Post Void Review — DOOM’s Psychedelic Grandchild

Post Void Review — DOOM’s Psychedelic Grandchild

Post Void is heavy rock-and-roll, flying pixels, and laser-sharp shmup arcade mechanics distilled into a combination that equally terrifies and unsettles.

First, there was the Void. Then, there was a Headache. The rest is post-punk guitar solos and art design that resembles— I imagine— what Tommy Pickles (from Rugrats) would see if he dropped, like, 10 tabs of acid in the middle of the pilot episode. Post Void, the new experimental FPS from developer YCJY, is a synaesthesia-induced callback to the heart-palpitating twitch shooters of the 1990s, and it’s the last game I expected to reel me in for an entire weekend.

The premise is simple enough; shoot your way through corridors of monsters while running to the end of the level. Then do it again and again and so forth until you either die or somehow reach the very end of Post Void‘s 11-level campaign. The only catch is that your health (represented by a glass idol held in your hand) is constantly pouring right out onto Post Void‘s geometrically uneven floorboards, meaning that if you stop moving, you die. Luckily, killing monsters restores your health, giving you quite a clear reason for your blood-soaked jaunt to the end.

But leaving my description at that is such a disservice to what Post Void is that I’ll just keep going. Post Void is fast. Really, really fast. So fast, in fact, that I’d call it the textbook-definition polar opposite of Superhot. I still have no clue what I’ve been shooting at while erratically scurrying through Post Void‘s many corridors, but the assortment of opponents it throws at you die quite satisfactorily, as long as you manage to land headshots— which is easy to do with some practice, given that the hitbox is noticeably large, and therefore super forgiving!

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Its rough, tough, high-adrenaline, no-holds-barred twitch-style shoot-em-up action is best described as. “DOOM had a baby with Crank, the 2006 action film starring Jason Statham.”

If you survive long enough to make it through to the end of a level, you’re rewarded with an opportunity to pick one of a randomized handful of upgrades to carry with you to the next level, which is a great homage to the rogue-lites that have become popular as of late. It’s a bit disappointing that there’s no greater system of meta-progression beyond this though, as you lose all of your upgrades when you die or beat the game, but since Post Void is so clearly focused on being a fantastic arcade game first and foremost, this didn’t really bother me so much.

I love seeing truly unique and interesting uses of older technology and art design from generations past, and Post Void channels the graphical fidelity of 1992’s Wolfenstein 3D, the very first popular FPS game to land on DOS. Only, it flips conventional visual design onto its head, instead opting for a smorgasbord of secondary and tertiary colors flying at one another at breakneck speeds, leaving an obscure festival of pixels moving back and forth on your screen as you tackle through exploding monster heads, pixellated art-deco furniture, and objectionable wall paint schemes.

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There are no pickups or side-interactions to worry about, which makes the gameplay far more single-minded than its 1990s counterparts. However, it’s hard to call it brainless; Post Void is a genuinely tough game, and I’ve found that it forces me to be both awake and completely aware. I don’t mean that in the sense that I need to give it my full attention to enjoy it— Post Void is espresso in video game form. It forces awareness out of me. There are several downright obnoxious (but very effective!) things that Post Void does in order to manage this. Guttural-screaming enemies hide behind every corner, the floor undulates as you run, the screen flashes black-and-white with every gunshot, and the endless walls are painted with sickly orange and pink hues. Post Void is something of a waking nightmare, but the thrashing soundtrack pushes me through it at such an intensity that my attention is completely wrestled away from how unsettling it all is.

Speaking of the soundtrack, Post Void did something I’ve never seen before in another video game: it gave me a Steam achievement and a link to a “custom” soundtrack (on Spotify) for turning the in-game soundtrack completely off in the options menu. This gag made me burst out laughing at the novelty of it, but then I actually went and followed the link, and much to my surprise I discovered a lovely selection of post-punk and electro tunes. I know this is going to earn me some flak, but I’m in the camp of turning off a game’s soundtrack once it stales and just turning on Spotify, so I have to give credit to Post Void for thinking ahead here.

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One thing that I’m not so happy about is the lack of controller support. Given how brutal and flashy Post Void is, I can only withstand so much of it while sitting in my computer chair in front of my 27-inch PC monitor. It’s certainly forgivable given that Post Void‘s high-speed shmup gameplay channels the best of those mouse-and-keyboard classics from the 90s, but seeing just how big of a hitbox each enemy has, I find the difficulty here is in moving and shooting and not dying, but not necessarily high-precision aiming. Playing with an Xbox controller may not be the “purest” approach here, but it would certainly be more comfortable for me.

At the end of the day, Post Void is heavy rock-and-roll, flying pixels, and laser-sharp shmup arcade mechanics distilled into a combination that equally terrifies and unsettles me. And that’s why it’s great.