Sunset Overdrive

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Sunset Overdrive
Sunset Overdrive cover.jpg
Developer(s) Insomniac Games
Publisher(s) Microsoft Studios
Composer(s) Boris Salchow
Platform(s) Xbox One
Release date(s) NA October 28, 2014[1]
JP 20141030October 30, 2014
AUS 20141030October 30, 2014
EU October 31, 2014[1]
Genre(s) Action-adventure, third-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Sunset Overdrive is an open world third-person shooter comedic video game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Microsoft Studios exclusively for the Xbox One. Sunset Overdrive is set in 2027, in the fictional open world metropolis called Sunset City. The player controls an employee of FizzCo, who has to fight off the OD, short for Overcharge Drinkers: humans who have turned to mutants after drinking FizzCo's soda beverage. In the dystopian Sunset City the player character can wall-run, use zip-lines, and grind rails to swiftly navigate through Sunset City, and have a large weapon arsenal to use.

Sunset Overdrive was well received by critics and won a number of awards.


Gameplay screenshot of Sunset Overdrive

Players navigate the open world metropolis Sunset City in 2027. The dystopian world has been overrun by mutants called the OD, short for Overcharge Drinkers. The player character, whose gender, skin tone and body type can be customized, is a former FizzCo employee, tasked with cleaning up the mess left behind from a party FizzCo has thrown in celebration of the launch of their new energy drink, Overcharge Delirium XT. Players fight the OD'd humans who have mutated from drinking too much of the energy drink.[2]

The game focuses on "agile combat", including wall running, zip-lines, parkour, acrobatics and water traversal.[3] Players use grind rails to deftly navigate city streets. On-foot, players cannot run or take cover, but instead must rely on agility to survive. Players can carry up to eight weapons at once, including the standard assault rifle AK-FU, and the TNTeddy grenade launcher that fires teddy bears strapped to sticks of dynamite. All weapons eventually run out of ammunition, but do not need to be reloaded while being used. Players unlock more weapons by progressing through the story or purchasing them from shops. Weapons can be upgraded by applying "Amps" that increase their lethality. The Style Meter in the head-up display (HUD) increases as players perform stylish moves like killing enemies and grinding on-rails without touching the ground.[2]

In the online co-op mode called Chaos Squad, up to 8 players defend vats of Overcharge Delirium XT from waves of OD'd. Although they work together, players also try to earn more Style points during play than their co-op partners.[4] However, the game would not support free roam co-op at launch, but could be added to the game through a post-release expansion.[5]


On July 13, 2027, FizzCo releases their new hit energy drink, OverCharge Delirium XT, exclusive to Sunset City. FizzCo, in an attempt to sell OCD faster, skipped health regulation protocols. Unknown to FizzCo, the drink causes everyone who drinks it to turn into hungry, violent mutants known as OverCharge Drinkers, also known as the OD. FizzCo, in order to cover up their mistake, claims that a virus has broken out in Sunset City, and quarantines the whole city, preventing any entrance or exit. 17 days after the apocalypse began, the player, a FizzCo employee who works in the sanitation division, is saved from an attacking OD by Walter, a fellow survivor.

Upon learning that Walter is creating a plane, the player obtains the aid of Sam and the Oxfords, a group of rich but lazy geniuses. After multiple errands, the Oxfords are forcibly convinced to build a propeller to complete the plane. The player joins Walter in his plane to escape the city and reveal the truth about the outbreak. At the last second, Walter notices an invisible wall preventing their escape and pushes the player out of the plane, sacrificing himself.

Still planning to escape, the player aids Troop Bushido, a group of scouts living in a samurai museum, and the Fargarths, a group of larpers who now believe they're the medieval characters they played as. In thanks, the 2 groups, respectively, design and build a ship out of garbage which tricks the FizzCo sensors to allow them past. The player and some of the Fargarths almost escape when the player learns that FizzCo robots are attacking the Oxfords and Troop Bushido to kill all witnesses.

