Skip to main content

Sunset Overdrive was originally "the Insomniac version of DayZ"

And what exactly is up with that name?

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Sunset Overdrive is Insomniac Games' offbeat, high-tempo take on the post-apocalyptic open-world shooter that's set for release on Xbox One later this year.

Its focus is on slick traversal, fast-paced combat and "having fun in the end times" but while its identity is nailed-on now, Insomniac initially spent time going down a very different route.

"A lot happened before we pitched it internally," game director and co-creator, Drew Murray, revealed during a recent studio tour. "The game genesis was really just a casual lunch conversation of 'if you could make any game what would you make?'

"We started talking about the book of I Am Legend and the day/night cycle; going out scavenging during the day and holing-up at night. We were really just kind of bullshitting about it really.

"The original idea, if we'd gone with that to its logical conclusion, would have just ended up as the Insomniac version of DayZ."

Work on Sunset Overdrive started shortly after Resistance 3 was release in 2011, several months before Dean Hall's phenomenally successful DayZ mod started to take its first, shambling steps toward mass popularity. At the time, the game's unusual title had thematic links to its proposed concept but as Insomniac broadened its scope, some questioned the relevance of its name and whether it was still appropriate.

"We actually had some little wrestles with Microsoft because a number of people there felt that way," Murray said. "Sunset Overdrive the name came first; Marcus [Smith, co-creative director] conjured it from a fevered dream. "Earlier on we were doing this day/night cycle with set times for day and night and we were like 'things will be changing at sunset and sunrise', so there's actually an earlier manifestation of the game in there."

Smith added that despite the change of focus, the name endured. "We'd always pitched it with that name, from really early on. Once we went from being more realistic to more stylised the name still felt like it made sense.

"It has that 70s grindhouse feel, with 'overdrive' as a very hyperbolic and oft misused term, and Sunset being a transitional period. I still love it because it's so different."

Insomniac Games' Xbox-exclusive open-world shooter is expected later this year and while it will feature an online multiplayer component it will also support an offline campaign, too.

This article was based on a press trip to Insomniac's offices in Burbank, California. Microsoft paid for travel and accommodation.

Read this next