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Postal: With its fast-paced gameplay, a variety of entertaining weapons, and, for better or worse, its own edgy wit, Brain Damaged is a fantastic homage to legendary first-person shooter games from the 1990s and the early 2000s.
The old-school first-person shooter, or “boomer shooter,” has seen something of a rebirth since the 2016 release of the great Doom reboot. Remasters of vintage shooters from the 1990s have started to appear on PC and consoles once more, bringing with them rich level designs, frantic gunplay, and a ton of extravagant weapons that are mysteriously crammed into the deep pockets of a frequently unidentified protagonist.
For modern audiences, well-known classic shooters like Quake, Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and Turok the Dinosaur Hunter have made a comeback. Postal is another game that has gained notoriety for being both infamous and stupid.
Although Postal was initially released in 1997 as a modest isometric shooter, it wasn’t until its successor, Postal 2, was released in 2003 that it became every edgelord’s preferred first-person shooter. Its trademark was the gory gunplay mixed with copious amounts of crude comedy, which earned it scorn from virtually every game publication at the time. It wasn’t all horrible, though, at its core. Sorta.
Here’s Postal: Brain Damaged ($19.99), a spin-off of the Postal series that eschews (most) of the contentious brutality in favor of the standard Doom gameplay. To our great amazement, it actually works pretty well. Although it can’t help but use out-of-date puns and crude humor, the level design, creative arsenal, and enjoyable gunplay more than make up for it.
Postal: Brain Damaged
Games Platform: PC
Games Genre: Action, Shooters
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Life Is Cheap—Death Is Free!
In Postal: Brain Damaged, you explore the nightmares of the title character, a psychopath, while striving to achieve benevolent objectives like finding toilet paper. The game, which was influenced by Doom, is divided into three episodes, each of which has four stages and a boss battle. The formula for Postal has undergone other significant changes as well. You’ll quickly notice that this version of Postal borrows heavily from the look and feel of shooters from the late 90s and early 2000s.
Although the faceless caricatures of the random NPCs that were originally cannon fodder in earlier games are still very much lambs to the slaughter, this lessens the impact of the senseless killing that was a major issue in those games.
But don’t get me wrong. There is still plenty of opportunity for murder. You won’t have to wait long to receive a weapon and unleash it on a wide assortment of bizarre and perverse foes. The comedy in Postal is slightly satirical and breaches the fourth wall in ways that are reflected in both your surroundings and the terrible guys that live there.
Enemies include clown-like cacodemons, mutant asylum patients, rednecks yearning for their sisters, and exploding bouncing beans wearing sombreros. All of these can be amusingly dismembered with Postal’s surprisingly diverse weaponry inventory (and yes, you still can pee on everything.)
Brain Damaged has a ton of absurd weaponry that maintain Postal’s distinct charm and humor, including shovel chainsaws, a shotgun with a hook, God-themed bazookas, a dildo bow and arrow, and hot sauce-infused pee streams that set bushes on fire. Since I made Bill Bellamy and Michael Madsen smoke crack in Midway’s ridiculous 2005 remake of the arcade game Narc, I had not seen a video game with a crack pipe that restored your health. Each weapon also includes an alt-fire option.
But I digress—All of this action is fluid and ranks among the best in the genre. This genre of game is well-known to its creator Hyperstrange, whose past FPS works, such as Crossbow: Bloodnight and Blood West, have earned positive reviews on Steam. Even though enemy placement might occasionally be irksome, strafing, firing, and dodging always feel precise.
Even though it is straightforward, the level design is quite clever. Locating the missing lever to turn on a switch or finding a colored key to unlock a door are common ways to advance in current games, but you never feel like you are just advancing toward a goal that is shown on the map. The level even contained hidden trinkets, secret areas, and leaderboards for speedrunners.
They Can’t All Be Winners
Cutscenes that are silly and off-kilter are used to connect the episodes, which are evocative of the Flash cartoons that used to rule websites like Newgrounds. Postal’s fangs may have softened in this installment, but it is still mostly an adult affair—Not just because of its content, which is still edgy, but also because it uses references that are outmoded and corny and are almost as old as the Postal franchise itself.
The main character frequently drops one-liners, and his profoundly deadpan delivery reminds one of Duke Nukem in a Kevin Smith movie. Some jokes gave me a laugh at best, but at their worst, they made me roll my eyes because they made reference to an old meme or a quip about a body function.
What genuinely does put a smile on my face are the ridiculous boss fights—first with an angry Karen, then with the Coronavirus, and finally against yourself piloting a giant robot. These parts of the game are challenging, ridiculous, and backed by a killer heavy metal soundtrack, which make for some of the game’s most legitimate highs (and I’m not just talking about the crack pipe).
But while the level design deserves praise, they also drag a little too long. Checkpoints are reliable for the most part, but sometimes there would be lulls in the action as I wandered around looking for something to kill. Postal: Brain Damaged is really at its best when it’s sending wave after wave of enemies to kill you and not when I’m walking back and forth through suspiciously similar corridors. With that being said, you’ll likely reach the end of the game in about ten hours or so, which is more than enough time spent for a game of this genre and price.
Can Your PC Run Postal: Brain Damaged?
Because Postal: Brain Damaged employs a retro-inspired visual style reminiscent of older games of the era, its system requirements are actually very toaster friendly. At minimum, you’ll need Windows Vista(!),7,8, or 10 operating system, a fourth-gen Intel i5 CPU or equivalent, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M GPU or equivalent, 4GB of RAM, and 4GB of storage.
My rig easily powered through, holding a steady 60 FPS at 2560 by 1440 (or Quad HD). Visual options are limited, with just gamma, v-sync, anti-aliasing, and FOV available to tweak. Slowdown was nonexistent, and I didn’t come across any glitches that would’ve otherwise ruined my run. The gibs were clean and gory and should stay that way, even on cheaper budget laptops that utilize integrated graphics over a dedicated GPU.
As of this writing, Postal: Brain Damaged is only available on Steam, with a planned console release on Playstation 5, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch release coming later this year. Controller support and Steam Achievements are supported, but the game is not Steam Deck verified.
The Dude Abides
With a shooter that is more than adequate and delivered in its trademark crude manner, Postal: Brain Damaged is a deal at under $20. It’s undoubtedly the greatest in the series, especially if you have a fondness for the early first-person shooters and less for the contentious tendencies of Postal 2.
Even while the game’s lengthy levels and corny quips don’t always land, it perfectly captures the look and feel of those iconic shooters from the 1990s. It’s not the best PC game by any means, but it should be placed below deep cuts like Powerslave Exhumed, SiN: Gold, and Turok 2 on the increasing list of boomer shooters worth playing.