Forcing the Fargarths to turn around, the player returns to Sunset City and saves both groups. Following the battle, Sam learns that FizzCo is planning something else at their headquarters. To break in, the player gains the help of Las Catrinas, a trio of cheerleaders caring for the Children's' Ward of the hospital, who had previously broken into the offices. In the end, it is discovered that the FizzCo main office is a self-destructing building robot that is going to destroy Sunset City. The player defeats the robot and has beer with the other survivors. After the credits, Protocol X26 has been activated and FizzCo helicopters are seen being sent around the world to deliver OCD.[6]

Downloadable content plot[edit]

The Mystery of Mooil Rig[edit]

The downloadable content (DLC) mission begins with the player receiving a call from 4kim, saying that Troopmaster Bryllcream is missing. After finding parts of Bryllcream's mech, the player finds him on the beach surrounded by OD Poppers mixed with oil. After they are defeated, Bryllcream states that the Mooil rig has been compromised and that his sister is stranded. The player journeys to the rig with Bryllcream's upgraded mech suit. Along the way, they are attacked by a sea monster OD, until they reach land.

In order to signal the ship, Sam has to hack in to the boat and let the player notify the location with flame geysers, all while dealing with Oil OD and the local rig workers. After clearing the rig of OD pods and bringing the ship to land, Bryllcream's sister is saved, but it turns out she's evil and wants to use Mooil for the same purposes. A giant sea monster crushes her under its massive tentacles. To prevent the rig from being destroyed, the player defeats the sea monster with the help of Bryllcream. Bryllcream is sad for his loss, but the player tries to cheer him up in saying the thing what makes them happy. In response to this, Bryllcream flies away, leaving the player on the rig.

Development and release[edit]

Gameplay programmer Adam Noonchester and art director Jacinda Chew present on the game's development at GDC 2015

While completing work on Resistance 3 (2011), Drew Murray and Marcus Smith of Insomniac Games began brainstorming their next game. They presented their ideas to Insomniac's owners, and CEO Ted Price, envisioning a project that would borrow influences from the documentary Hyena Men of Kenya, Tank Girl comics, the novel I Am Legend and the British television series The Young Ones. The initial presentation failed to generate interest, but Murray and Smith were instead asked to come back after a week to present how the actual game would play. In their second presentation, they envisioned a game featuring fast-paced action that would be "the rock and roll end times", which, according to Smith, ignited some confusion among the team. "All of a sudden, people thought that we were making Brütal Legend," he explained. With Sunset Overdrive green-lit internally, Insomniac pitched it to a number of different publishers. Insomniac wanted to retain brand ownership, causing some to opt out of publishing. Murray and Smith traveled to Microsoft Studios a number of times to pitch the game to them. The "main pitch" began with the playing of "Kick Out the Jams" by MC5, and ended with Murray "on top of a chair, mimicking how the game was going to play, and the last minute heroics." Microsoft ultimately agreed to publish the game.[7]

Insomniac Games CEO Ted Price has said that the game's irreverence and stylization reflects the personality of the company.[3] He compared the game's humor to that of Spyro and Ratchet & Clank.[3] The style is driven by the game's story "theme of freedom and self-expression".[8] According to Smith, the game returns to Insomniac's "roots" and draws influence from Sega games like Crazy Taxi and Jet Set Radio.[9]

On the game's native 900p resolution and 30 frames per second, Price felt that the developers prioritized having more action on-screen in favor of a higher resolution.[5] When Microsoft removed Kinect from standard Xbox One bundles and let game developers access CPU power formerly reserved for the peripheral, Insomniac used the extra power for the game's physics and AI systems.[10]

The game is expected to use Microsoft's cloud computing to create a living world, where user feedback and ideas such as Internet memes, social commentary, new items, weapons, and characters can be quickly added.[8]

The game was announced during Microsoft's E3 2013 press event.[11] On 9 October 2014, Insomniac Games confirmed that the game had gone gold, indicating it was being prepared for duplication and release.[12] It was released on October 28, 2014 in North America for the Xbox One.

Sunset Overdrive is included in a white Kinect-less Xbox One bundle.[13]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 83.12%[14]
Metacritic 81/100[15]
Review scores
Publication Score
CVG 7/10[16]
Destructoid 8.5/10[17]
EGM 9/10[18]
Eurogamer 8/10[19]
Game Informer 9.25/10[20]
Game Revolution 5/5 stars[21]
GameSpot 8/10[22]
GamesRadar 4/5 stars[23]
GameTrailers 7/10[24]
Giant Bomb 4/5 stars[25]
IGN 9/10[26]
Joystiq 5/5 stars[27]
OXM (UK) 8/10 [28]
Polygon 9/10[29] 6/10[30]
Best Buy Canada 96%[31]
Digital Spy 3/5 stars[32]
Hardcore Gamer 8/10[33]
Metro 7/10[34]

Sunset Overdrive received positive reviews. It received aggregated scores of 83.12% from GameRankings based on 63 reviews[14] and 81/100 from Metacritic based on 89 reviews.[15]

