Have you ever wondered what would happen if ‘The Urbz’, ‘Jet Set Radio’ and ‘Lollipop Chainsaw’ had a baby (Biology is not my strong point) and that baby was addicted to pop punk music? Well allow me to introduce you to that very weird and utterly delightful baby, ‘Sunset Overdrive’.
Sunset Overdrive catapults you, literally, into the action straight from the start. You take on the role of a Sunset City survivor, a metropolis that’s facing it’s own pepped up a-pop-calypse after a brand new energy drink, Overdrive, causes lethal mutations in consumers. Those who drink the toxic beverage are mutated into OD, thirsty for more of the orange liquid who now spend their time marauding through the city streets beating down on the survivors but the nightmare doesn’t end there, the company responsible, FIZZCO have sealed the city off to prevent a PR and financial disaster making your escape next to impossible.
That’s okay though because you’re here to have fun and help people…but mostly have fun!
To survive the city and find a way out of the nightmare (one that your character seems to thoroughly enjoy fyi) you’ll need to enlist the help of some cautious survivalists, pretentious nerds, Mexcican ninja-cheerleaders and some traumatized LARPers. The game is a hybrid of genres, while at it’s core it’s an open-world third person shooter, it draws on influences from other genres like platform adventures, rpgs and hack’n’slash; you’ll dive, jump, bounce and grind wires, railings and cars all to stay up in the air as long as possible, earn experience for weapons, unlock new augmentations and you’ll do so by blasting and smashing your way through hordes of mutants, scavengers and robots. Gameplay is a tad repetitive, you’ll go to a location, meet person A do a favor for them, unlock several side quests, all which afford you with some rewards and new gear to dress up/down your character. So with the same style of missions facing you with each location, things could get stale pretty fast and it’s obvious developers Insomniac Games were aware of that so they’ve done everything possible to stop boredom itching it’s way into the game.
As you progress you’ll find that the same old tricks of wire grinding while bombarding ODs from above won’t work as well because suddenly FIZZCO bots show up to take both you and the infestation down, you’ll be forced to react faster, swap weapons to suit both enemies and even retreat if things get too sticky. Couple that with some sass mouth from the characters you meet, more pop culture references than you could shake a gif of Miley Cyrus twerking at, humour, and have I mentioned the color yet?
Sunset Overdrive is beautiful, it’s the kind of beauty that makes you feel dizzy as it washes by you as you grind down city streets, it’s an explosion of ‘Brrrr’ as you land a chilled missile or a bulbous ‘Pop’ after you execute a Popper OD.
Still not convinced? Then you only have to look at the customization afforded to you – create a character, chose their look and build, an outfit that’s not locked by your choice of gender, in fact there’s nothing stopping you being a tank of a man in half purple half green afro and short skirt, battle armor while wearing the head of an OD as a helmet! Bored of that? Well then stop by the vendors and change it, buy something new, become a petite woman in a biker jacket, fedora and wetsuit pants – the world of Sunset Overdrive is yours to mess with!
If you do get tired of the main campaign of the game then you can take to a competitive coop mode called ChaosSquad. Here you’ll work with up to seven other players to earn some bonuses and advantages in side missions before you’re put to the test and defend your base from an onslaught of hyped up OD. While you’re working together, you’ll also be trying to outdo your teammates and prove yourself as the most stylish to unlock some more rewards – all of which can be used in campaign mode.
Sunset Overdrive does not take itself seriously, it’s refreshing! I have actually choked on my own laughter, oogled at the wit and colorful charm this game exudes from every pixel. So often now we look to our games to evoke these deep and powerful emotions and experiences from us, whether your fighting back tears or clenching your grip on the controller that we seem to forget that sometimes a video game is just that, a game and games can be fun. Poking fun at itself, at it’s players and at the culture of video gaming, Sunset Overdrive tries to fool you into thinking it’s a goofball (and it is) but it’s also a pretty intelligent game with oodles of customization, old school tricks and plenty of energy to keep you coming back even if it’s just to grind some wires and open fire on some hapless mutants.
Chaotic! Hyperactive! Fun! Get it now! 9/10
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!