SDCC 14: Sunset Overdrive Has Some Smokin’ Sick Style
Since its very first trailer, it’s been clear that Insomniac Games’ new multiplayer shooter, Sunset Overdrive, eschews the gloom and grit of modern military shooters for a bit of stylish, sparkly, fun, and after getting our hands on the demo at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con it’s clear just how brightly this sun shines.
Coming into Sunset Overdrive, we expected the type of Horde Mode-style experience which has come to be standard in most shooters, but this game kickflipped our expectations to the curb. Sure, what we played still had us defending against waves of enemies, but rather than hunker down and steel ourselves for the onslaught, Sunset Overdrive wants players to keep moving and showing off as we’re killing. During our mission to protect and survive, we took to the streets and rooftops, and grinded, jumped, and wallran across every surface like heavily-armed Jet Set Radio characters, with bright lights and neon-infused mutants and explosions booming at every turn.
We had a wide selection of weapons (and not-so wide selection of traps) to fend off Sunset City’s mutated citizens. Standard armaments, like machine guns, were available, but we found it much more satisfying to blow away bad guys with more unusual tools like disc throwers and neon-green dragon firework-rocket guns. Players can also plant traps, and while the developers promised many devilish devices in the full game, the demo only included a bladed whirligig machine. Still, this lone trap was easy to place effectively and satisfying to watch in action as it sliced and diced the countless mutants marauding their way across the city. Big mutants, small mutants, fast mutants, slow mutants- since this was just a demo we didn’t expect to see a huge variety in enemy types, but Sunset Overdrive kept things varied enough that we were constantly facing new foes.
As you play each match Sunset Overdrive awards style points, used to gain access to new equipment over the course of the match. If you try to play this as you would any other shooter, expect to lose quickly; the monsters are fast and aggressive, so players who just sat around strafing and shooting quicky found themselves overwhelmed. But, those who grinded around the level’s many grindlines and played stylishly, rather than just aggressively, shot to the top of the leaderboards and helped lead their teams to victory. This emphasis of style over strongheadedness gives Sunset Overdrive a very different, very fun feel.
Insomniac Games repeatedly emphasized how much Sunset Overdrive was developed with the mentality of letting players do what they want, and it shows. Cosmetic options aren’t gender-locked, there’s no class system to restrict weapons or traps, and players move with the grace of Spider-Man, all contributing to a feeling that this game wants you to do whatever the hell you think is most fun.
Though the demo was only around ten minutes long, it gave us a great taste of what Sunset Overdrive has in store for us when it arrives. With the countless cosmetic options, gameplay modes, weapons, traps, and more promised by Insomniac Games, this high-flying, fast-footed shooter looks like it may be the start of a long and luxurious franchise.
Sunset Overdrive will be available exclusively on the Xbox One on Oct. 28.