What would you do if all your friends were turned into slavering, gnarly mutants? If you answered, “Well, most of them already are,” then I can’t help you here. But if you said, “I’d run for the hills while fighting for my life with every makeshift weapon I could lay my hands on,” well, then you’re ready to read this review of Sunset Overdrive.
Trying Not to OD on the Delirious Details
The game’s apocalyptic tale takes place in the near future when a greedy corporation called FizzCo releases its newest big-buzz energy drink, OverCharge Delirium XT, at an exclusive event in Sunset City. The only problem is that the drinkmakers skipped a few product testing steps and health regulations in an attempt to get their latest moneymaker to market expeditiously. And the result is that anybody who slugs back a can of the stuff instantly turns into a mindless monstrosity covered in twisted muscular flesh and large toxic blisters.
Because that’s exactly what always happens in these kinds of situations.
Thousands of OverCharge Drinkers, known as OD, soon swarm the city. The whole place is then deviously quarantined and walled off by the mega-powerful FizzCo in an effort to keep their big “oops” out of the public eye. So it’s up to your unnamed male or female avatar to work with the few remaining good-humans, fight off militant bad-human “scabs,” destroy the various OD, and finally find a way to exit this devastated open sandbox of a city.
Comedy, Color and Quirky Carnage
A torrent of self-aware giggle-gags and rat-a-tat one-liners are on the front lines of this skirmish—some quirky and clean, others crass and crude. But don’t think any of them are sly. This game has all the subtlety of an atomic explosion in a crayon factory. Sunset Overdrive is loud, fast, and it bursts with color at every turn—from guns that spit out a barrage of fireworks-like blasts to multihued graffitied city streets to mutant foes that explode in a gush of neon goop.
The majority of the play is focused on keeping you in constant, adrenaline-laced movement. Earning rewards for always speeding forward with abandon and never letting your digital soles linger or loaf prompts you to bounce off the bushes and café umbrellas, air vents and car roofs. You grind along fence tops and power lines, doing triple flips with the grace of a gymnastic pro. All the while, peculiar quests demand that you splash the scenery with an abundance of monster goo, robot lubricant and human gore through use of an arsenal of outlandish weapons.
Beyond the straightforward handguns and shotguns there are handheld launchers that shoot out a rapid-fire blaze of ricocheting vinyl records, for example. Other gadgets lay down freeze bombs, or spread fire bursts or corrosive acid sprinkles. If you need a little extra oomph, there’s a rifle that chucks a cascade of teddy bears … stuffed with explosives.
Filtered … But Not Fizz-Funk Free
This M-rated rager does have filters that can be applied, taking away some of the messy spew during kills and blasting out bleeps at the same time as the foul language—that normally includes a steady stream of f- and s-words along with uses of “b–ch,” “h—,” “b–tard,” “d–n” and “a–.” Using those filters can turn the game into something closer to a frantic T-rated blaster. But they don’t clean up Sunset City entirely.
Even with the blocks and barriers in place, there are still numerous sexual winks in the visuals and dialogue, including discussions of porn. Young characters still talk about—and in some cases praise—casual alcohol consumption and narcotics use. A guy shows up with no arms or legs … because he had to eat them to survive.
You can run around nearly naked, clothed just in the briefest of underwear. And in one case, whether you play as a guy or a gal, you’re forced to strip down and be covered with blood-sucking leeches. Speaking of blood, if the gamemakers had allowed us to filter out all of the trigger pulling, death dealing and “colorful” dismemberment, well, it would’ve been sunset time for them. There simply wouldn’t be any game left to play.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.