Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Insomniac Games
Genre: Open World Action
Release Dates: November 16, 2018 (EU & NA)
Price: 19,99€ (Steam)
Sunset Overdrive is the type of video game that acknowledges the fact that it's a video game and goes full throttle with it, often breaking the fourth wall and referencing common video game practices for the sake of making jokes about them. The setting of the game is a fictional future of 2027 in a place called Sunset City, which is an island mainly controlled and governed by FizzCo, a major producer of beverages and energy drinks, now debuting their latest invention, OverCharge Delirium exclusively in Sunset City during a festival. As they bypassed health regulation protocols in order to get the drink out of the gates faster, the population of Sunset City becomes the lab rats on which they aim to test their newest invention, which goes terribly wrong the second the first can of Overcharge is opened, setting the scene for the zombie apocalypse where the zombies are made of soda and want more Overcharge instead of brains, and yet they will still try to kill you every chance they get. It's not the most unique apocalypse pretext and definitely the furthest from realistic, but it does open a unique apocalyptic scenario where it's more about having fun than it is about survival, which fits the design and humor of the game perfectly.
Your character does not have a name, as you can freely create any character you want and customize it however you see fit, but there are other characters populating the world of post apocalyptic Sunset City that you will come across as you progress through the story, each enjoying the apocalypse in their own way, which once again sets the tone of the game to comedy instead of tragedy, despite the fact that most people are now brainless Overcharge drinking zombies. Each of the unique characters that you will meet, apart from Floyd and Walter which are in charge of your base, will be a part of one of the factions having their way in the apocalypse, starting with the Oxfords, which are a group of spoiled university students, making them an ideal candidate for throwing jokes at their expense and continuing with even more unique groups of people such as the Fargarths, which are role playing a medieval RPG, refusing to use guns and technology in favor of swords, bows and castles. Other groups include the Troop Bushido, which are the post apocalyptic version of the boy-girl scouts and the Las Catrinas, a skeleton themed cheerleader squad with a spark of Harley Quinn.
If you are expecting the story to actually make sense you are definitely in the wrong place, because everything Sunset Overdrive has to offer is there to be fun and comedic, often throwing logical courses of action in favor of a more humorous take, but that is not downside, since that is exactly what this type of game should be, and throughout the approximately 15 hours that it takes to finish the main story, you will most likely be laughing at a joke or a situation every few minutes, because regardless of the situation or how you think a mission is going to end, the game doesn't want to set you up for the next mission or the next plot point, but instead wants to ensure you have a good time in each one and introduce you to the multitude of side activities you can take on afterwards. 9
Sunset Overdrive is the most fun I've had with an open world shooter in quite a while, because despite the weird premise for an apocalypse, Sunset City is fun place to be in and each new area will come with its own challenges and discoveries, making exploring each corner of it a joy.
Combine the world itself with the many traversal options and you've got free movement that never stops, as you can grind on cables and rails, jump on everything that will bounce you back including umbrellas, cars and fans and even dash through the air for faster traversal. Add all of those elements together and you have a fluid traversal mechanic that doesn't get old even dozens of hours in; using those mechanics the game creates challenges around them, whether by adding a timer to them or by adding enemies and obstructions in your way, but the greatest thing about it is that you never have to stop moving, as you can shoot while grinding, falling or even bouncing and the game encourages you to keep moving at all times.
This might seem hard to do at first as you'll have to reprogram your brain to discard everything you know about traditional shooters where cover and ground movement are the main mechanics and remember that the best tactical option in Sunset Overdrive is to never stay in one place for too long and always keep moving, aiming for the high ground when in danger. Once you get used to it however, Sunset City becomes your playground and with the aid of the many wacky weapons you can destroy any OD standing in your way, and with that being said, any difficulty level you might have noticed when you first started the game will be gone after a few missions, because by the time you fully get the hang of the controls you will be a few upgrades in where your abilities will be better and your weapons will deal more damage. On top of that there is no actual punishment for dying, as you will respawn a few seconds later, only a few steps away from where you died and with the mission progress still intact.
What makes Sunset Overdrive fun to play aside from the fluid movement are the weapons, which range from the more traditional weapons like the AK-FU assault rifle or the Dirty Harry magnum, to fully on wacky creations including a grenade launcher that shoots exploding teddy bears, the Turret Copter which basically spawns turrets as you shoot them or the One-Handed Dragon which is ideal for AOE damage. There are over 25 different weapons available and each one can be upgraded all the way to level 5, as well as improved using amps. While on the subject of amps, those are not exclusive to your weapons, as some amps can improve your abilities or give you new ones like shooting electricity around you every time you use a melee attack; however not even amps are safe from the game's parody of everything in existence and things like the Screw The Fourth Wall amp exist there just for comedic purposes.
The main missions are a great introduction to the mechanics of the game, but since there is always something that will catch your eye on your way to the next objective, you will probably take a lot of detours doing side quests, collecting all the resources, tagging all the billboards and basically having a good time in the apocalypse, which is what this game is about. Aside from those you have various challenges including traversal challenges, point collection, bomb deliveries and many more, with a special mention to the Buck National vs The Apocalypse challenges series where you take to take on multiple waves of enemies with different objectives, trying to score higher combos and shoot for the top of the leaderboards. 9
Sunset Overdrive is a very colorful game, as the colors pop at you in the same way a Nintendo designed game would, there is just so much going on around you at all times and the art style makes the world come to life. It is a really suiting art style in the most honest way possible, as the wacky tone and comedic bits go hand in hand with the graphics and compared to something like Empire City from the inFamous city where traversal was done in a similar way and everything had a dark tone to reflect the damage and devastation, here everything is colorful to reflect the fun times you're going to have in your own apocalypse, making the whole city feel alive even in the scenario of an apocalypse.
The character animations while not perfect, notably having weird facial animations and lip sync issues on side characters, do the job well enough considering the short cutscenes aren't that important to the overall experience. There are however quite a few visual glitches that I have encountered, including terrain not loading properly, textures overlapping and enemies getting into the frame during a dialogue ruining the whole thing. 8.5
The player voice is on point for both male and female characters and the dialogue is right up there next to Borderlands when it comes to humor and jokes, adding on that with the fourth wall breaking and jokes about video games and game mechanics to a point where it even makes fun of its own game mechanics. The side characters are not as well thought out as some of the main ones, but they do fit the world nicely regardless and no matter who you will talk to in the game, the wacky tone of the dialogue will be the same. One small annoying thing when it comes to dialogue is the repetition of your next objective by some NPCs, I swear I've heard some lines at least a dozen times while I was offtrack doing side activities, while the NPC kept reminding me about the main quest every few minutes or so. The soundtrack fits the tone of the game nicely and the audio effects are what you would expect from a studio on the level of Insomniac Games, with a special mention to the many weapon effects. 8.5
You can complete the main story in around 15 hours, but there are many more things to do on the side, from challenges to side quests and collectibles, Sunset City is your playground for all the wacky things you want to try out. The PC version also includes all the DLC previously released for the Xbox One, and while neither of them are large, they do provide a few extra hours of playtime and since they are smartly integrated into the world you could be playing the DLC without even realizing it. Collectibles also unlock additional amps and items, so collecting them all will only expand your inventory of chaos unleashing weapons. 9.5
If you passed on Sunset Overdrive due to the Xbox One exclusivity when it launched, now is the perfect time to pick it up for a low price and start your own awesome apocalypse in Sunset City. If you like video games with a healthy dose of humor and fun gameplay, Sunset Overdrive is all that and much more, with only a few minor setbacks that stopped it from becoming a mainstream phenomenon. 8.9