Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One)

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Sunday, November 2, 2014

It’s been over a year since Microsoft and developer Insomniac Games first unveiled the wacky and colorful shooter Sunset Overdrive at E3 2013. I had the opportunity to play a bit of the games multiplayer mode, dubbed Chaos Squad (which I’ll describe in detail later) at E3 2014. While I enjoyed it for the most part, it did make me a bit more skeptical on how I’d end up enjoying the games final product. Thankfully, the final game didn’t disappoint.

Equal parts color and insanity, Sunset Overdrive is far and away one of the most ridiculously fun games that I’ve played over the last few years. Insomniac Games, a long time PlayStation exclusive studio (responsible for the franchise Ratchet and Clank), made the announcement that they’d be releasing a game exclusively on the Xbox One, certainly made waves in the news. James Stevenson, community and marketing lead at Insomniac Games, said this about their decision to partner with Microsoft:

We had to partner with the right group that believed in us and the vision of the game, wanted to see that vision came to life, and was ok with us retaining the rights to our creation.

With their partnership with Microsoft done, the team had to start focusing on the games story. In 2027, FizzCo released their new energy drink dubbed OverCharge Delirium XT. The company didn’t do an adequate job of human trials and the drink ends up turning the vast majority of the cities inhabitants into mutants. That’s pretty much it in terms of necessary story details. Your character (who’s completely customizable, save for the voice) works for the club where FizzCo launches the drink. After being attacked by the infected and escaping, you’ll meet up with a merry band of misfits who will help you in your quest to escape. Over the course of the campaign, which features seemingly endless hours of story and optional missions, you’ll meet a ton of hilarious characters, most of whom are a parody of themselves.


That’s one of the beauties and most appealing qualities of Sunset Overdrive – it doesn’t take itself seriously. Like Dead Rising 3, the Saints Row franchise and many others, Sunset Overdrive manages to put forth quality gameplay while not taking itself too seriously. While it’s certainly fun to play serious zombie games, sometimes it’s nice to play through one with a wisecracking protagonist who likes to break the fourth wall.

Sunset Overdrive is visually stunning, in large part to the colorful world Insomniac created. No matter where you go in the city, it just pops with an unbelievable vibrancy that seems to be lost in a world of video games that seems to be getting progressively “darker”. Throughout my nearly twenty hours with the game (so far), I’ve felt as though my senses are being constantly stimulated by the colors, the sights and the sounds of the city. It’s infectious. (groans).

On top of how great the visuals are, what makes me come back to Sunset Overdrive is your ability to traverse the environment. Insomniac wants you constantly moving while you’re fighting. If you stop moving, you’ll die pretty quickly. Pretty much anything in the environment will help you traverse around the map quickly. Jump on bushes and air vents for quick jump boosts, grind on railings and train tracks, and wall run. Between the games color and your ability to maneuver so easily, Jet Set Radio is the first comparison that comes to mind. The controls for traversing the environment can be a bit awkward to get use to at first, after your first few missions you’ll slowly start to get the hang of them and a few hours in you’ll be a pro.


As for your weapons, it’s you’ve got so many great ones to choose from. Rocket launchers that fire exploding teddy bears, harpoon guns, a bowling ball gun known as “The Dude” (hello, The Big Lebowski). Through traversing the environment and completing quests, you’ll unlock a ton of other great to allow you to slaughter your mutant foes without issue.

If, like me, you enjoy co-op gaming, you’ll definitely want to try out Sunset Overdrives co-op mode known as Chaos Squad. After finding a phone booth in your single player game you’ll be added to a horde-style multiplayer co-op mode that has you fighting off wave after wave of enemies. There’s nothing too complex or challenging about Chaos Squad, but it’s tons of fun, especially if you’re playing with friends rather than just random people over Xbox Live.


While the gameplay can get a bit repetitive after awhile, there’s enough variety in your missions and activities are there to always be something you’re interested in doing. Between its vibrant colors, seamless combat and movement and unique humor style, Sunset Overdrive is one of the best and most unique games of the year. There’s a bit of a learning curve at first, but don’t let that deter you from continuing to play the game. Soon you’ll be putting together insane combos and destroying mutant hordes without mercy. If you’re debating whether or not to pick up Sunset Overdrive – do.

Sunset Overdrive is out now exclusively on the Xbox One.

The Good

+ Visually vibrant and stunning.

+ Fun traversal style.

+ Charming humor and story.

+ Difficult but ultimately satisfying combat.

+ Endless unique respawn animations.

+ Chaos Squad co-op.

+ Level of character customization.

The Bad

- Learning curve.

- A bit too repetitive at times.


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