Postal 4: No Regerts Review
Even if you’ve never played them, you might at least have heard of the Postal games. They’re infamous for anything-goes humor, violence, and all around offensive content. The series is also noted for game-stopping bugs and sloppy tech. With Postal 4: No Regerts, has developer Running With Scissors finally delivered a competent product?
Not even close.
Postal Dude Returns Again
Postal began as an isometric shooter a la Grand Theft Auto. Its goal was to take mayhem, violence, gross out humor and something akin to social satire to a new level, or maybe low. Postal 2 — considered by some to be the least stinky of the series — featured an open world and first person action. Outsourced to a Russian publisher, Postal 3 alienated even many diehard fans. It returned to a more linear story line, but was nearly unplayable.
For Postal 4: No Regerts (spelling is intentional, by the way), Running With Scissors promised a less buggy, more polished game. In early release for some time, the game is now ready for full release. Except it really isn’t.
Because it was apparently a brilliant idea the first time, Postal 4’s plot is nearly identical to the second game. You play as the Postal Dude. Along with your pitbull, Champ, you arrive in Edensin, Arizona (get it? Eden=sin). Each game day you have a vague series of missions to complete. The end goal is getting your stolen car and trailer back and hitting the road.
Most of the jobs have some sort of satiric connection to current events, like rigging an election or being a QA tester for videogames. You can work for organized crime, be a dogcatcher, animal relocator, sewer inspector or prison guard, just to name a few. The point of the jobs is really to set up a bunch of bad jokes, sight gags, and provide an opportunity for mayhem. You earn money, too, and find a lot of collectable junk around town. Now and then, you’re prompted to “go postal” and kill a specified number of people.
Crass or Creative?
The humor and story (such as it is) of Postal 4 would not exist without the never-ending references to other games, events, social media and popular memes. Literally every sign, job, or piece of random junk relies on the player getting a topical reference and joke. This is the kind of game that plays the humor odds. Throw enough crap against the wall, and some of it will stick. A small percentage of Postal 4’s humor is smart enough to be worthy of a chuckle. Most of it is just lazy, dumb and obvious satire, like turning Joe Exotic into Vince Erotic, the P***y King. There is no filter, no joke too stupid.
An argument could be made that the original Postal had some value as a commentary on the misguided uproar over videogame violence. But fourth time around, there’s no shock left. The game is like a grown-ass adult who has never matured out of the infantile phase when saying “poop” was the funniest thing in the world. The only positive hidden in the franchise’s “evolution” (yeah, right) is more emphasis on humor over violence, though there’s still plenty of the latter.
Still, to each their own. If dumb humor and cartoon ultraviolence is your thing, you do you. The worst part of Postal 4: No Regerts isn’t the story or humor. It’s trying to play the game.
Put Me Out of My Misery
In addition to having all the graphical panache of a decade old shooter, Postal 4 barely runs. It crashes and freezes constantly. It drops frames and stutters and has a fun house’s worth of weird visual anomalies. It’s absolutely inexcusable that, after nearly two years in Early Access, Running With Scissors feels the game is ready for release. For $40 actual dollars. What the hell condition was this game in when it first appeared?
Assuming you can get it to run, the game looks primitive and controls poorly, with a clunky interface for good measure. The sound design is amateur-level. I want to know, what dirt did the developers have on Duke Nukem’s voice actor Jon St John that he would consent to voice Postal’s 4’s lead? Duke had the complexity of King Lear compared to Postal Dude. I guess that Cameo career isn’t paying the bills.
When it comes to humor, satire and pretend violence, I have endlessly high tolerance. Art and entertainment should be free to push buttons and push the limits of what’s acceptable. I have far less patience for lazy, sloppy and tired humor that masquerades as edgy, and no patience at all for developers that waste my time with games that barely run. With Postal 3, Running With Scissors blamed it on the Russians. With Postal 4, they have no one to blame but themselves.
***PC code provided by the publisher for review***
- A rare good joke if you can find it
- Nearly unplayable
- Crashes, freezes, bugs
- Primitive graphics
- Hit or miss humor
- Poor controls