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Jun 10, 2022

POSTAL: Brain Damaged Review

Lights Off
4 Awesome
Retails for: $19.99
We Recommend: $19.99
  • Developer: Hyperstrange
  • Publisher: Running With Scissors
  • Genre: Action
  • Released: Jun 09, 2022
  • Platform: Windows
  • Reviewed: Windows

It’s weird that in 2022 two different POSTAL games released, and the spin-off is quite good. POSTAL: Brain Damaged is a game that goes for the gameplay loop of DOOM Eternal while visually becoming a retro shooter that’s become all the rage. POSTAL: Brain Damaged has a bit of an identity crisis as the developers opted for more arena-based combat and stage progression, where the levels are still massive in size which means that there’s too much downtime between the action and the exploring is often empty. That said, the good definitely outweighs the not-so-good. POSTAL: Brain Damaged is a fever dream of ideas and execution that’s quintessentially POSTAL.

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The is the first POSTAL game not developed by Running With Scissors, well, except for that one game that doesn’t exist that we don’t talk about. Hyperstrange is helming this one, and they take this spin-off in a whole new direction, both art and gameplay. Funnily enough, the voice actor for that game we don’t talk about voices The Dude throughout. Don’t worry, the OG Dude voice actor Rick Hunter is there, too, just in a different way. With the work done on POSTAL 4: No Regerts in utilizing both voice actors, they are The Dude, and do a great job, respectively.

The Postal Dude is wasted, and falls asleep to find himself trapped in his dreams, where anything can happen. As he traverses these inescapable dreams, an alternate version of The Dude is running around, and he chases him from dream to dream until a final confrontation. In terms of story, that’s about all there is to know about this entry, and have never been the focal point for these games. The Dude will be encountering all-new enemies and areas that are huge levels that aren’t a sandbox. The new weapons are inventive and destructive as they leave behind glorious gibs.

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There’s three chapters, split up with five levels each. Three of those levels are just boss battles, but there’s twelve unique and impressively sizable levels to fight through. Between each chapter, The Dude loses his weapons, which can be a mild frustration with the arsenal you’ve built up across each of them. There’s a leaderboard to see times for each level or the game as a whole to compare against friends and strangers alike. There’s memorable levels throughout your time with the game, like the E3 convention one full of furries, postponed games, and pure marketing. The first level is a twisted suburbia, accompanied by cutesy music that’s anything but. Then you even take a trip down to Mexico, giving it the most distinct looking levels here. Naturally you have your sewer levels, and a fun trip to an asylum. And if that wasn’t enough, you even go to space.

The aforementioned bosses, are a little less memorable but entertaining nonetheless. The first boss is literally a Karen, wanting to speak to the manager and raising hell everywhere she goes. Her attacks are easy to learn, and even easier to avoid, who ends up being straightforward. The second boss fight is actually COVID, and it’s not that hard to beat, though the lasting effects remain to be seen. There’s a pretty neat mechanic in defeating this boss. The last boss I want to remain unspoiled, but has the most mechanics in defeating out of all of them. It took me about seven hours on medium difficulty to see the game’s end credits, and it felt like time well spent, though your time may vary. It all depends whether you explore for collectibles, and killing each enemy in a level. Conversely, it can be a lot shorter of a runtime, going by the par times from the developers.

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The weapons of POSTAL: Brain Damaged are both inspired and exceptionally suspect. For instance, the pistol you get is not very smart of one, but could be mistaken for the one from Titanfall 2, complete with locking onto targets. Then you have the chained shotgun, a double-barrel shotgun with a grappling hook straight out of DOOM Eternal. A lot of the enemies in this are just facsimiles of DOOM Eternal as well, and there’s no shame or shyness around that. Every weapon has an alt-fire, one of my favorites is the nail-gun which acts like an assault rifle where the alt-fire shoots a freeze time bubble where you can shoot into it, and once it dissipates, sends all the shots into the unfortunate baddie.

Peeing is back, whether you like it or not. And Hyperstrange sought to make it an actual mechanic and vital component than just a laugh track of a button press. You can now pee into urinals that open doors, start fires when coupled with hot sauce, and can diffuse fireballs from the wizards you fight. There’s also a dedicated kick button to reflect projectiles back at enemies, and even a cute animation where both legs kick at once. The majority of getting through a level will involve combat, but the rest is some sort of puzzle and/or key finding. Key cards will unlock doors, but you’ll have to find alternate pathways to get to said key by solving a puzzle or overcoming some obstacle.

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Like pretty much every POSTAL since the first one, this is littered with outdated references and jokes. A lot of references to toilet paper and COVID, and other oddities like siren head enemies and such. You’ll even fight Cybertrucks at some point, but the windows on them don’t crack as easy. There’s times where I did laugh out loud, like when an enemy called me a round-earther or in a dying breath mumbled about black helicopters. It’s still a game “in the present”, as much as it can be.

I had a lot of criticisms over ELDERBORN from the same developer, but they’ve learned a lot since then and not only fixed up that game, but did it so much better here. There’s a lot of “dead air” as they say in the radio and TV business, but when the levels are so detailed and interesting, it’s hard to complain about the time you’re not in combat. While I do feel levels could have been half as big or long, it’s a lot of fun to traverse, even if the momentum goes in fits and starts.

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There’s not a lot to say about POSTAL: Brain Damaged, performance or otherwise. It’s no doubt stylistic and reminiscent of something like Quake II or more recently DUSK. It simply just looks and plays great, and I never had a single frame drop, and the game loads almost instantly.

My PC Specs:

– Microsoft Windows 10 Pro
– Intel Core i9 9900K @ 5Ghz (Turbo)
– Corsair H115i RGB PLATINUM 97 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler
– Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory
– Seagate FireCuda SSD (500GB)
– Seagate BarraCuda SSD (1TB / 2TB)

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POSTAL: Brain Damaged is far from piss poor, and while I wouldn’t call it essential, it does come recommended. It straddles a weird line of wanting to be something a little more open-world like the mainline series, while being more condensed like an arena shooter. I think if the levels were a bit smaller, Hyperstrange would have nailed what they were going for. As it stands, the pacing and momentum is a bit off as you have so many non-combat sections. As time wore on and the more I played it, the more I liked it. The crass humor and cringey one-liners combined into this boomer shooter just works. POSTAL: Brain Damaged isn’t your dad’s POSTAL.

Steam code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes