Developer Running with Scissors describes Postal 4: No Regerts as a true sequel to Postal 2, a first-person shooter “fondly dubbed as ‘The Worst Game Ever’”. Not only did that make me weary of what I was getting into, but who advertises a game like that unless they are being cheeky about it? The Postal series is known for controversy, violence, and crude sex jokes so knowing all of this beforehand, I mentally prepared myself for a rough ride.
Regrettably, nothing could have prepared me for what Postal 4 took away from me. This is a game that is ridden with issues in every sense of the world. Audio, plotline, control, graphical — basically any problem you could possibly encounter in a video game, Postal 4 serves it to you piping hot and doesn’t stop until you finish the game or just shut it off, take a break from it, and then force yourself to play it some more because you need to review it. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the kind of game you don’t want to play.
Tedious and Unfunny
Postal 4 starts off by reintroducing the Postal Dude to the world. This no-named protagonist ends up in a bind after his trailer home and possessions are stolen from him so he and his dog need to leave their town and wander around until settling on the city of Edensin. Like past titles, the game is broken up through five days of the week with each day giving the Dude new errands to complete for money and to bring him one step closer to finding his stolen stuff.
There really isn’t anything holding the story together except Dude’s search for his missing home so the tasks you get each day seem farfetched and seemingly out of left field. On Tuesday, you will be under the direction of a Mexican guy who asks you to help immigrants enter the country by catapulting them over the border. On Thursday, you will need to help a mafia guy by killing off one of the candidates for governor, and before that you will need to help a toilet-obsessed mayor gather signatures to install bidets around town.
- Colorful static cutscenes.
- This pain you get from playing through this poorly made game;
- The frustration of sitting through another loading screen;
- The grief you feel when you realize the game isn’t over yet.
These tasks are your main objectives each day, and finishing them all means you can move on and continue Dude’s search. Some of these errands try to be funny, but they fail miserably considering their subject matter is more crass than anything else. One that has you infiltrating an amusement park themed after a woman’s reproductive system and one that has you capturing dogs and cats for a guy who, it seems, eats them. There is also a heavy obsession on human excrement so expect to clean up poop or pee on people if you feel inclined. These kinds of jokes can be funny in the right context, but when there is no context to them and when the rest of the game is barely hanging on by a thread, these jokes just come across as pathetic and juvenile.
A Dead Game
What’s worse (and there is a lot that is worse) is that the overall world is bland and lacks any depth whatsoever. The information booth in the game makes Edensin seem like this colorful giant city filled with various districts you can travel to, but in reality, most of the buildings you come across have nothing in them that make you feel like the town is alive and people live there. The supermarket is fully stocked with, the clinic features lots of hospital beds, and even the casino has lots of slot machines, but no one is in them. Basically, Edensin feels like a ghost town.
Funny enough, there are lots of people walking aimlessly around you, but they do nothing but simply stand in your way. It would have been great to see the AI actually do something or have some sense of purpose, but just seeing the same character models wander a secluded part of town feels odd. Why aren’t they in the supermarket behind the counter? Even the one clothing store in the game has no one in it.
Just like the typo in its title, Postal 4 was either a mistake or a poor attempt at being deliberately bad. There is nothing redeemable about this game except maybe the colorful static cutscenes you see that pop up at the start and end of your day. Save yourself the pain and avoid this at all costs.
This also brings up the issue with the game’s performance: it’s bad. Not only does the game feature character and environmental models that look bland and dated at its highest setting, but it crashed on me too many times to count. These crashes occurred at the most random times, too, and sometimes, the game would just freeze forcing me to manually restart it to make any progress. After enough crashes, there were times I simply had to step away and come back to the game a few hours later because it just got too annoying.
So Many Things Done Wrong
To add to this frustration, Postal 4 needs to load a lot whenever you enter a different part of the world’s map. Granted, the map is modest in size compared to recent open-world games out now, but it still forces you to look at a frozen screen each time you decide to explore a new part of town. And these moments happen a lot because the town is cut up into various zones that need to load each time you visit them.
Getting around also means you will either be running or riding everywhere on some wonky scooters as there are only a small handful of fast travel locations scattered throughout the map making them not even worth finding. In the time it takes you to locate these areas, you might as well just run there yourself. But, beware — the map is also broken so the waypoints you can set for yourself will almost always be off and give you routes through inaccessible areas adding to the frustration of making any progress.
Combat also feels lifeless and your guns don’t even feel like they do much damage. In fact, beating someone in the head with a police baton kills them in two hits while it takes forever to shoot anyone down with one of your automatic rifles. Even more infuriating is that the enemy AI is pretty dumb and will simply run past you sometimes missing you altogether while at times enemies will bunch up together making it difficult to aim for specific ones. Also, good luck finding ammo because it practically doesn’t exist.
Even at normal difficulty, you are most likely going to die a lot and the game is generous enough at respawing you at the nearest checkpoint, but this also means you may respawn just a few feet away from where you last died. The entire area is reset and all the progress you did is saved, but it’s still a tedious chore to suffer through lackluster encounters just to complete an errand and move on with your life.
Tedious, lifeless, and bland are all words that can describe the eight-hour hell that is Postal 4. I tried giving the game a chance and laughing at its poor humor or finding some fun in its eclectic missions, but I couldn’t. There are also side tasks like scooter racing and challenges for you to kill people with different weapons, but these are futile attempts at making the game feel even somewhat fulfilling. There is nothing redeemable about it except maybe the colorful static cutscenes you see that pop up at the start and end of your day. That’s it.
Our reviews are featured on Metacritic.
Ultimately, it’s a surprise the game is even coming out of Early Access seeing how much help it needs. As it stands, its boatload of performance issues, lifeless environments, and nonsensical plot kill any chance of the game being even remotely entertaining and it feels more of a punishment to play than anything else. Just like the typo in its title, Postal 4 was a mistake to make or a poor attempt at being deliberately bad.
Giancarlo Saldana | Gamepressure.com