“Fun” is a term one would rarely associate with modern AAA gaming, yet that is one aspect this 2014 Xbox One gem provides in spades. While the game’s eye-popping artstyle, pumping neo-punk soundtrack, oddball characters and hilarious writing (with constant fourth wall breaks) do keep the player engaged throughout the 25-30 hour experience, it’s the wild and satisfying movement & parkour system that steals the show – I expect no less from Insomniac after all, they’re a studio with a pedigree in fluid traversal systems… and I might argue that this is one of the finest, not just this gen, but in all of gaming.
Couple all that fast-paced grinding, bouncing and wall-running around the literal concrete jungle that is the game’s setting of Sunset City, with an insane arsenal of crazy weapons that fit the game’s Saturday morning cartoon nature to a tee, and Sunset Overdrive is easily one of the most fun I’ve had with a game yet – so much so that it hooked me in from start to finish… And I’m a person that gets bored quickly and tends to drop a game into my ever-growing backlog if it threatens to bore me.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses: a barebones plot which falls thin near the end despite an interesting setup, one dimensional NPCs, cakewalk bosses, repetitive & even tedious design and some bugs (in the PC version) often attempt to stick a foot out to trip your experience – yet the adrenaline-fueled momentum of the game was strong enough for me to blaze past those obstacles, always ready to annihilate another horde of orange, soda-guzzling mutants, with my trusty fire shotgun and cute AF teddy bear grenade launcher. All this chaos is just amplified times ten thanks to the Style meter that increases player damage in addition to activating some sick powerups that’ll mow down those uglies in no time. A true power fantasy.
Ultimately it’s a shame this game did so poorly in terms of reception. No one really talks about it anymore, barely anyone even remembers it – and that’s honestly a disservice to one of the few major current gen titles that values gameplay substance over smoke and mirrors.