Postal Redux is not a game designed to blow your mind, make some artistic masterpiece, or to innovate on a genre. The social critique angle ofPostal Redux is not a game designed to blow your mind, make some artistic masterpiece, or to innovate on a genre. The social critique angle of Postal is not something hammered into the player like a school attempting to teach a moron chemistry. Postal instead takes the opposite approach Postal 2 does, and in fact the opposite approach almost any work of fiction like it takes. While gaming tropes such as being able to take absurd amounts of punishment, an arsenal that appears to rely on hyperspace, and "health packs" are present, at the same time, there is a sense of grounded realism to Postal. It features no fantastical settings, no impossible weaponry, no unrealistic enemies, and an uncomfortably serious tone. Postal does what pretty much no other work like it does, and that's what makes it unique and special. While the sequel features such things as cats being used as silencers and Al-Qaeda hiding out in Arizona, Postal feels grounded in reality in a way that feels more relevant than ever.
Stop me if you've heard this before. An angry, mentally imbalanced white guy who believes the world is out to get him with a giant cache of guns decides to kill everyone in his way in rampage of hatred that shatters families, leaves corpses in its wake, leaves us wondering why and despite the horror of the situation will undoubtedly happen again soon with nothing done to prevent that. Oh, just about every week on the news? Postal Redux is a remake of a game made in 1997. Think about that: Postal originates from a pre-Columbine, pre-Sandy Hook, pre-neo-fascism/"alt-right" America. Yet, the events of Postal, while being over the top in kill count and survival, are essentially numerous levels of doing what actually happens quite often in the real America in the 21st century. Take any individual level of Postal and it feels like a Lets Play of a major news story, some already having happened and some that are bound to happen in the future. Bomb a parade, shoot up a supermarket, go wild at a military base, or just shatter the false peace of suburbia. Postal doesn't need a novel's worth of dialogue and ten hours of cutscenes to tell a meaningful story, because all you need to do to get the story for Postal is to go to the news website of your choice. Critiquing the story of Postal is completely missing the point. These events are not deep, are often completely without a point, and when one is presented it's shallow, hateful and insane. There's not supposed to be a deep story to this game, because the story isn't of characters and set pieces, the story is one of critique and metaphor. Postal holds a mirror up to America and sells us simulations of what we've become numb to.
As for the gameplay? It's alright. Nothing about Postal's gameplay is groundbreaking, and if you try to use a controller you're going to have a bad time, but nothing about it is otherwise bad, or even bland. All the guns are unique and have their own uses and feel. While there's not a billion weapons in Postal, each weapon serves a dedicated function and you'll find yourself using all of them throughout the game. Power weapons have more limited ammo and/or rates of fire, while the pump action shotgun will be your main tool of destruction throughout the game. The SMG is best used as a last resort weapon or for mopping up civilians, as it's got unlimited ammo. The AI is quite impressive, the civilians will flee while the hostiles will use actual tactics to fight you, flanking you and attacking from multiple directions so that while you focus on one their buddies can take you from behind. Numerous times I found myself fleeing enemies because I'd bitten off more than I could chew, or frantically spamming explosives to try to get them off my tail. While one cop with a shotgun isn't an issue, five can quickly do massive damage to you. Hostiles will try to pin you down onto explosives thrown by other hostiles, and they'll happily use barrels against you. Combat is as fun as it is actually challenging, while still having a very pick-up-and-play feel to it.
All in all, Postal Redux is a fantastic remake of a controversial game, and improves quite a bit on the original. Furthermore, the actual meaning behind the game is perhaps more relevant and powerful now than it was in 1997, coming to an America numb to violence like this perpetrated in real life rather than being horrified even by the virtual depiction of it. Some would say it failing to shock now is a downfall of a remake, but I'd say that it failing to shock us, and feeling quite mundane and like an average part of our lives says more and means more than shocking depictions of fictional violence ever could. In twenty years we went from being horrified by low-resolution victional pixel violence to being numb to the exact same thing in real life and outright critical of the game not being graphic enough. Where will we be in twenty more years?… Expand