When I think about exclusives on the Xbox One, I put them into two categories: pre-Play Anywhere and post-Play Anywhere. Post-Play Anywhere means I can play Xbox One “exclusives” on my PC, but the Pre-Play Anywhere games are ones I am not so lucky with. Fortunately, those games are getting old to a point where some of them are being brought over to other platforms, which means the pool of true Xbox One exclusives is sinking. Of all the pre-Play Anywhere exclusives out there, the one I wanted the most was Sunset Overdrive. That want is now a have, and that have is now a review. This is Sunset Overdrive, and it’s time to survive the apocalypse in style.
Sunset Overdrive is a third-person open-world game that has the player trapped in the fictional Sunset City where an accident happened. Fizzco, a large company that makes energy drinks, is releasing a new drink called Overcharge. To celebrate the launch, they throw a party in Sunset City and invite residents to try the new drink. You are a janitor at this party, doing your work and minding your business when you notice the party goers act strange. As it turns out, the drink turns people into mutants, and the whole city goes into chaos. Despite it being an accident, Fizzco wants to cover up the incident, and do so by locking everyone into the city. This leaves you locked in a city full of mutants, looters, and Fizzco robots trying to wipe out “evidence.” What could possibly go wrong?
I might as well start with the most obvious part of the game: its style. And man, what a style it is. Sunset Overdrive is a mixture between punk rock and comic book, and I love every bit of it. Its visuals are vibrant and fun, its attitude matches the visuals, the music is solid, and more. What I think really takes the cake both for its style and for the game as a whole is its writing. This game has some of the best writing I have ever experienced in any game. The fourth wall breaks are brilliant yet never felt overplayed, the humor works surprisingly well considering I never really find humor in video games to be all that funny, and various references from many different pieces of media can be found whether through movie quotes or respawn animations, and I love all of it. I didn’t expect the writing to be my favorite part of this game, but after hearing a Silence of the Lambs quote and your character thanking developers for not spawning him/her at the bottom of the level, I just knew something was up.
In terms of its story, I think it is serviceable. I really like the characters and the factions that surround the area, but I think the story that plays out is pretty basic. You run around helping various people and make various new friends, until you all need to team up to stop the big baddie. When it comes to the non-gameplay aspects of this game, I was honestly having more fun with its writing than with its story elements, which led to me not really paying attention to the story that much. The story isn’t bad, but its about what you expect.
Gameplay, on the other hand, proved to be a lot of fun. The first thing that came to mind with the gameplay is how solid the traversal mechanics are. This game emphasize some pretty wacky parkour by grinding on rails and power lines, wall running, sliding over water, bouncing on pretty much everything except the ground, and more. The traversal mechanics in this game are simple and cartoonish, yet work really well, and it wasn’t long until I was going as fast as a car. The parkour in this game is so much fun, I actually stopped fast travelling just to do more parkour. Traversal is a big part of this game, and I am glad that they nailed it.
The other thing that comes to mind is how much customization is available for your character. Whether it be through the clothing items, the vast artillery of wacky weapons (my favorite being a bowling ball launcher called ‘The Dude’), traps used for tower defense, and skills that can swapped in and out: Sunset Overdrive has something for everybody (except slow people).
When it comes to the rest of the gameplay, however, things can be a bit more hit-or-miss. While I did enjoy the variety of the world, I found it to be a rather small map considering the primary focus of the game is traversing at relatively fast speeds. Speaking of short, I found the campaign to be pretty short as well. It isn’t crazy short or anything like that, but I was a bit surprised to see myself watching the credits so soon. Boss fights can be found throughout the game; and while they are fun and creative, I found them to be too easy to be any real hassle. The game is also littered with tower defense missions, which proved to be okay at best. Gameplay can be a questionable thing throughout the game, but what about after beating the campaign?
When the credits finally roll on an open world game, the first question that comes to mind for me is what I can do after the end. Unfortunately, this is where I think the game falls flat. It’s not that there is a lack of content, it’s that the content available feels mediocre. After beating the game, you get access to what I assume are the two pieces of DLC for the game. They bring in new areas to the map and are pretty fun to play through, but are short enough to do both in one playthrough. Other than that, the post-ending content includes picking up collectibles, doing any side quests you haven’t finished, and challenges. You could work on leveling up weapons and skills, but by that point I don’t think it’s worth it. The side quests are fun, but only finite, the challenges are plentiful but only okay, and collectibles are used to make things I don’t need anymore. The cherry on top of it all is that the percentage completion isn’t well shown. It shows completion for some things, but not all. I had a lot of fun goofing around the area doing various activities, but after that point I found very little motivation to go back into Sunset City.
In conclusion, I think Sunset Overdrive is a blast. The writing is top-notch and actually pretty damn funny, the style of the game is vibrant and wonderful, the gameplay is a lot of fun and works well, and more. The game does falter here-and-there with things like the post-ending content, boss fights, tower defense missions, and overall size of the game; but what is there is still a lot of fun. This was the last game from the Xbox One that I wanted to play, and I am glad that I did.