What the fuck
POSTAL is a series that I am both familiar with and unfamiliar with. Ever since I first got proper access to the internet I’ve had POSTAL’s infamous reputation shoved in my face. “One of the most offensive games of all time”, “The game that spits in the face of decency”, “The game with the ‘cat gun’ “. These were all things I heard getting thrown around POSTAL and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t intrigue me. I saw footage of POSTAL II a ton when I was in middle school and I just sort of assumed the entire series was like that.
Then I saw POSTAL 1.
I first laid eyes on the first POSTAL, or rather the remake of it around a week or so before this writing, and it…CERTAINLY left an impression. Not only was I surprised that it was an isometric shooter, but I was taken aback by how much darker in tone it was compared to its sequel. I didn’t see any of POSTAL’s trademark crude humor or cartoonish weaponry, all I saw was unbridled brutality, a foreboding sense of dread, and Nintendo’s approval because I first found out about this game because it was on the FUCKING eShop what??????
Then, and I shit you not, two days later I went into the developer’s website and they just had every POSTAL game prior to 4 on sale for $2 each (outside of the third one. Don’t ask.) and at that point, I decided it would be stupid of me NOT to take the plunge, and so I did it. I decided to start with POSTAL Redux because it not only includes the original games two expansions but also because I spent money on it. The original is free on Steam and I have it but I don’t care. Shut up, damn.
POSTAL Redux is a 2015 remake of the first POSTAL, which was originally released in 1997. The game is a twin-stick shooter that plays at an isometric angle and your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to hunt down and kill every “hostile” enemy on each map and move on to the next level. You have a ton of weapons at your disposal such as an SMG, a shotgun, a rocket launcher, grenades, mines, and more to help accomplish this task. There are also civilians scattered across each level whose only purpose is to run away from you and get in the way of your shots. The game doesn’t encourage you to kill them as they don’t count toward progression…but it doesn’t exactly DIScourage you either. All of the levels are strung together through the diary of a madman, whose entries appear on the loading screen. The main character, known only to us as “The Postal Dude” is portrayed to either be a sadistic individual that takes pleasure in the suffering of others, or a paranoid madman that believes everyone else around him is sick and violent and that he’s the only sane person in his town.
Gonna be real here! I was a tad uncomfortable playing this one! I’m normally not one for getting squeamish about video game violence, hell one of my favorite franchises of all time is Mortal Kombat, and I enjoy a little GTA from time to time as well. This kind of stuff doesn’t normally bother me but there’s something about POSTAL that just feels…kind of real? The game more or less takes itself deadly seriously and the lack of music in the levels itself coupled with the cries and screams for mercy from your victims just hammers down a sense of unease and dread that made me a tad sick. Of course, I understand that this is a video game with the intent to offend, and the developers themselves, Running With Scissors, have stated that they condemn real-world violence of any kind, but that sure didn’t stop me from feeling any less bad about playing it. I mean…I guess that’s the point?
The game at no point tries to portray the Postal Dude and by extension the player, as the good guy in this situation. He’s always shown, even in his supposed “true self” diary entries (which you can only view if you select Hard or Nightmare difficult which ADMITTEDLY is pretty cool) he is shown to be paranoid and dangerous. Man, I don’t know. I guess at the end of the day the game is HARMLESS if a bit tasteless.
Now, ALL THAT BEING SAID, SUBJECT MATTER ASIDE, is the game actually worthless playing? Ehhhhhhh? It’s okay I guess? Game is kind of slow, to be honest. The gameplay loop is REALLY simple and while there are a lot of ways you can dispose of enemies, the campaign doesn’t really give you a reason to keep playing it outside of attempting harder difficulties. I almost wish there were alternate endings depending on how many civilians you killed but I guess that would defeat the point of the game. I think. You know what though? I’ll give the game this. The newly added Rampage mode does make the game feel a lot more fun. Giving the levels a rating system depending on how quickly and creatively you kill everyone and making it more of an arcade experience does soften the tonal blow a bit and make it more palatable. When I was playing the game completely removed from the original context I found myself enjoying it a lot more. Must have been the music.
This is a weird review, man. Goddamn.
I want to make something. Even though I said this game made me uncomfortable, it does not mean that I think it’s bad. POSTAL Redux at the end of the day is an okay twin-stick shooter. While POSTAL’s M.O is to offend the player, it is still a video game when all is said and done. I don’t think it’s going to wow anybody with its gameplay but I DO think it has the ability to make the player feel uneasy. There are worse games you can spend you $10 on, let alone the $2 I did. It’s a damn short ride too, only being around 3 hours on a normal play through even WITH the added expansions. Would I recommend it to everyone GOD NO. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I would ONLY recommend this to people that aren’t easily offended or don’t mind the dark subject matter. Did I like POSTAL Redux in the end? To be honest? I don’t know. And I think that’s the right idea to have.