I’ve played a TON of tycoon-esque games in my day. “Roller Coaster Tycoon”, “Hotel Giant”, “High School Tycoon”, “Prison Architect”, “Prison Tycoon”, “Hot Dog King”…the list goes on. Never before have I managed my very own mail distribution business, however. “Post Master”, the latest of simulators published by Excalibur Publishing LTD, promises exactly that and is due to hit virtual shelves on March 7, 2014. While this review predates the launch date by a few weeks, I’m told that my press copy is representative of the final version. To that end, I’d like to thank Richard Barclay from Excalibur Publishing LTD for providing me with an early review copy.
The main menu is nothing fancy, allowing you to start a new game, continue an existing one, and adjust game options. The settings menu addresses fullscreen/windowed mode, audio volumes, and language. It’s missing some obvious game options like screen resolution and vsync, the former being a bit more serious than the latter. I would have liked a way to increase the size of the in-game text…screen resolution options usually allow me to do just that (lower resolutions = larger text). After playing the game for a while though, I found that the absence of some of these common options didn’t really affect me all that much (except for the text size, of course).
There is an interactive tutorial available should you start a new game, or you can opt to choose between starting an easy, medium, or hard game. I highly recommend going with the tutorial for your first run or at the very least, the easier mode. There’s a learning curve at play that will thrust you into the deep end of the swimming pool right from the start, but once you learn the interface and the gameplay mechanics, you’ll find all of it very manageable. Before you ask…yes, you’ll be able to name your company, select a logo, and choose a truck color. It wouldn’t be much of a simulator if those features were left out, would it?
The game is broken up into days and it’ll be your job to grow your company using the post office you’re originally given. Each post office you create has a radius associated with it, the size of which all depends on the size of the post office in question. When you purchase new post offices to expand your footprint, you’ll have the option to drop more dough to build a larger office. The more post offices you construct however, the more micromanaging you’ll have to do. There’s no “auto-manager” feature available, so you’ll need to see to the features and needs of each post office under your command. Each post office requires staff and vehicles to operate…luckily, once you get things working like a well-oiled machine, the game pretty much plays itself.
Inside each post office are slots for customer service (front desk cashiers), sorters, and security guards. You’ll also be able to unlock and purchase extras like vending machines and air conditioners to attract more customers. Each post office also has a garage in which you’ll have to purchase vehicles to deliver and pick up mail. You’ll have a wide array of vehicles to choose from, ranging from bikes and scooters to vans and large trucks. Each vehicle has a different set of stats associated with it, some being faster while others are able to carry more. The garage is also the place where you can assign these vehicles the routes they’ll drive and the frequency at which they’ll operate them.
On the street view, you’ll be able to do a bit more. Here, you can purchase post boxes (which vehicles can be assigned to), buy new post offices, see how your competition is fairing, link two or more post offices together, and more. You’ll note that I mentioned the word “competition”…in my play through, I experienced one competitor that started on the other side of the map. I wasn’t given the option to increase or decrease the amount of AI opponents, I’m sorry to say. I really would have enjoyed playing without the worry of the AI taking all of my customers away. Luckily, I managed to completely crush him after one in-game week…the chances of him catching up by this point are nil. While not being able to choose how many AI opponents you’ll have is disappointing, easy mode really is a cakewalk.
After about three hours of learning the ropes and getting used to the game, I quickly discovered that I had seen everything there was to see. While the game throws a lot at you from the start, the shroud of complexity lifts rather quickly and it won’t take long before you’re wondering what you’re missing. The game does give you a sense of progression by way of objectives, rewarding you with stars as you complete them. These stars are needed to unlock vehicles and extras for purchase in the post offices, giving you a reason to try and complete these objectives. You’ll be able to earn stars simply by doing well, though you can earn more by completing special deliveries as they come up (make sure you have a vehicle assigned to that task). I liked this idea as a whole, even if I was able to blow through these goals within a few hours of playing the game.
“Post Master” is a competent simulator as simulators go and will keep you busy for a good, long while. The map is a fairly large one and builds upon itself as the game goes on, adding new buildings and structures for you to consider as you’re planning your routes. There’s not a lot of content per se and the game could admittedly benefit from more customization options, but it does have the tendency to suck you in anyway as you attempt to perfect your empire. While there are a number of things that irk me about the game, I do think it is worth its current price tag of £9.98 (about $15-$16 USD). It won’t win any awards for the quantity of content it delivers, but it’s fun in short spurts. As long as you don’t go into “Post Master” expecting the likes and complexity of say, “Roller Coaster Tycoon”, I think you’ll find it to be enjoyable overall.
Final Verdict: 7/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Post Master” by visiting the following websites: