Insomniac Games has been gaining quite a buzz in the comic book industry since it was announced last year that it would be producing a new Spider-Man game for PlayStation 4. But, believe it or not, the studio has built up quite a reputation long before the web-slinger came along.
The studio was founded with just a handful of employees back in 1994, under the creation of Ted Price, who’s still with the team today. It was initially founded under the name “Xtreme Software,” though that would change to the more familiar Insomniac moniker just a year later.
The team began work on its first title for Universal Interactive Studios for the original PlayStation, Disruptor. Since that time, however, it’s garnered the attention of Sony themselves, working on a number of franchises over the years that would become mainstays with the company. But Insomniac also found time to do some interesting side projects, including one of the Xbox One’s most innovative open-world games, Sunset Overdrive.
Before we swing into action with Spider-Man, let’s take a look back at some of the best games from this studio!
The Sony PlayStation didn’t have a lot of first-person shooters going for it when it initially released, but Insomniac made a great name for itself with Disruptor, an entertaining shooter where you take on a number of robotic forces, using a variety of weapons available within the base. Though the game is primitive by today’s standards, it became quite the sleeper hit back in 1996, and helped Insomniac get the attention it needed from Sony to work on a fresh new franchise just a couple of years later. And what a franchise it was, helping cement Sony’s success within the PlayStation era.
With Spyro, Sony proved it wasn’t just a one-hit wonder with the Crash franchise, creating a beautiful, open-world adventure with a charming lead hero – a young fire-breathing dragon – and packing enough entertaining gameplay for players to keep coming back to. The series continued for two more sequels before Insomniac moved on to another franchise, though a few other Spyro titles released from Activision and Sierra over the years, with the last one resulting in the creation of the best-selling Skylanders series. What we wouldn’t give to see Spyro come back with a high-definition collection on PS4.
With the move onto PlayStation 2, Insomniac Games decided to try something different – an outer space adventure featuring a brave, wrench-carrying Lombax, and his little robot buddy. Ratchet & Clank immediately became the stuff of legend, and inspired a handful of sequels that released for both the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3. After a couple of years off to work on Sunset Overdrive, the team returned to recreate Ratchet & Clank for the PlayStation 4 in 2016 – and it became one of Sony’s biggest hits for the year.
Oh, and there was a movie as well, featuring the voice talents of Paul Giamatti and Sylvester Stallone. You can check it out on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital now.
Insomniac wanted to prove it wasn’t all about “kiddie” games in its repertoire. So, with the release of the PlayStation 3 console, it produced the gritty first-person shooter Resistance: Fall of Man, which took an alternate path down the typical World War II storyline, with the world becoming overrun by sinister alien forces. As Sergeant Nathan Hale, it was your job to push the opposition back, using a number of incredible alien weapons.
The series continued two years later with the critically acclaimed Resistance 2, which features one of the most shocking endings in video game history; and Resistance 3, which introduced a new protagonist into the fold as humans continued to push against the Chimera. This series could be due for a comeback on PS4, but we understand if Insomniac’s a bit busy these days.
After working with Sony for several years, Insomniac Games opted to do something different, pairing up with Electronic Arts for a ridiculously fun co-op supported shooter called Fuse. In the game, you play as one of four soldiers, each with their own specialized weaponry and defensive tools, as you attempt to save the day. The game did a good job creating cooperative-style play, though it didn’t sell as well as Electronic Arts intended. Nevertheless, Insomniac Games moved on to its next project, which brought in an even bigger publishing partner. Not to mention moving it over to a new platform to shine on...
When Microsoft announced that it was pairing up with Insomniac to produce the epic open-world adventure Sunset Overdrive, many players were shocked – especially PlayStation owners. But the team-up proved to be a very positive one, as the game, which has you fighting against mutants that are created by an over-powerful energy drink, ended up being a terrific showcase piece for the system. Not only that, its wide variety of missions and over-the-top attitude earned Insomniac some new fans as well. You can find a copy for pretty cheap as well, going for around $10 or so. Worth every penny.
In addition to working on a number of familiar (and new) franchises, Insomniac also tinkered away at other side projects, including the following:
Outernauts – this mobile and Facebook based game features a wide amount of strategy, built within a fun, original universe.
Edge of Nowhere – Oculus hired on Insomniac to create a riveting, snow-filled adventure for its Oculus Rift – and it ended up being one of its most inspired games to date.
Song of the Deep – Insomniac dug back into its old-school roots for this Metroidvania-style underwater adventure, where players dig for treasure and take on enemies through a mini-sub. This one’s got a great story, and is well worth checking out.
Finally, we come to the classic web-slinger, whose latest adventure looks like the most ambitious project from the team to date. Spider-Man promises to be a massive open-world adventure, following an original storyline that deviates from other Spidey games, while at the same time offering plenty of unique aspects to the gameplay, as well as fantastic visuals and a fun comic-book vibe. What’s more, Insomniac has the full support of both Marvel and Sony, which means this could be one of next year’s biggest comic book titles. We’ll certainly take it for a…swing.
And that’s Insomniac’s history in a nutshell. It’s been a fun ride, and it’s far from over!