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Post Master Review: Not Pushing The Envelope
Tycoon/management games are not to everyone’s taste due to the amount of depth and information processing associated with the genre. However, while somewhat unclear as to what it’s trying to be, Post Master seems to sit more on the casual end of the gaming spectrum. Where does it sit on the thin line between too simple and too complex?
As you have likely already concluded, Post Master is a post office simulator in which you collect and deliver mail and packages to a busy city. You can buy a number of vehicles and upgrades as your company grows – standard fare. The only novel aspect is the way that the city develops and expands as you play, with new buildings popping up all over the place. This forces you to constantly update your plan as new areas open up and the scenery changes.
While nothing compared to the behemoths of strategy/simulation games, Post Master hits the nail on the head in terms of how complex its systems are for a more casual game, but unfortunately fails to capitalize. The variety of delivery and collection types, vehicles and city areas gives you enough to think about, but there isn’t enough feedback to develop better strategies. You’re provided with general statistics instead of specific ones – it’s little use knowing that you are spending more than you are making if you can’t tell what the problem is. Are you spending too much cash on maintenance or wages? Is the less-developed area of town a waste of your time, or are you wasting too many resources on a specific type of delivery that doesn’t make enough return? Without the detail, it’s little more than a guessing game.
The pace would be excruciating for a strategy veteran and it doesn’t really hit a half-decent stride until you have many post offices operating at once. However, once it gets there it finds its niche – it’s actually quite relaxing. It’s calming to watch the city slowly expand while the postmen dart between the houses with the sound of birds and ambient music in the background. While some might consider the aesthetic a little too akin to a mobile game, it’s bright and colorful, with building types ranging from skyscrapers to building lots to make the landscape interesting.
If you’re not looking to chill out without exerting much brain power, Post Master has little to offer you. It could have benefited from a faster-paced sandbox mode in which the player can expand quickly, limited only by their ability to multitask once their empire is too big to manage. Otherwise, the hour or two at the start of every game in which you can do little more than stare at the slowly ticking money counter will put off most players.