From the Ratchet and Clank series to Resistance I have always loved what Insomniac has thrown our way. They are now pitching a whole new IP at us with Sunset Overdrive and this brand new IP is currently exclusive to the Xbox one.
Sunset Overdrive is an open world third-person shooter. It is set in a fictional metropolis called Sunset City (who would have guessed) which is under a zombie-mutant apocalyptic type siege.
I’m not the biggest fan of the genre or the overdone idea of a zombie like apocalypse. With Sunset Overdrive, it’s like they took both ideas and injected them with hallucinogenic steroids and then created this game.
That is one reason I have loved Insomniacs previous works. They manage not to take themselves so seriously and pull it off. Many games attempt to poke fun at themselves but they usually manage to miss the point. Sunset Overdrive seems to have the balance.
Insomniac have inserted their weird sense of humour everywhere in this game, from comic book style mini animations to respawning. You might get dropped off in an alien spaceship or dance your way out of an Egyptian sarcophagus. This game is purely for the fun of it.
The game allows you to create your own character and give them whatever whacky attire you deem suitable. After the all-important character customisation you head out to work.
You are a simple cleaner who hates your job and while collecting litter at a rave promoting FizzCo’s (the soon to be villainous company) new energy drink; Overcharge, things go terribly wrong.
The party guests, after drinking this new concoction, start turning into deranged bright orange mutant zombies triggering a citywide apocalypse.
FizzCo puts the city into lockdown to stop the rest of the world finding out their terrible mistake. You decide it’s your goal, after surviving, to escape this freak show of a city. On your way to try and reach this goal you meet and greet a whole entourage of strange and amusing characters.
In this apocalyptic city the survivors have created their own little factions and it turns out to be in your best interest to befriend and assist these cliques.
Some of these factions include a group of delusional LARPers who seem stuck in the dark ages and a troupe of kick ass scouts that have claimed a Japanese museum as their base.
Liaising with these factions will give you reason to explore new areas of the city and participate in an array of bizarre quests along with getting to know some of the more peculiar characters in the story.
You are free to get from place to place however you like. You are something of a parkour expert with the abilities to wall run (for like forever), grind on almost anything and bounce great heights from the tops of cars and numerous other landscape features.
The city is filled with debris, smash-able objects, collectables, chests and an almost unlimited amount of things to jump, wall run and grind on.
This freedom makes it distractingly fun to traverse this world. I found myself on many occasions just aimlessly using all these abilities in random directions for sheer joy of the process. The game definitely encourages you to take full advantage of these skills as getting on the ground can be bad for one’s health, literally.
The infestations of bright orange mutant zombie things or ODs are very much everywhere.
There are a few other bigger and more killer abominations around too, each with a unique look and killing style giving more reason to be quick on your feet. Even other humans, now turned Scabs, can be cause for concern when gallivanting about Sunset City. Marauding around on the ground is likely to get you killed by any combination of these adversities.
This said, dying doesn’t really seem to have any adverse effects. You’ll just pop up nearby in some whacky respawn animation. The only times dying was of some detriment to you was mid-missions where you might have to take down a certain amount of enemies or in a boss battle, where dying means the count of health bar resetting.
All the acrobatic antics are also a close part of the combat as you need to shoot and hit the enemy in the midst of it all.
While many third person shooter type games have you ducking to cover or strafing back and forth, this simply isn’t an option in Sunset Overdrive. Initially it took a small amount time to adjust to a much faster paced and busy combat scene but soon as you get the hang of it, it is fun to no end.
The weapons are funky and have a definite Ratchet and Clank flavour to them.
They are amusing to use and make taking down the weird and wonderful zombies of Sunset city all the more enjoyable and chaotic. Shooting out an explosive teddy bear, lighting up the enemy with a quick array of fireworks or laying down multiple toy shaped acid sprinklers is not only entertaining but the carnage left in its wake is a satisfying experience.
Apart from not dying, cavorting fashionably from wall to pole to rooftop offers other incentives.
Your character and the guns you collect can be improved by applying amps. Amps are varying in effect, from adding a fire burst to a gun to making your melee attacks shoot out mini tornadoes. Weapon amps are effective from the moment of application but character amps require your Style bar to increase before they become activated.
The game has numerous currencies, one for clothes, weapons and few different ones for purchasing amps. I was very happy with this system as it meant you didn’t have to sacrifice one to gain the other. While money and cans of overcharge are easily gained through quests and what not there are random bits and bobs that need to be collected for amp purchases.
These vary from stinky shoes to trashed toilet paper are strewn throughout the Levels meaning coming across them in random exploration is a guarantee.
I was very impressed with the side quests as they easily fit into the world and always seemed relevant and in some cases I thought they were the main story.
I loved that they fit so well within the main story it was easy to confuse the two. On the downside there were a few that seemed to repeat ideas but this didn’t subtract from the overall experience.
One more unique aspect of gameplay are mini horde mode type Levels. They come around every once in a while and can be replayed at any time.
Here you have to defend your base from hordes of the zombie-mutants while a friend of yours, Floyd, creates new amps for you. It has a bit of a tower defence aspect to it as you have traps available that you have to place strategically to assist in your defence. Playing the game unlocks and new bases where you have to implement new defensive strategy.
These sections gave a nice differentiation in gameplay as well as bonus amps.
Sunset Overdrive takes on a rather cartoony art style and reinforces this with some over the top comic book style animations in battle and cut scenes.
I found these to be comical and enjoyed the style for what it was. This game was never going for realism and rather than spending copious amounts of time and money on such a thing they went for making a great game instead. Sound also is well applied and makes the universe feel more interactive and delightful.
What is a sandbox game set in a zombie apocalypse city without some type of multiplayer?
The multiplayer takes you through numerous mission types. These may involve collecting dynamite, jumping to a blimp and placing it to bring it down before it finishes its course. Others may have you doing a certain amount of mini challenges or taking on a horde of enemies.
They are enjoyable and provide competition with other players to be the best at what ever task is handed to you.
Insomniac has yet again impressed me with its unique style and flare.
It has a slightly more adult version of that classic Ratchet and Clank humour running through it and many other ideas that seem to tap into their previous works but this game is still very much original.
It demands a different play style to most third person shooters and has a personality of its own. From addictive gameplay to crazy weapons Sunset Overdrive really offers a game that is wholly enjoyable and entertaining.