Sam Prell from Joystiq gave the game a perfect score, praising its voice acting, fluid control, varied weapons, impressive range of mission types, satisfying upgrades and in-depth character customization as he described it as "king in Sunset Overdrive". He summarized the game as an experience which has successfully created a world where the apocalypse is fun instead of depressing.[27] Eric L. Patterson from Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game a 9/10, praising the well-crafted gameplay, satisfying act of movement and stylistic storytelling decisions. He also praised the multiplayer mode Chaos Squad as he stated that he found the mode more interesting and worthwhile than he originally expected. However, he found the muliplayer aspect of the game disappointing, mainly due to lack of other game mode beside Chaos Squad. He summarized the game as "fun, interesting and engrossing experience" and he considered Sunset Overdrive as "one of the most enjoyable games I have played so far this generation."[18] Andrew Reiner from Game Informer gave the game a 9.25/10, praising its fun, lighthearted action, great protagonist’s animations and respawn sequences, excellent gunplay, high replay value, entertaining humor and highly detailed environment, but criticizing the occasionally tedious missions, as well as the non-engaging multiplayer. He described the game as "an immensely rewarding experience that has a look and style all its own and a great gameplay package to complement it" and "a colorful return to form for Insomniac games, and a hell of an exclusive for Xbox One."[20] Chris Carter from Destructoid gave the game a 8.5/10, praising its vibrant visuals, huge amount of customization, excellent free-movement system, which he added that it may take time for players to get used to. However, he criticized the disappointing story, as well as the lack of an engaging narrative.[17] Lucas Sullivan from GamesRadar gave the game a 4/5, praising the vibrant graphics, but criticizing the trap-based defense missions which feel entirely needless, as well as some hit-or-miss moments of sophomoric humor.[23] Peter Brown from GameSpot gave the game a 8/10, praising the convincing and entertaining voice acting, empowering mobility, wide variety of challenges, unique art style, as well as solid frame rate, which remain uncharged even with all the action on screen, but criticizing the non-scale-based difficulty of the multiplayer, as well as repetitive mission design at the beginning of the game. However, he still summarized the game as "one of the best games on the Xbox One, and a refreshing shot of merriment."[22] Ben Moore from GameTrailers gave the game a 7/10, praising the satisfying movement, creative weaponry, but criticizing the flat and predictable humor, undercooked characters, thin plot, and poor presentation in term of story, as well as non-challenging gameplay.[24] Leon Hurley from Computer and Video Games gave the game a 7/10. He praised the limitless and enjoyable movement, as well as the relentless comedy, but criticized the overly complex upgrade system and the exhausting and tiring gameplay. He described the game as "an energetic and different shooter that can occasionally be too loud for its own good."[16]

Awards and nominations[edit]

List of awards and nominations for Sunset Overdrive
Year Award Category Recipient Ref.
2014 IGN's Best of E3 2014 Awards Best Xbox One Game Won [35]
Best Action/Adventure Game Nominated [35]
Best Trailer Nominated [35]
Best Original Game Nominated [35]
2014's Game Critics Awards Best Original Game Nominated [36]
Best Action/Adventure Game Nominated [36]
32nd Golden Joystick Awards Most Wanted Nominated [37]
IGN's Gamescom 2014 Awards Best Console Game Microsoft Xbox Nominated [38]
The Game Awards 2014 Best Score/Soundtrack Nominated [39]
Best Action/Adventure Game Nominated [39]
Hardcore Gamer's Best of 2014 Best Xbox One Game Won [40]
Best Artistic Design Nominated [41]
Best New IP Nominated [42]
2014's Dark Horse Nominated [42]
Best New Character (Fizzie) Nominated [43]
Best Action Game Nominated [44]
Game Revolution's Best of 2014 Game of the Year Nominated [45]
Best Developer (Insomniac Games) Nominated [46]
Best Xbox Console Exclusive Won [47]
GameTrailers' Best of 2014 Awards Best Xbox Exclusive Nominated [48]
Destructoid's Best of 2014 Best World Design Nominated [49]
Best Game Mechanics Nominated [50]
IGN's Best of 2014 Best Action-Adventure Nominated [51]
Best Overall Game Nominated [51]
Best Xbox One Game Won [51]
Most Humorous Nominated [51]
IGN AU Black Beta Select Awards Best Visual Design Nominated [52]
Best Original Game Won
Best Console Game Nominated
Overall Game of the Year Nominated


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External links[edit]