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Sunset Overdrive (Insomniac Games – 2014) Review

Welcome to Sunset City, circa 2027. The city has descended into a luminous orange apocalyptic nightmare after its citizens were transformed into mutants (known as the OD) as a result of consuming a bad batch of FizzCo’s new energy drink, OverCharge Delirium XT.

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The first thing I noticed about Sunset Overdrive is that it is visually spectacular. The vivid colour palette, give-no-fucks punk-rock attitude and whacky style give it so much character it almost bursts at the seams. As I zipped down a power line by the end of a crowbar firing explosive teddy bear’s and brightly coloured fireworks into the crowd of OD beneath me, laughing as they exploded fluorescent orange goo across the streets with a comic-book style ‘POP’, I looked out across the cityscape – with its bright neon lights and high risers gleaming in the distance – and realised just how beautiful this game actually is.

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I also realised that I had been playing for a solid 6 hours and not actually done, well, anything. That’s not to say I hadn’t killed a large number of OD, tracked down some of Sunset Overdrive’s impressively hefty number of collectibles (some 850+ which include toilet roll, shoes and cell phones) and gracefully traversed my way across the city, but in those 6 hours I had not advanced the story one bit.

The vivid colour palette, give-no-fucks punk-rock attitude and whacky style give it so much character it almost bursts at the seams.

The Jet Set Radio/Crackdown style bounce-and-grind-on-anything traversal system does take some getting used to and can be tricky at times, especially when you are being assaulted from every angle by the copious amounts of OD and robots and trying to keep your combo up. Nevertheless once you settle into a rhythm and movement becomes second nature, things get a lot easier, and you’ll find yourself flying across the city at breakneck speeds destroying everything in your path with an ear-to-ear grin on your face.

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Like other open-world games, Sunset Overdrive has a plethora of side quests, collectibles, challenges and easter eggs to discover. But what makes Sunset Overdrive differ from other games is the absolutely stellar writing, drenched in pop culture references, that makes comedy an integral part of the gaming experience. From the pun-machine-protagonist who rattles off razor sharp one-liners quicker than Jimmy Carr, the constant barrage of fourth wall breaking gags (including using the style meter to stab an enemy to death) to the completely ridiculous weapons (including a flaming bowling ball gun aptly named ‘the Dude’) – the wit is present. Humour is at the core of the game and it resonates through every fibre of the 15-or-so hour campaign.

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To complement the previously mentioned ridiculousness, the diverse supporting cast of apocalyptic survivors, would-be’s and lunatics are numerous and brilliant. In Mean-Girls-esque fashion, every clique is present: the socially awkward Oxford-nerds, the wily Bushido scouts, the Fargathian LARPers and the overly aggressive cheerleaders. What make the factions in Sunset Overdrive superb are the subtle paradoxical twists the writers give each group, coupled with some fantastic voice acting.

Sunset Overdrive is magnificent. The fluid traversal, laugh-inducing action, hilarious writing and superb supporting cast make for an incredibly enjoyable experience. Put simply, this is some of the most fun I’ve had in a game.


+ Spectacular visual style

+ Stellar writing

+ Collectibles for days

+ Frantic combat


- Traversal can be tricky at times

 

– 9/10

Sam Spettigue – follow Sam on Twitter at @ninjaspag.

About Sam Spettigue

Sam Spettigue is the resident nerd and Tech Department Lead for the Daily Mail Australia, SysAdmin, DevOp, writer, video & board game aficionado, comic book guru, chocolate milkshake connoisseur and go-to guy for all things pop culture and geeky. Some of his other work can be found at GraffitiWithPunctuation.net, he tweets at @ninjaspag and posts on Instagram at @samuelspettigue.