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Hello, I’m Kinglink and this is my review of Sunset Overdrive, created by Insomniac Games, and published by Xbox Games Studio.
Insomniac is well known. They’re the developers who made Ratchet and Clank, Resistance, Spyro, and of course Marvel’s Spider-man. Remember to respect the hyphen. They have been a solid developer over their career, with fun and inventive gameplay. Sunset Overdrive is the first game from them on a Microsoft console and it was the first one on PC, so let’s take a look at Sunset Overdrive
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Sunset Overdrive is one of the most vibrant games I’ve seen in a while. You’ll see throughout this whole review, this is the anti-military shooter washed in greys and browns. There’s a ton of graphical design and I can’t even think of a point in this game where you get a typical look. This game just oozes color.
But before we see the world, let’s talk about the character. We start with normal character creation, and you can not only choose male or female, but also body type. I went with the huge beefy guy who can take on any challenge. Yes, this doesn’t actually change Sunset Overdrive but I love the design of this body.
There is something missing on this initial character creator, like clothes. But don’t worry too much about this, before the first hour is up you’ll be able to customize your character further and look through outfits. It helps create a special character.
But again there isn’t a ton of options for clothing… so after a little more playtime, you actually also get the ability to buy clothes from a store, and sure enough, you have a ton more customization here. It’s a great touch and absolutely worth spending some time. Also, the money spent on clothes is a different currency from the money spent on gameplay elements, so that was a great way to allow people to customize without taking something away from other parts of Sunset Overdrive.
The Player Customization is a big piece of the agency of the player and if you want to keep messing with it, you’ll constantly find new outfits and pieces as you play. I stuck to three outfits, but there’s always new pieces of clothing that appear as you play the game.
Sunset Overdrive though is crazy colorful like I mentioned. Though there’s a lot of clever little tricks, such as Sunset Overdrive throwing words into their graphical effects. Apocalypse! Get Home! Pop!. It’s just another way the game keeps everything feeling a bit light-hearted and fun.
On the other hand, well … the enemies are a bit weak. There are really three groups of enemies, first is the OD, these are like mutated baddies, just covered with gross mutations on them. These are the most unique enemies and honestly, I like the design because I haven’t seen this before.
The other two groups… Ugh… There’s the Scabs, and that’s kind of what they are. They are human but they are filling in for other enemies and they really have no personality or feeling, just typical enemies.
Finally, we have the robots, the security forces of Fizzco, white slick looking, but ultimately just bigger and bigger tanky enemies, until they get to the tank bot. These are not interesting enemies at all.
The vibrant look of the world is good, but the fact is after about 20 hours of game time, it’s all the same. It’s not Brown, but it’s just very green, and it’s a nice change, but nothing is done with it. It’s just hyper colorful on the whole. Don’t get me wrong, this is better than other games, but it would have been interesting to take up the three islands that this game is made of and given more of a real theme to the game’s color palettes.
In addition, the music here which I won’t be playing is solid, they have a system where the better you play the more diversity you get in the music. You get a beat when your style on level one, but you get some lyrics at 2 and so on up the scale. It’s clever, kind of like old Tony Hawk games, but a lot of the music just made me want to listen to Blitzkrieg Bop.
Let’s also talk about weapons because Insomniac is known for its work with weapons. It’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed every Ratchet and Clank game, as well as Resistance having some great choices. You get the whiff of that here.
The first weapon we get is this crass looking shotgun. Double balls, very mature guys, but this called the Flaming compensator. Yeah ok that’s clever
Next up we get the High Fidelity It’s a gun that shoots records that rebound off stuff… Again a good concept and listen, these are both inventive weapons. Good.
Then you earn the Dirty Harry… Yeah, we’re going downhill here. This is just a Revolver, very powerful but that’s about it.
Later on, you can pick up the AK FU, which is a good name, but again, it doesn’t do anything that special. Half the guns are inventive, there’s a chilling bomb, a couple of acid spinner and these are good, but there are a decent amount of just normal shotgun weapons, AKs, Revolvers. There are at least 2 guns like Captain Ahab, a harpoon that shoots out Overcharge for the enemies to rush towards, for each normal gun, but the normal guns feel far more effective.
