the game, while it creates new power ups for you to use. You have to place traps around the base to help fight off the enemies but you have a limit of energy to spend and each trap costs a different amount. Once going you need to grind the rails and kill to protect the machine. There’s a little strategy involved but it was more stressful than fun and one of only a few times I had to actually restart after failing.
Speaking of the bad things, this game takes a very long time to get going. If you talk to someone who has played the game you’ll usually get the same answer, stick with it for about 3-4 hours, then it gets really good. The game’s writing made me roll my eyes a lot in those first few hours. 4th wall breaking moments that were not too funny and with all the tutorial stuff that’s needed to get out of the way it just felt like a drag. There were times I had to put down the controller and do something else because I just couldn’t get myself to keep playing. But after that 3-4 hours the game kicks in and it’s a blast. The wacky characters you meet and the writing as the game goes along though is far more enjoyable.
There’s a multiplayer component to the game and I found it’s not really as enjoyable as the main game itself, although if you were to get a team of some of your friends, that may change. As a team you and other players complete activities to rack up a score then fight off waves of OD similar to the base defense with traps and all. It’s an ok mode but I would rather just keep playing in single player.
Sunset Overdrive stands out in a sea of grey and brown. It’s fun to play and not only is it colorful, it’s stretches out its comedy legs to keep you entertained. There is a lot here to love even if it takes forever for the game to really get going.
An Xbox One code was provided by Xbox PR for review purposes