Sunset Overdrive Xbox One review, it truly is an Awesomepocalypse

Sunset Overdrive from Insomniac Games is the Xbox One's newest exclusive IP. These guys have worked exclusively with Sony on PlayStation for almost 20 years. However, Insomniac studios decided it was time for something new and Microsoft was willing to take a chance on them. Thus Sunset Overdrive was born.

Insomniac takes a radiant apocalyptic world, adds some unique over-the-top game play elements, and a touch of great writing and creates the tour-de-force that is Sunset Overdrive. The game is in no way, shape, or form afraid to go all out. Xbox One gamers are in for a special experience with this one.

Welcome to Sunset City

Sunset Overdrive takes place during the "Awesomepacolypse," which begins when the new energy drink "Overcharge" begins to turn its consumers into mindless mutants called Overcharge Drinkers or "OD'd." Fizzco, the creators of the drink know they're at fault for the horrible mutations, but they choose to cover up their involvement instead of helping to fight the new plague.

As the Awesomepocalypse begins, a tutorial gives players a quick lesson on Sunset Overdrive's traversal experience, extreme weaponry, and sense of humor. The game has no run button, and walking on the floor makes you an easy meal for the OD'd. Instead, Sunset Overdrive allows you to grind on any railing and bounce on almost any object. What sounds like a rather easy task, turns out to be quite hard. Nonetheless, once you get the hang of it, it's probably the most rewarding way to get around. The game has a fast-travel feature, but I hardly ever found myself using it.

Sunset Overdrive's weapons are completely over the top. "The Flaming Compensator" was the first gun that was handed to me in the game. It's a long-barreled shotgun (with two huge balls on the bottom) that shoots orange gunk. The guns only get sillier and more destructive from there. Soon you'll be firing explosive teddy bears at hordes of monsters, or planting acid sprinklers to create a defensive perimeter.

To make things even more interesting, Sunset Overdrive allows you to upgrade weapons using Amps. These allow your weapon to be amplified by adding special abilities once you reach a certain combo level. For example, that TNTeddy we spoke about earlier is great for taking out a group of OD'd, but if you add the "Winter Is Coming" amp to it, it will gain a blast that freezes enemies in the area.

Speaking of combos, Sunset Overdrive would be nothing without them. The combo system emphasizes the game's broad range of movement options. Instead of focusing totally on kills, it's wall riding and grinding that add to the combo meter. That adds a lot of difficulty early on. Beginners might find themselves pressing the wrong button or simply missing an easy grind, killing their combos. But once you get the hang of it, filling the combo meter won't be so bad.

The enemy of my enemy is, well, still my enemy

Sunset Overdrive features three kinds of enemies with unique strengths and weaknesses: OD'd, Scabs, and Fizzco Bots. The most prevalent of them all of course, is the OD'd. They tend to crowd around and are easily susceptible to fire weapons.

A few classes of enemies come in larger sizes and take more effort to kill. The Herker, for example, is one of the bigger OD'd and loves to charge or throw objects at you while you grind or jump about.

No two fights feel alike here due to the variety of enemies and environments. The smaller areas really add to the challenge of combat. Sometimes a fight would break out in a place with very few railings, and I suffered a few deaths and I tried to figure out how to escape to higher ground.

The fourth wall breaker

Sunset Overdrive is probably the most self-aware game I have ever played. It is constantly making fun of itself as well as video games in general. For example, at one point during the game an ominous voice starts talking to you and giving you tips on how to play the game and your character can't help but to bicker with him or it for that matter.

The writing in the game is simply amazing. I can't remember an original game that has as great a sense of humor as Sunset Overdrive does. You will often find yourself enjoying cut scenes just to hear the next punchline or the next fourth wall joke. As much as I could argue that the gameplay kept me around, I could equally argue that the writing in the game did as well.

Mr. Errand boy

Like many other open world games, story progress often involves completing simple point A-to-point B missions as well as escort missions. I like to call these missions errand missions because they feel like real life errands, which can get annoying. Sure, they're an easy way to push the campaign forward, but I prefer more variety.

On the other hand, at least the game acknowledges its formulaic missions. The player character jokes about them at one point, breaking the fourth wall as Sunset overdrive loves to do. Even if the story missions are too similar, the random encounters with enemies and witty writing manage to keep things entertaining.

Chaos Squad

Chaos Squad is Sunset Overdrive's online multiplayer that allows you to join up to 7 of your friends for some open-world mayhem. First the group votes between two objectives. At the end of the objective you choose between another two, and this goes on for another 2-3 rounds. Once all rounds are finished, the group begins a Night Defense mission. This is Sunsets Overdrive's take on horde mode.

Night Defense begins with the party placing traps around their base. Once the traps are set, the waves of enemies will start rolling in. Depending how much chaos you collected in the previous rounds, they can be very difficult to keep at bay.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend any time with Chaos Squad before release (ahem!) so I can't go into more detail just yet. However, we will be streaming some Chaos Squad on launch day, so keep an eye out for that.


About half of the Achievements in Sunset Overdrive can be obtained from beating the campaign. But the majority of the higher GamerScore Achievements require profound dedication and intense focus.

One Achievement I am adamantly trying to get is called "The Floor is Lava." It requires you to chain together 100 traversal moves without stopping or touching the ground. The closest I've come to achieving this so far is 46 traversal moves.

Another cool but hard Achievement is the "I should get paid for this" achievement. This one has you playing the Buck's Revenge challenge, and requires you to score a 534,080. This score beats the score of Insomniac's QA team. But if you want some killer Achievement loot, I will recommend that you get you and your buddies in some Chaos Squad matches.

Overall Impression

Sunset Overdrive is the most fun I've had with a shooter in a long time. If you took BulletStorm, Crackdown, and Tony Hawk Pro Skater and morphed them into one, you'd end up with Sunset Overdrive. The game simply goes all out from beginning to end. Its punk rock sass and colorful world makes it so distinct from other games, a breath of fresh air. This feels like the game that Insomniac has always strived to create, finally realized on Xbox One.

Sunset Overdrive will have you grinding, wall running, and jumping around like never before, giving players an unusual level of freedom of movement. If you're looking for a new gaming experience and over the top fun, this is the game you need to get your hands on.

Jonathan Dollison