Postal Redux is a remaster of the infamous game released back in 1997. For those unaware, Postal was highly controversial and remains uncomfortable today.
The plot is wafer-thin and exists barely to justify the activity that is about to commence. You play a deranged individual who just has to kill everyone. He believes in a government conspiracy (which is the reason for the carnage) but in essence, you’re just shooting everything.
The original game concluded with you shooting up a school. This has been removed but it’s little solace as from the very first level you are shooting police, as well as passers-by, innocent people in locations like festivals. It immediately feels really uncomfortable.
I can’t quite isolate why it feels so bad here – there are lots of other games where you can shoot or attack people that one would not want to do. GTA is the obvious example. I think it comes down to this: in games like GTA, the goal is not to shoot police. You can, but the core gameplay loop is not to set out and do it. In Postal Redux, that is the goal. The closest thing I could think of is the infamous No Russian level in Call of Duty, which made me feel equally sick.
Still, this isn’t an ethics review, it’s a video game one. So how is Portal Redux? Well, it’s not good. Set from an isometric top-down perspective, it’s a rudimentary at best twin-stick-shooter. You can collect other guns and throwables by way of pick-ups, but you’re in essence bullet-dodging while killing and executing everything. Even playing on a PS5, it stutters and hitches like nobody’s business, and even though it looks better than the original (as you would expect) it’s not exactly a pretty baby.
There’s no co-op play here, but there is a Rampage made that offers points once you’ve been through the main campaign (which is not hugely long). Sadly, there are no leaderboards. The main appeal here I think is rekindling the nostalgia of the original – which I didn’t play, so can’t attest to that. With all of the enhanced visuals though, there’s still a lame put-put-put shooting noise and some understated effects for things like explosions. The accompanying soundtrack does not especially excite me either.
Postal Redux is a bare-bone twin-stick shooter that’s not especially good, with a questionable subject matter. The framework of the game is pretty no-frills, and the core gameplay doesn’t really do enough to hold its own weight up but might deliver some enjoyment if you really loved the original.
Iain’s Second Opinion
I’m very much with Matt here. A game that was controversial over 20 years ago doesn’t feel any better here. If you’re after a threadbare game where the sole purpose is to shoot anything and everything that moves with little by way of consequences, you’re in the right place. But with the increased news coverage of mass shootings and other terrorist incidents, and the natural increase in sensitivity in society about this kind of thing, this isn’t going to sit well.
And I’m well aware that people will say “don’t be stupid, this is just a game” – well, yeah, it is. But that doesn’t make it comfortable, and it doesn’t make it good. And that’s the biggest issue here: not that the game is intended to shock, and not that the content isn’t great by modern standards, it’s that playing the game by modern standards (which we need to do) doesn’t shine a very good light on it either. There are better, longer and more satisfying twin-stick shooters, and unless you really want to see what all the fuss is about then I’m pretty sure you could find more entertainment elsewhere.
Reviewed on PS4