This isn’t helped by the fact that the PC Steam version has all the DLC, which does double the weapon count, but only by giving more powerful versions of each weapon. Here’s an example, the Headbanger, vs The Dude, they both throw bowling balls, but one is more powerful than the other. Whatever.
We’ll talk a bit more about this and what I meant with style in gameplay, but this is a graphical component to it.
One last thing I have to talk about is the respawn animations. You will actually want to die a few times in Sunset Overdrive. These are great. You’ll have everything from time travel, mummy’s walk, coming out of the grave, ringu, and everything else for how to come back from the dead, and I love these. Honestly, if there’s a montage of just these, it would be enjoyable.
So let’s talk about the story of Sunset Overdrive, you start as a janitor of Fizzco, who is having a huge concert to kick off the new Overcharge drink and everyone is drinking. Sure enough, this causes a mutant outbreak.
It’s a simple story but works effectively to put the main character both in danger but also in the heart of the action. Of course, this game devolves into corporations are bad and Fizzco tries to cover up their mistakes. Granted you kind of have to ignore the fact that even Coke or Pepsi couldn’t go through the lengths that Fizzco goes through in Sunset Overdrive.
They put up a giant wall around the city, and are trying to finish off the residents. That is unrealistic, but just go with it and you should have a good time. You have an Evil faceless corporation and you’re trying to stay alive and escape the city. It works, but as I said, don’t dig too deep because. It’s also kind of silly.
There’s actually a lot of good references, a great moment is a tutorial where a booming voice tells the player,that is the main character how to use style abilities. There are tons of little throwaway jokes that work, such as this Breaking Bad reference. Jesse who needs us to set up a new location for him, while fighting off a lot of bad guys, these are clearly from the final seasons of the show.
There are tons of references. Like a group of millennials always on the phone or a bunch of larpers later on. But the thing is, these references work because they don’t overstay their welcome, they make a couple of jokes at the expense of someone but then move on. It’s not trying to be an homage or recreation but just humor and that’s what makes it funny.
There are a number of characters in Sunset Overdrive, and they’re all solid, good and interesting, though… I wasn’t as big a fan of the last group you meet, it still is fun to continue to meet colorful characters as you play.
Overall, you’ll probably have fun with the character and a number of quests here. They’re interesting with good writing, even the sidequests are quite funny, such as a guy who wants to use the apocalypse as a way to grow his comic book collection.
The gameplay on the other hand is more of the question because I honestly am not sure exactly what Insomniac was trying to go for. There are two very clear motifs to Sunset Overdrive. Players are able to grind and bounce off most objects and it feels like either a version of “The Floor is Lava!” or something similar to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
I like both of these ideas and themes, I’d love a good Tony Hawk game, but you’re not on a skateboard here, you just can grind rails. It doesn’t help that walking around is rather slow and not as much fun. Sunset Overdrive almost feels like it was a different game before it was Sunset Overdrive.
Much of Sunset Overdrive is focused on style, grinding bouncing and wall running will help you. Enemies will find it harder to hit you, and you’ll generate style that can trigger additional bonuses, such as the badge system.
The problem is an unnecessary addition to the game. You can just stand and fight enemies at times, but without grinding you’ll get hit more often. Much of this game is just trying to find things to constantly “trick” off, which works for a while but by the end of Sunset Overdrive becomes more of a chore.
There are, however, some very cool pieces of this game, like trying to do an infinite wall run. Which absolutely is possible such as this.
It’s actually kind of common to hear this game is called Tony Hawk with guns because of this idea of style, it’s the first thing I thought of but I can’t imagine many users thinking anything else because that’s what this game is about. It wants you to grind, bounce and play with these features and punishes you when you don’t.
If you can grind, and bounce and kill, well you kind of have everything that Sunset Overdrive is trying to make you do, but at the same time, that’s much of the depth, the enemies do get more powerful but it’s more about how quickly you’ll have to change from grinding X rail to grinding Y rail, if you can keep changing that up, you’ve basically got it all.
