Roguelike is the referenced genre here. A minute list of games of that type have appealed to me. Still, they fascinate me, so I keep diving into new ones as I’m able. Thankfully, one of them I was able to dive into is Post Void. This game is a trip in a lot of ways, but it’s actually a trip I’m willing to take, despite my frustrations with the genre.
Post Void Review (PS4) – Chaotic Roguelike FPS With Compelling Give and Take
Post Void establishes practically zero premise. Instead, it gives you a gun in one hand and a head-shaped vial in the other. Your only goal is to reach the Void by fighting your way through waves of enemies.
Each level is randomly generated, with both the shape of the level and enemy placement changing on each run you take.
To increase tension, your vial constantly leaks life essence, which you need to stay alive in the Void. The only way to get life essence is to kill enemies. Ultimately, moving quickly, not getting hit, and defeating enemies is the general script you need to adlib through all eleven frenetic levels.
The absolutely first thing about Post Void that will surprise you is the art style, mimicking something of a Doom-on-drugs fever dream. What surprised me about this visual style is how helpful it is in this environment.
Absolutely everything is visibly tangible and distinguishable from its surroundings, making enemies easy to identify even at the fast pace that the game demands of you.
This carries over into all eleven of the levels as well. Having such thoughtful color design is fantastic, especially for such a chaotic game. At the same time, this thoughtful use of color in such a hyper-stylized game is absolutely necessary to have any kind of success in beating the game.
The shooting mechanics make this entire formula work. While you need to execute precision shots to one-shot enemies, the game still gives you a little leeway. Even from far away, you can land a headshot with your pistol and be a few pixels off dead center. This may not sound like a big deal, but it makes all the difference sometimes when running for your life, trying to stay alive.
Enemy design is absolutely wonderful, bordering on grotesque. They have official names, but I like the names I gave them.
There’s the Leviathan from Supernatural, Addam’s Family’s The Thing with a chef’s hat, a squished human pleading for help through his butt, annoying drones, “that eyeball thing on the wall,” and the crabby squid.
One or two variations of these enemies appear in later levels, but each level introduces either a new enemy or a new variant. Some rush you and some flee, each causing problems for maintaining your life essence.
A Little Give, A Little Take
When you hit level four, the map asks you to jump to different floors. Unlike the first three levels, you don’t always see enemies on the other floor. You need to be ready. This is my one significant gripe with Post Void. With everything the game throws at you, every other aspect of the game feels fair and approachable.
You generally can see enemies coming, or you eventually get a sense of where enemies will lay in wait, creating a cool anticipative aspect to the game.
That thoughtfulness gets contradicted by the blind spots created by the floor change. This undoubtedly adds difficulty, but it’s a roadblock very early on that will stay with you for the other seven levels.
Considering this is a roguelike, you’ll be seeing the first three levels often just because of level four doing you dirty.
In contrast, what this level change also does is force you to consider your fight or flight response. Sometimes, it’s just better to keep running instead of juking around trying to kill every enemy you see. If the enemy is fast, it needs to die.
If it’s slow, you could go either way, depending on your life essence. The floor change is not all bad, but it is nowhere close to as intuitive as the rest of the game is.
Pick Your Perk
The last point is the randomized perks you choose from between each level. Some of these are critical while some are just okay. Sometimes, later success depends on having the correct combination of perks. In fact, if you don’t have the shotgun in the last 3 levels, you won’t succeed without some insane skills.
At the same time, the game gets easier, albeit still hard, when you get the shotgun. Range may not be that great, but taking out multiple enemies at once while sprinting makes up for any range issues.
Considering the amount of time invested in each run, the little extra ease that comes with the shotgun makes for a good tradeoff for what you face in the second half of the game.
Returning to my dislike for roguelikes, Post Void keeps nagging me to forget my frustration and get back to playing. It still takes some significant willpower to start it back up, but when I’m in the game, I’m in it for hours, looking to do better than I did the last time.
Post Void Sets The Bar For Roguelikes
From the enemy design to the crazy art style to the gameplay elements, absolutely everything stands out and yet still works together wonderfully. I won’t let it get by with how it delivers upper and lower floors, but they still work well enough to keep you coming back for more.
Post Void may not be for everyone, but damn it if it isn’t one of the best roguelikes out there. If you’re even remotely curious, you need to give it a try. At $6, the cost of admission is tantalizing.
Post Void is available now on PS4!
Review code kindly provided by publisher.