Insomniac Games was hush-hush about their latest project at last year’s E3, showing off nothing more than a gorgeous trailer.
This year after the E3 press conferences, The Game Fanatics caught up with some Sunset Overdrive’s Creative Director, Marcus Smith, and Lead Designer, Drew Murray, who spent some time giving us some insight Insomniac’s first open-world adventure.
In talking with us about Sunset Overdrive, Marcus told us the three cardinal rules that played a role in the development process of Sunset Overdrive:
1. Fun in the end times. With so many post-apocalyptic movies, games, and tales in general, being rather humdrum, Insomniac took a more interesting approach. Vibrant colors and a rich art style, insane weapons, a thrilling traversal system, all bound together by c-c-combos!
2. Be who you want to be. This particular rule was inspired by Marcus’s daughter, who, he said, if you let her would dress up as a Disney princess every day. This led him to think, what if social norms and the idea of acceptance went out the window? Thus, Sunset Overdrive will have one of the most robust character creation features of any next-gen game yet.
3. Major McFuckups. Did you know that almost everything we buy and consume can be whittled down to the sum of around 10 companies? That’s the idea behind the third rule. It only takes one person to mess up in a minor way, which leads to a gigantic ripple effect that brings on the end of civilization. It’s scary because it’s a reality.
The single player story of Sunset Overdrive is set up in a quite straightforward, art-imitating-life kind of way. In beautiful Sunset City, your character is working a job promoting FizzCo’s Overcharge Delirium XL, an energy soda drink. He doesn’t get to drink the product himself, and being an outcast and straying from popular trends that surround him, he didn’t even want to—a motive that worked heavily into his favor.
[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”Marcus Smith; Creative Director, Insomniac Games”]”One man’s apocalypse is another man’s awesomepocalypse.” [/blockquote]
The ingredients embedded in these drinks were filled with viruses that turned the majority of humans into monster-like mutated beings that roamed aggressively and aimlessly, destroying everything in their path. Using a wide amount of unorthodox guns and weapons, it’s up to your character to have fun blasting away at your OD’d enemies while staying immersed in a brightly colored, comic book world full of factions, giant bosses and over-the-top locations.
Inspired by movies like I Am Legend and The Omega Man, Smith noted that Insomniac approached the game with the earlier-mentioned three rules in mind. Everything in the game is a parody of what is seen in the past. Using clever adaptations of what one may usually find in a zombie infested plotline, Sunset Overdrive mercilessly pokes the genre with the stick of crude, adulterated humor.
Murray says that the second rule is the most important element to the single player campaign mode, seeing as how the idea’s conception started with Smith’s daughter. Your player can be customizable from the feet to the head. Clothes, skin color, makeup, hair style and other visual attributes is what will make you stick out from them rest when players decide to switch from the Single player mode to the online multiplayer, a transition that can be done quite seamlessly with no lag or loading screen.
Sunset Overdrive is all about looking at a third person shooter from a different perspective in terms of strategy. There are tall buildings, monuments, concession stands, merry-go-rounds, table shades and plenty more platforms that are all leveled high off the ground. Staying on top of these platforms means staying on top of enemies, but players must keep moving. According to Murray, monsters in Sunset City will force players to keep the movement consistent as possible.
Thankfully, staying with the mobility will be easy and fluid. The demo showed off instances where characters will be able to jump, swing, bounce and grind all through different types of obstacles, which can collaboratively build up the character’s Style meter indicated on the upper right of the screen. The more crazy flips, jumps, bounces and kills you make while going in full Ninja Warrior parkour mode, the higher the score on the Style meter.
[blockquote cite=”Drew Murray; Lead Designer, Insomniac Games”]“Sunset Overdrive is all about aggression and momentum. The ground isn’t a safe place to be, so when people play the game, they’re going to have to take risks and play aggressively in order to defeat enemies.”[/blockquote]
There are 5 different types of baddies that roam manically in Sunset City. In addition the OD’s mutated humans, you have Poppers who charge toward you and explode upon impact. Herkers are giants with massive digger arms that able to grab large things in the environment to lunge them toward your direction and are able to move around quickly. Blowers, given the name, shoot out mucky puss and Scabs are survivors that are out to kill you anyway.
Chaos Squad in Sunset Overdrive makes switching from single-player to multiplayer back and forth a real treat to experience. By either taking a picture of your self with your phone or stepping inside the photo booth, players and their created characters will quickly switch over to the online experience.
[blockquote cite=”Drew Murray; Lead Designer, Insomniac Games”]”In Sunset Overdrive, fun trumps realism. To ensure this, we challenged our mission designers to surprise us and considering that this is an open world game, we wanted traversal in SO to feel very connected.” [/blockquote]
Online mode includes up to 8 players taking part in a co-op missions that mostly consist of engaging with hoards of enemies and each round lasts from 20 to 25 minutes. Players will have to utilize every skill they’ve learned in the single player and apply them to the co-op missions, as everyone in the lobby will be competing for the most point with their style meter. Score big enough, and you can take that score back to your single player game, where you’ll be able to trade them in for weapon and ability upgrades that help further your story progress.
The trick to the multiplayer mode is that all the enemies are tougher than what players will get used to facing in their own game and each round will end with all players in the squad team defending a base area. Just imagine an army of Herkers charging forward to demolish your homefront. This makes the style meter and staying above ground most essential to your strategy towards dominance over the OD’d mutants.
The mission behind creating Sunset Overdrive is delivering a message. In the midst of all the crude jokes and chaotic slaying of mutants, Insomniac Games wanted to capture the essence the potential harms of today’s food industry under the control of very few companies and that it won’t be long before the ripple effect starts coming into play. In SO, FizzCo threw billions of dollars for advertising the Overcharge Delirium XL brand despite it’s hazardous complications that can be inflicted on a person who drinks it constantly, which is quite similar to Coca-Cola and the Pepsi company have already done for it’s bevy lineup of beverages.
Insomniac plans to release Sunset Overdrive exclusively on the Xbox One on Oct. 28. There are still some more questions to be answered such as whether or not we’ll be able to play as female gender types and how the main story will balance between fun and the serious tones that aim to strike hard into the overall message of junk foods and the impact it has on on society.
And just in case you missed it….
Sunset Overdrive Trailer – E3 2014