E3 2014: Sunset Overdrive is the Zombie Apocalypse We’ve All Wanted

In the back of our minds, we all wish the zombie apocalypse would occur in one form or another. Societal restrictions become forfeit. Everything becomes a potential weapon. And we actually have the time and freedom to hide out in the local Costco and make a fort in the candy section.

In reality, the zombie apocalypse would probably end up something more like the Walking Dead where your love ones perish, your faithful horse gets ripped apart limb from limb and then your heart finally gets devoured both figuratively and literally. It’s not all sunshine and sprinkles… unless it’s an apocalypse caused by a neon-colored energy drink.

Insomniac Games' over-the-shoulder shooter, Sunset Overdrive, changes up the typical viral outbreak into something a little more colorful. It’s the year 2027, and an energy drink called Overcharge Delirium XT rushes its way through FDA regulations just in time to turn everyone in Sunset City into bright orange mutants.

While the game houses a single-player mode filled with fantastical levels and the ability to upgrade your character’s abilities and weapons through “amps,” the E3 demo focused on a game called Night Defense, part of the Chaos Squad (opens in new tab) multiplayer mode. Chaos Squad allows up to eight players to participate in co-op insanity. It can be entered at any point during single-player campaign (simply by entering a phone booth), and also carries your character’s upgrades into the multiplayer.

While the multiplayer has two rounds, it ends in a game called Night Defense, which acts like an absurdly fast-paced tower defense. At the start of the game players are directed to protect a container of Overcharge Delirium from incoming hordes of mutants. These waves progress in difficulty and also introduce the various types of mutants within the game, including Poppers which explode on impact, and the massive Herkers that act as mini-bosses during the final two waves of enemies.

Initially, I thought I would stand guard by the containers—but I quickly realized that this was not how Insomniac intended for the game to be played. Sunset Overdrive fuels itself on ridiculous and belligerent action, and within seconds I found myself bouncing around the map, grinding across every possible surface, and firing pastel-colored vinyl records to decapitate my foes. It was impossible to stop moving… and I never wanted to.

To make the action in the game even more enhanced is the arsenal of weapons that accompany it. I went from firing a vinyl record gun at the lay mutants to shooting fireworks that exploded into gorgeous green dragons to take down Herkers. There are also various forms of rocket launchers, machine guns, and traps that can be strategically laid around the map.

Sunset Overdrive had me at the concept of a vinyl record gun, but as soon as I got into the gameplay it quickly became one of my favorite titles at E3. Insomniac isn’t scared to sacrifice sanity for fun, and that should pay off when the game releases on the Xbox One on October 28th.

Katy Goodman is a freelance writer and graduate student in English. When she isn’t busy training birds of prey, horses, or freshman composition students, she can be found playing video games or climbing trees. She also really likes grilled cheese. Follow her on Twitter @InvizzyB or on her blog, Pixel Hearts.