So here’s what I want to ask whoever put the Sunset Overdrive launch trailer together: where’s the sunset?
First it’s nighttime, then it’s daytime, then you get a few seconds of post-sunset skyline while the protagonist gets all motivational-speaky. But the action takes place midday. Look at that cerulean blue sky! Look at all those fat cottony clouds! ELO would approve!
But the overdrive angle…that’s hard to miss. This is a game about the opposite of narrative gravitas. You’re the former employee of a soda-maker that’s released an energy drink that turns people into slavering super-powered mutant bad guys. Your job is to grind around a carnivalesque sandbox and do goofy, epic battle with (flying?) worms, robots, sac-covered troll-things and giant floating dolls.
Sunset Overdrive is one of Microsoft’s two holiday Xbox One-exclusive pillars, the other being that thing about a military cipher who fights tittering aliens still, in 2014, more behaviorally interesting than the ones the studio that created said military fellow more recently introduced.
Studio Insomniac Games has a respectable design track record with this sort of thing. The ups and downs of the later Resistance games aside, the Ratchet & Clank series is terrific. Sunset Overdrive looks like a punk version of the latter, a third-person gonzo playscape: Tony Hawk meets Tank Girl meets Sam Raimi. (Is it me, or does the protagonist look a little like teenage Bruce Campbell?) If you’re a game aficionado, Insomniac’s also name-dropped Crazy Taxi and Jet Set Radio as inspirations.
Microsoft claims the game “rewrites the rules of traditional shooters.” We’ll see, when the game arrives next Tuesday, October 28.