ATTENTION: The year 2014 has concluded its temporal self-destruct sequence. If you are among the escapees, please join us in salvaging and preserving the best games from the irradiated chrono-debris.
That's all the story given in the first few minutes of Sunset Overdrive, but it's all you need. This isn't some somber, dragon-infested role-playing epic, nor is it the latest dour, paint-by-numbers futuristic military shooter. Instead, Sunset Overdrive is a vibrant rainbow smile; a game made by people who want you to share in their glee. Sunset Overdrive is an explosion of giddy rebellion in an industry obsessed with the stereotypical teenage boy's grim, overwrought idea of what's cool.
While it does feature busty women, copious swears and building-sized explosions alongside the sort of mission-rich sandbox environment that's grown so popular over the past console generation, Sunset Overdrive is set apart from its big budget brethren by a palpable sense of fun. Whether you're grinding telephone wires, shooting mutants or launching bowling balls at a giant squid, Sunset Overdrive never loses its infectious grin.
From a pure numbers standpoint, the Sunset Overdrive arsenal leaves much to be desired. However, the game's strength lies not in how many guns it offers, but in what you can do with those guns. Launching explosive teddy bears is neat, but by adding a certain Amp to the weapon, you can transform what was effectively a grenade launcher into a man-portable nuclear cannon. Or maybe you'd prefer the Amp that drops lightning bolts at random on nearby enemies, or the one that turns corpses into schools of deadly piranha. The sheer number of Amps available lends Sunset Overdrive a novelty rarely seen in single-player games, but it also adds immense variety to the frantic multiplayer Chaos Squad mode.
Beyond the mechanics, beyond its thoughtfully crafted weapons and multiplayer gameplay, Sunset Overdrive succeeds not because it's a great game, but because it's a great game that achieves greatness the hard way. Instead of relying on tired memes to make players smile, Sunset Overdrive punches through the fourth wall with a postmodern quest to collect quest markers. Instead of relying on new graphics technology to carry its pretty world, Sunset Overdrive boasts stylish, colorful art design. Even its character customization system is overflowing with far more options than you normally see. There's just so much attention paid to every aspect of Sunset Overdrive's design that it's apparent the game was a labor of love for its developers. If Insomniac were to vanish tomorrow, Sunset Overdrive would ensure the studio a sterling legacy.