There were certain titles that released in the 90s that re-invented what violence could mean in a video game. Whilst games like Grand Theft Auto, Carmageddon, and Mortal Kombat are most prominent in this regard, there’s another name that is synonymous with bloody meaningless violence in the video game landscape: Postal.
Now, over twenty-three years on from its initial release on PC, it has finally made its debut on consoles (or the Nintendo Switch to be exact) in the form of Postal Redux, which brings with it fresh high-resolution visuals and revamped gameplay. Is it actually any good though or is this a case of shock value over quality?
If you’re hoping for a deep and meaningful reason for the violence that features in Postal Redux, you’re out of luck. You take on the role of a VERY angry man who finds himself evicted from his home… poor guy. Worse yet, it turns out that the United States Air Force have also released a toxic gas into his hometown and only HE is unaffected. I guess the only solution is to… uh… kill everyone in his path on his way to confronting the higher ups at the Air Base, then.
This massacre is played out through twin-stick shooting action, with the player armed with an array of weaponry that they find in their surroundings to slaughter just about anyone in their path (including the poor innocent folk that are trying to get away). There’s no room for mercy here, with your hostile targets also quite happy to shoot back at you – fortunately, there are plenty of health packs around to ensure you can survive the rampage. With levels full of extras to add to your arsenal, explosives to help you dish out more destruction, and places to take cover, it’s all about moving around, picking your moments to strike, and surviving until you’ve killed enough enemies to move on to the next level.
In many ways, it plays like just about any other twin-stick shooter that is released these days. However, there’s something about Postal Redux that still manages to make it feel dated in design. The level design itself is simple and lacks a meaningful sense of exploration, the controls can be a little inconstant and never feel completely accurate, whilst the enemies don’t bring anything to the genre that you wouldn’t have seen before. Sure, they bring more explosive weaponry to the fray as you progress that can make the experience a bit more difficult, but there’s nothing unique here that you wouldn’t have seen before.
This can be forgiven a little when you consider that the game was initially released in 1997, but it does bring forth the question of why you should bother investing in the game since there are so many better modern alternatives available on the Nintendo Switch at the moment. It’s not as if the game had a reputation of being a ‘good game’ twenty-three years ago either, so it’s not like it was a ‘classic’ to begin with.
I guess the best reason to purchase it then would be so you can play a game that has a controversial past. Whilst it might not actually be a good game, it does bring with it a reputation of being one of the original ultra-violent video game releases… I’m sure there are plenty of gamers out there who’ll get some enjoyment out of it through pure intrigue alone. I mean, it’s not as if it’s necessarily an awful game, so there can be some enjoyment had out of it – it has never looked better than it does in this revamped version either, whilst the addition of some new levels and co-op gameplay means it’s the most fleshed out version of Postal that you can play.
It’s just not very good and, outside of shock value (which admittedly isn’t that shocking given the games we’ve seen release since 1997), there’s nothing here that’ll particularly stand out as being especially enjoyable in design. Postal Redux is competent at offering a mindless shooting experience that glorifies violence, which is fine, but you shouldn’t expect much more from it than that.
Postal Redux lives up to its reputation of ultra-violence, but its dated gameplay mechanics means it’s not always all that fun to play. I’ll admit that it certainly isn’t an awful game and the revamped visuals and controls go a long way in modernising the experience for new players, but outside of the initial shock value there’s nothing about the game that’ll keep you hooked in for hours on end.
Developer: MD Games, Running With Scissors
Publisher: MD Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC