Postal and I go way back. Back in high school, I spent countless lazy summer days and sleepless school nights messing around in Postal 2’s chaotic sandbox. To this day, I think it’s a fantastic title. It’s a pull-no-punches, filthy, violent game that revels in its own uncouthness. Few games boast scenes where a player can urinate on their father’s grave or crash a Gary Coleman book signing. My love for the series goes beyond that title, too. In spite of its myriad flaws, I played the mess out of Postal III, and I still think Uwe Boll’s movie adaptation is the only good thing he’s ever done. I even ran a Postal fan blog at one point.
With all of this being said, then, it was with great sadness that I couldn’t find anything to love, or even like, about Postal Redux.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. The prospect of the original Postal, which is outdated and clunky by today’s standards, getting an overhaul was a godsend for me. Even diehard fans have a hard time playing the initial isometric entry, which stars the Postal Dude’s dad. The idea of revamping it into a twin-stick shooter for modern computers and consoles sounded novel, and I was on board. Colour me surprised that it wasn’t. Why? Because, frankly, the original Postal has very little to say in 2016.
Virtually every angle Postal Redux swings for just doesn’t connect. As far as shock value goes, the violence here is weak tea compared to this year’s Doom, or even the most recent Call of Duty. As far as social commentary is concerned, the writers seemingly have nothing to say other than, “sometimes people go postal and kill other people.” As far as humour is concerned, nothing merited more than a chuckle. Torching a marching band or killing an entire farm of ostriches just isn’t as funny as anything in Postal 2, and the Postal Dude’s one-liners feel phoned-in (although the voice acting is still fantastic, and a nostalgic comfort.)
That’s not to mention that the whole thing just isn’t that fun to play. For a twin-stick shooter, using a gamepad makes the thing almost downright unplayable. Shots rarely connect, and aiming is oddly restricted. A mouse-and-keyboard set-up is the superior choice, and at least makes the game smooth and playable. Even then, though, what you’re left with is a twin-stick shooter in a market already crowded with them, and not much incentive to carry out any of the objectives.
At least the work that’s been done to remaster the game is noticeable. While there are some depth perception issues in terms of scenery, the hand-drawn backgrounds have a distinctive look to them and some of the later levels were genuinely impressive and fun to me. If the whole game had been like the excellent City and Carnival levels, not to mention the new and surprisingly sobering conclusion, this might have been a very different review.
But unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. As a longtime fan, Postal Redux is an extreme disappointment. While everything about the brand has left an impression on me thus far, this just warranted a shrug and a disappointed sigh. For a game that’s supposed to shock, offend, and stir controversy, that’s a letdown.
Bring on Postal 4, and let’s forget about this awkward misstep.