Nineteen years. That’s right; it’s been nineteen whole years since Running With Scissors released the original Postal on PC. The isometric twin-stick shooter came out to controversy with a vengeance, where your objective was simple – kill anything that moves, civilians, cops, military, more civilians, and more cops. Now, Postal Redux brings Postal back with another vengeance, but this time with a slightly faster pace, some new content, new artwork, and improved controls over the original.
Postal Redux returns to the eponymous Postal Dude’s first incarnation, as a psychotic individual out on a rampage to cleanse “evil” from the face of the Earth, shooting figures of civil authority, the military, vigilantes, civilians, and even the occasional ostrich. Your objective, however, is primarily dealing with the first three of the previous list. By eliminating 90% of the hostiles in an area, you can continue to the next level, though nothing is stopping you from performing a full sweep and cleaning the entire level out of anything living. In fact, clearing the area will allow you to collect additional ammo, grenades, and perhaps even a weapon or two that you can take with you to the next level.
The control scheme is brought up to modern standards with a simple WASD movement system and mouse aim, where Dude will fire towards the direction of the cursor. This contrasts the first control scheme, where you used WASD to move but had to press the arrow keys in the direction you wished to shoot at. Gamepad controls are already set up to allow you to jump right in if you prefer to use controllers over mouse and keyboard, though going into the options menu and making sure your controls are as you prefer still wouldn’t hurt.
There has also been an update to the art style, where levels are hand drawn in a style that, though not exactly the greatest among HD remasters, does pleasantly remind me of Mike Judge’s work from the 90’s, which is fitting, considering this is a remake of a 1997 game. Player and enemy models are done in 3D with a decent amount of detail and some fairly good animation to go with it.
The arsenal in Postal Redux comprises of a submachine gun with unlimited ammo, two different shotguns, one of which is fully automatic, a rocket launcher, a flamethrower, an incendiary projectile launcher, and new for Redux, a magnum revolver. Each weapon has different uses, range, and quirks that make one more usable than other in certain situations. The SMG, for example, while the weakest, has infinite ammo and decent range. The rocket launcher, while having slow projectiles, have the longest range and can take out multiple hostiles before they can reach you, with the bonus of having an additional homing ammo type. Fire weapons ignite enemies, who can spread the fire among themselves (and to you). A selection of grenades can also be used: traditional timed frag grenades, Molotov cocktails, and proximity mines.
The hostiles you encounter will vary from muscle shirt wearing vigilantes with Molotov to police first responders to heavily armed and armored SWATs and military guards. Some enemies remain stationary while chucking grenades or firing heavy weapons at Dude while others will chase him down and exploit cover and other areas that they can use to hide. Each enemy type has differing amounts of health, so particular weapon selection and exploitation of cover will assist in coming out on top. Though at times, enemy AI can be rather simplistic and easily exploited.
Postal Redux offers two primary modes of play, a standard campaign of 17 levels, and then a score attack “Rampage” mode, where the goal is to score as many points as possible. Though 17 levels sounds like a lot, they are not particularly huge, and the entire campaign does end up being an unfortunately short romp. With a few restarts and taking my time in each level, I managed to get through all of them in under two hours.
Rampage mode occurs in the same levels as the campaign, but there are more targets, both passive and hostile, with the same objective if eliminating 90% of a level’s enemies before proceeding and having your score presented to you. You also start the level with a few extra weapons and more ammo. Killing enemies in quick succession builds a combo that multiplies your points. You can get more points by changing the methods you will your targets with, which adds to the combo total.
The level design in Postal Redux is decently well-rounded. You go through several different types of rural, suburban, and urban environments, from Dude’s home out in the sticks, a truck stop, a carnival (which is a new addition in Redux), a mine, a downtown area of a large city, and an air force base. The pre-drawn environments have good contrast, usually allowing you to identify potential obstacles and cover. Unfortunately, though, I encountered some severe collision issues in one or two levels, but nothing that can’t be patched out. Some levels are smaller in size, such as the carnival, while others are larger, such as the industrial complex. Exploration to find hostiles and goodies laying around is heavily encouraged, which lends to a decidedly old-school play style.
Though nothing appears to be too surreal with the levels outright, approaching some corners of each level often presents itself with a surreal sound effect, factoring into the Dude’s psychosis. The ambient sounds will range from standard background noises to the unsettling. When each level loads, an entry from what appears to be Postal Dude’s journal is displayed on-screen, often ranging from murderous to disturbing, with gritty background art setting the scene. When a level fully loads, strange noises play, and the art starts taking on a variety of distorted animations and effects. It is an intelligent presentation of a psychotic protagonist’s viewpoint, coming from his disturbed mind during the loading screens to scrolling out to what reality actually is. Though, I can’t help but feel that adding some more distorted effects to levels would have helped the campaign out some.
Other sound design tidbits come from rerecorded quips Postal Dude makes when killing enemies or taking out certain guns to enemies shouting at Dude to their lines when crippled by Dude’s gunfire. Gunshots, music, and voices all sound rather clear.
Running With Scissors didn’t exactly hide that Postal Redux is a love letter to their fans, and if you are indeed a fan of the first Postal, there is quite a bit to enjoy, from the new, high definition art in the levels to the revamped and easier to use controls. If you are more casual to the twin-stick genre, Postal Redux can serve as a good way to blow off steam or kill short amounts of time by killing things in quick succession. Twin stick veterans can be reasonably challenged in the game’s Rampage mode.
What you get out of Postal Redux will ultimately depend on what you expect going in. The short campaign means that extended play will often be in Rampage mode, or subsequent playthroughs of the campaign, depending on what you perceive the campaign’s replay value to be. What you get is a reasonably fast paced twin stick isometric shooter with old-school mechanics with a simple campaign and score attack modes with some psychological effects added in for good measure. It is not genre defining or changing by any standards, but it is a remake of an earlier example of the genre, after all. For me, it was a somewhat enjoyable experience but a very brief one, and nothing that would keep me hooked. Despite this, it is easy to see that a lot of love went into this remake all the same.
Postal Redux was reviewed on PC via Steam using a code provided by the developers. Mouse and Keyboard controls were primarily used during a majority of the playthrough.
Postal Redux is a brief, but decently fun twin stick shooter with some fitting ambience. It will help kill small amounts of time, but the short campaign will be over well before you know it and longer enjoyment of the game will depend on you getting into the Rampage score attack mode.