Sunset Overdrive definitely wasn’t on my radar when I bought an Xbox One. I vaguely remember seeing ads for the game when it first came out, but forgot about it almost immediately.
That all changed a few weeks ago when I heard rumblings that Sunset Overdrive was actually a pretty great game. Around that same time, Amazon put it on sale for $15, and you can guess the rest. A few days later I had it in my hot little hands.
If you’re a long-time reader of this site, you may remember how much Saints Row 3 surprised and delighted me when I finally got around to playing it. Sunset Overdrive gave me that feeling all over again. It’s in the same absurdist action-comedy wheelhouse, and it feels fresher than the fourth Saints Row game.
The basic premise of Sunset Overdrive is as follows: an evil soft drink corporation makes an energy drink that turns most of the inhabitants of an island metropolis (a New York City analog with a California feel) into bloodthirsty monsters. You, the lucky protagonist, manage to survive the night along with a few key city dwellers. You spend the rest of the game trying to fight your way off the island, and hijinks ensue.
Sunset Overdrive is an incredibly silly game. You traverse the city by grinding on rails with your sneakers or bouncing off abandoned cars, bushes, vents – basically anything other than the ground. My favorite weapon shoots exploding teddy bears that say “whee”. The protagonist has conversations with an omniscient narrator and tends to break the fourth wall. I also got a kick out of customizing my character’s appearance with the game’s huge collection of costumes. Basically, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
That said, Sunset Overdrive isn’t a particularly deep game. The way it just sort of shrugs and laughs at its wildly inconsistent plot occasionally makes it feel sloppy instead of clever, but that sloppiness does have a certain charm.
I only wish that it hadn’t flown under the radar for so long. I’m glad I was able to pick it up for cheap, but I’m sad that it seems like Sunset Overdrive was a commercial failure. I’d love to play another game in this bizarre world, so I hope that the developer gets another crack at it.
Also, if you have an Xbox Live membership, you’re in luck, because Sunset Overdrive is one of April’s free Games With Gold. You won’t regret the download.