SUGAR THRILL GANG

EDGE - - PLAY -

Mul­ti­player mode Chaos Squad is ac­cessed from any phone booth in Sun­set City. Here, you and up to seven oth­ers en­gage in a se­ries of col­lab­o­ra­tive and com­pet­i­tive chal­lenges, vot­ing be­tween two op­tions each time: you might as­sault a scav­enger fort as a team, or jos­tle for sup­ply drops to trans­port to a nearby boat. Com­plet­ing bonus ob­jec­tives boosts your com­bined score, and con­trib­utes to a more sub­stan­tial buff for the con­clud­ing night de­fence se­quence, in which it’s all but im­pos­si­ble to main­tain com­po­sure amid the tu­mult. With a full com­ple­ment, that’s eight times the ex­plo­sives, fire­works and cor­ro­sive goop of the al­ready hec­tic cam­paign. But it’s an en­ter­tain­ing mess, and a use­ful one: any­thing you earn or un­lock can be taken back and used in sin­gle­player. a surreal remix of Su­per Mario Sun­shine’s Mecha Bowser face-off, while another set-piece sees you at­tempt­ing to keep up with a dragon as it snakes through the city. It might still have a weak point that re­quires three di­rect hits to bring the beast down, but it’s re­fresh­ing to face an en­emy where you’re not sim­ply hav­ing to dodge pre­dictable at­tack pat­terns be­fore clamp­ing your trig­ger fin­ger over the fire but­ton.

And if the scat­ter­gun hu­mour misses as of­ten as it hits – typ­i­cally, the harder it strains for the zeit­geist, the wider it is of the mark – the game’s ir­rev­er­ent treat­ment of death al­le­vi­ates any frus­tra­tion at re­peated fail­ures. After a short load­ing time, you’ll res­pawn in one of a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ways, emerg­ing from a clay mould or a sar­coph­a­gus, or even climb­ing out of a TV like Sadako from Ring. The down­side to this is that there’s lit­tle sense of peril when you’ve got so lit­tle to lose; in­deed, with gen­er­ous check­point­ing that means you’ll emerge hav­ing lost seconds rather than min­utes of progress, it’s of­ten eas­ier to just let your­self die when you’re low on health rather than strug­gle on with a flash­ing red dis­trac­tion in the top left of the screen.

Such ob­vi­ous ea­ger­ness to please is laud­able in some re­spects, but the in­sis­tent fer­vour with which In­som­niac bom­bards the player – with colours, with ideas, with pick­ups and powerups and buffs and bonuses – means Sun­set Over­drive is best ap­proached as you would any caf­feinated en­ergy drink. In small gulps, it of­fers an ex­hil­a­rat­ing sugar rush, but too much will leave you with a headache. As such, it’s best con­sumed in mod­er­a­tion.

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