Sunset Overdrive (XB1) Review

Overcharged fun.

Sunset City is being overrun by mutants created by energy drinks. Does that sound ridiculous? Well that is exactly what Sunset Overdrive is striving for. Insomniac’s latest game is all about style, both in game play and visual fidelity. This is also their first game built exclusively for an Xbox console, and their best creation since the Ratchet and Clank series.

This may be a bold statement, but stick with me for a second. Games at their core are about fun. As long as I am having a good time, I generally want to keep playing them. Creating a game play loop that is infinitely enjoyable is a challenging task. Insomniac is known for their insane weapons, and Sunset Overdrive takes it to new levels with the selection of firearms available.

The teddy bear launcher is awesome.

MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: Xbox One
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
Multiplayer: Co-op online

There is a teddy bear launcher that explodes on impact. There is a harpoon that nails mutants (and humans) to the wall. There is a gun that explodes into flames when it hits enemies. There is even a firework launcher that displays dragons as it fizzles out. This is the stuff dreams are made of.

It all plays out in a unique fashion as well. Sunset Overdrive is the most vibrant game I have played in a long time. Its style and color palette really jump out of the screen. Seeing enemies explode with comic book-style words above their heads never gets old. It all runs flawlessly as well. No matter how many enemies were onscreen, or how much carnage I created, the game never missed a beat. Character designs are over exaggerated and I love it. Being able to customize my character with ridiculous hats and even a kangaroo codpiece only adds to the personality of Sunset Overdrive.

This is an open-world game at its core, but it also delivers a stylish way to traverse the environment. As I mentioned, it is all about style. Traversal is a combination of jumps, bounces, grinds, wall-running and a lot more. There is a combo meter that keeps track of how many actions are performed in a row, which also fills up a style meter. This is where Amps come in.

Amps are like modifiers. Equipping one to weapons (or just in general) will grant the player extra abilities depending on their style level. There are four levels, and the Amps can modify attacks, so for example, one of the earlier Amps added a fireball to my melee attack when I hit style level one. They can also be added to weapons to create effects such as freezing enemies or dealing more damage. The higher the level Amp, the more frequent its abilities fire, but I also had to have that style level to activate it.

It’s a complex system, but definitely one that is fun to play around with. Mixing up Amps for situations became a game in itself. There are also badges that are earned, which can be cashed in for modifiers. These include regenerating health, extra ammo capacity and more. Badges are earned just by playing the game, so for example killing a set number of enemies, or grinding a certain distance. There are constantly things to upgrade and apply.

The weapons are not only unique, but can also be upgraded simply by using them. Different weapons are also more effective against different enemies. There are several types of enemies in the game, and each weapon has a different star rating based on how effective it is against that type. It is fun to experiment with all the various ways to take down foes in Sunset City.

Sunset City is huge, but probably the most daunting thing about the game is its collectibles and currency. There are four main items to collect, and there are 150 of each spread throughout the. These are used as currency to buy and build Amps. There there is Overcharge, which is the energy drink that mutated the citizens; it buys collectible maps and guns. Then there is money, which is used for vanity items. Once I had all the collectible maps, my main map looked like chaos. So many things scattered about. Combined with the side missions and challenges, I could barely see anything else.

The unique style is really incredible.

There is also an online mode called Chaos Squad. This can be played with friends or random players, with 6-8 people joining in on the fun. These are one-off missions that slowly build chaos in the city. After each one, players are given a chance to vote on the next one. Once enough chaos has ensued, the night defense mission commences. This is essentially a tower defense style objective, similar to the ones found in single player. The more chaos created, the better the rewards, and all currency and vanity items awarded are shared between single and multi-player.

Online is a blast with friends, and could serve up plenty of hours of entertainment when players get tired of searching for the last 100 rolls of toilet paper in the main game.

I can’t stress enough how much I love the look and feel of Sunset Overdrive. The style alone was worth the price of admission. Everything about it feels fresh. It isn’t derivative of other games, even though it borrows heavily from several. It is fun, and that is the most important aspect of any game for me nowadays. I spent double-digit hours exploring the city, collecting items, and simply destroying anything in my path, and I can’t wait to do more. That speaks volumes about a game, and Sunset Overdrive is certainly not one to be missed this holiday season.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Visual style
  • Traversal is fun
  • Weapon selection
  • Tons to see and do
  • Far too many collectibles and currencies
  • Some frustrating sections
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.