The grinding and bouncing aren’t horrible when it’s a form of platforming like in a level where you’re grinding to open up different valves. But a majority of this game devolves into shooty bang bang, or in this game’s case, Shooty grind bang bounce bang… Yeah, it’s not much better.
As mentioned before the weapons can be a bit weak. I ended up using the AK a lot as it’s a strong weapon but not thrilling, however, the sillier weapons don’t feel as powerful and thus why wouldn’t you use the weapons that are a bit easier to use, which all are standard weapons. Even the teddy bear with dynamite is really just a grenade launcher.
Some weapons are stronger versus some types of enemies but this system is a bit more annoying because it really just seems to favor types of enemies. Humans are easy to kill, the OD can be challenging, but the Robots are just hard to kill. They take the most damage, and even when a gun says it’s effective against the Robot enemies, it takes a lot of use to get there.
The mission gameplay does tend to be just a typical shooter with those style elements but the story is good here, and there are fun moments. A great late-game mission is about forging a new amazing sword, which is hilarious to play. There are also mission elements like this where you’re guarding a train as it’s barrelling down the tracks and it’s a fun little piece of gameplay.
One thing to know is if you enjoy a mission you’re able to replay it, which is something most games fail to do, but you can always go back and replay your favorite pieces of Sunset Overdrive, so kudos to that.
On the other side… side quests are a bit weak. They have no immediate need to finish them but I wish they would show up on the mini-map as you got closer. They appear on the main map but unless you have the mission selected you’ll pass right by them. As mentioned, the story for many of them are pretty funny.
There are also challenges in the game like the traversal challenges. They’re solid diversions but not very long. There are a lot of different types. We have traversals, point collectors, even a little game show that the player has to participate in for a mission but gives a variety of tasks to score points.
There are also only about four bosses in the game for the most part. This is an early boss, which is again, well done, but I would have liked more of these because they’re interesting and unique parts of the game.
However as mentioned all the DLC is here, which gives two different side stories, both of these are worth checking out, but one of them has a great final boss.
There are also a great number of collectibles for people who want to obsess over them, but there’s entirely too many of them. While the phones on-screen are great, the rest are meh. I mean sneakers hanging from lines, toilet paper on stuff, it’s not that exciting to collect them and we’re talking about over a hundred of each type of collectibles. Kind of a grind.
There’s even more. I mean there’s TONS to do here, but none really feel special outside of what I talked about. You have chests that respawn, captured people, trucks of Overcharge you can open, but these amount to just ways to get a few more of the currency of the game, it’s not that special, just stuff to do that will keep popping up.
So how is Sunset Overdrive? Well, It is a fun, interesting, and beautiful romp at times. It really doesn’t take itself too seriously and you shouldn’t either but you’ll enjoy playing through it. There are interesting sights and interesting people.
But the gameplay does take a bit of getting used to. The controls are fine, but having to constantly grind and bounce isn’t always the most interesting way to play the game, and it’s required here.
There is a good amount of content however, it just doesn’t live up to the history of Insomniac’s games. Sunset Overdrive is better than Resistance but I don’t think it lives up to Spider-man, Ratchet and Clank’s best games or Spyro. Still, that’s a very high bar that Insomniac has made, and Sunset Overdrive is still a great game.
I give Sunset Overdrive a
Sunset Overdrive is a solid game, and it’s something fresh. If it wasn’t for the writing, graphics and attempting something new, this would be far worse, but Insomniac once again finds a new innovative take on a genre that seems to have many average games.
Though that gameplay does hold it back just a bit, and the guns… they hurt that final score. You’ll still have fun though.
That’s Sunset Overdrive and it’s wonderful to see console only developers finally reach PC. Supposedly we’ll see even more before long with Sony now coming to PC. The modern gaming world is kind of strange.
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And I’ll throw up a couple of videos here. We’re talking Insomniac games so let’s take a look at the Spyro Reignited Collection, and since this is kind of a 3D Platformer, let’s take a look at another great 3D Platformer, A Hat in Time.
Until then I’m Kinglink and thanks for watching.