Hind-Sight: Sunset Overdrive

For those of you logging in hours on your Xbox One, you may have run across the name Sunset Overdrive in recent weeks. It’s certainly an odd game at first glance – bright colors, zany world design, super human abilities, and a general lightheartedness encompassing the game as a whole. For those of you that enjoy games for their story, this one is definitely not for you. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth playing. The game has some great aspects to it – most notably, its approach to the game itself.

If pressed to describe the game, I’d have to say that it’s a mix between the early Devil May Crys, and Deadpool. Just like the earlier editions of the Devil May Cry series, the main focus of the game is to hop around the map, beating on enemies with serious style, and generally racking up points while looking pretty fly, for a white guy (or girl of you’re going for that type of character). That, however, is the only solid link between the games. Unlike the DMC series, the game is not supposed to be taken seriously in the least.
Between the meta-narration that’s privy to the character (such as in the Deadpool game) – to their confusion – and the naming of weapons, among other things, this game does what most games try to avoid: admitting they’re game. For the most part, games try to immerse players with intricate, heart string pulling stories or have them feel invested in a character by allowing them to construct them from the ground up. No matter what the method, the developers can say they’ve done their job when you forget that it’s just a game and it take on a life of its own. And this is where the game deviates.
During no point while playing do the makers want you to forget you’re playing a game. They bring it up while teaching you the tutorial and poke fun at it throughout the rest of the game, and it’s all to a greater purpose. Now, arcade-like, point focused games like this one are a dime a dozen. So, understandably, it’s difficult to make one stand out amongst its competitors – even when it is a big name game such as this one. However, it’s incredibly rare to find a game that doesn’t just hint at meta-gaming (that gimmick is common enough), but to embrace it. What better way to make a light-hearted game even more casual then to admit it’s a game?
By doing so, they remove the time investment some game – The Walking, Dead Shadow of Mordor, Skyrim – innately demand once you start playing. This both welcomes casual gamers (that may be put off by such time requirements) and replayability for reasons to pick it up. Think about it. There’s no long slog to feel powerful within the game – you start out super-human (without much explanation as to why). The plot is basic, to the point of it being nearly unnecessary. And recorded scores just beg to be broken later down the road when you’re sick of trying to level your character up to handle a basic quest, or trying to unravel an overly complex plot.
So, if school or work keep you too busy to play as much as you would like, or you remember the good old days of score battles with your friends, then this game is certainly something you ought to check out. Also, if you do find you enjoy the game, be sure to be on the lookout for an upcoming article on the developing team behind this game – Insomniac Games.