The Steam page for open-world first-person shooter Postal 4: No Regerts markets it as “The long-awaited true sequel to what has been affectionately dubbed ‘The Worst Game Ever’, Postal 2!” If developer Running With Scissors’ goal was to live up to that legacy and perhaps even surpass itself, then it succeeded with aplomb. Postal 4 is a catastrophic video game. It’s boring, its combat is nasty and lifeless, its humor isn’t funny, and it’s plagued by a myriad of technical glitches, glitches, and crashes. This is a series that gained traction by courting controversy at a time when video game violence was global news. Postal 4 can’t even claim to be problematic, as its bloodshed is particularly tame by today’s standards, and any jokes that might be considered offensive are too much about lazy stereotypes to be considered worthy. ‘interest.
The base Postal 4 setup sees the Postal Dude return with his trusty canine companion, Champ. After making a pit stop and forgetting to lock their car, the couple’s vehicle, trailer and all of their earthly possessions are stolen, leaving them stranded on the side of the road with nowhere to go. Luckily, the fictional town of Edensin, Arizona is located just on the horizon, so the unlikely duo travel there in search of jobs and their stolen items.
Much like previous games in the series, you have a different set of errands to complete each day, Monday through Friday. These are mostly menial tasks like changing light bulbs in the sewers, convincing people to sign a petition, and taking on the role of prison guard for the day. Others are slightly more unusual, including a race that tasks you with launching disillusioned Americans over the Mexican border using a makeshift catapult. The one thing all of these goals have in common – and I can’t stress this enough – is that it’s not fun to commit to them in any way. It’s probably intentional in some cases, but for what purpose? Postal 4 does not offer a satirical critique of capitalism or anything like that; the game is just designed around boring work that proves more effective than any sleeping pill. Eventually, these odd jobs add up to more and more firefights, whether you’re involved in shootouts with Border Patrol agents or an anti-bidet cult.
The fight would add a touch of excitement if it wasn’t hopelessly bad. Enemy AI is the main culprit hampering Postal 4’s first-person shooter, but it’s far from the only one. Your enemies tend to run towards you in a straight line and suddenly forget you exist, or huddle together in groups, motionless, waiting to be killed. The Postal Dude’s arsenal consists of a familiar assortment of pistols, shotguns, and rifles, none of which are satisfying to use other than the revolver, as it lets you dispatch multiple enemies at once like Cole Cassidy from Overwatch. Not all weapon types have the punch and sense of impact you’d expect, which is partly down to the flabby sound design, and aiming down sights feels too clunky and stiff like few shooters do. The Boomerang Machete and Pigeon Mine are the only weapons that deviate from your standard firearms. The former lets you sever limbs by throwing a machete back at you, while the latter unleashes a swarm of pigeons that tear through any nearby enemies in a feathery fury. The Provider looks odd, but it’s basically a four-barreled shotgun.
Besides being stupid and downright broken at times, the AI also absorbs bullets, making most weapons decidedly weak. Weapons like the M16 alleviate this problem somewhat, but ammo is nearly impossible to find unless the enemies you’re fighting are themselves using the same weapon. You can buy ammo from vending machines around Edensin, but the game doesn’t make it easy to find them. The game map is horrible, both difficult to navigate and lacking in relevant information. Vending machines are not located on the map; in fact, the only icons that exist are for stores which often have no function outside of skinning. It’s also rare that you find yourself drowning in cash, so buying just a small amount of ammo will empty your pockets in a heartbeat.
As a result of all of this, I spent most of the game using pistols instead of something more powerful, and the lukewarmness of each handgun is only exacerbated by getting used to Postal 4 to artificially inflate the difficulty by throwing dozens of enemies at you at once. Dying is inconsequential as you don’t lose any progress and can simply return to where you were after respawning, but slowly killing all the brain dead enemies in the game remains a monotonous chore.
Other than running errands and shooting people, you’ll spend the rest of your time walking through the town of Edensin. The map is large enough that getting around takes a while, and Postal 4 ensures that getting around is deliberately frustrating. You can hop on a mobility scooter to travel slightly faster than the Postal Dude’s running speed, but finding one isn’t as easy as you might think. There are many mobility scooter rental stations scattered around the map, but renting one costs $50, which is not a trivial sum. The billing for these vehicles is especially egregious as they usually disappear if you enter a cutscene or leave them alone for too long, so you’ll be spending much of your time simply trying to find an abandoned scooter that you can commandeer for free.
To make matters worse, Postal 4 is riddled with technical issues, especially when traversing the open world. It’s an ugly and dated game, but even on a powerful PC the frame rate struggles to keep up. Quick Save is also a necessity as it constantly crashes on the desktop. Some of these crashes are completely random, but there are others that I could easily replicate. A race, for example, takes place at a theme park and tasks you with disabling all of its power boxes. I used the game’s cumbersome platform to disable all of them without alerting the firearms staff, but the last one was located halfway up a roller coaster. I assumed riding the roller coaster was the only way to reach it, but every time I interacted with the cart, the game immediately crashed. The same thing happens with the other two roller coasters in the park. In the end, I resorted to firing the power box, which then alerted all nearby enemies. You can eventually complete the game as a pacifist, but it’s difficult to do so when the non-lethal approach is broken.
The same goes during your aforementioned shift as a prison guard, as you get a baton with an optional non-lethal mode if you don’t want to mindlessly kill everyone. I tried to subdue all of the prisoners using this, but at some point it stopped having an effect, forcing me to switch to a deadly option instead.
One of the most common issues occurs when entering a new area of the open world. There are loading screens between these areas, and the game has a habit of placing you inside a mountain as you pass through them. The only way to escape is to reload a previous checkpoint, but even that doesn’t always work as intended. Several times I appeared in a shattered version of the world where most of the environment was gone. The only thing you can do in this case is to keep charging until it finally decides to work. Even that might not be enough, however. At one point, I managed to reload into the game, only to find that I had shrunk to about two feet tall.
There are many more problems than these. There was a run where the game broke and wouldn’t let me pick up a mission critical item; many times the bullets will simply stop doing damage; and at one point the game crashed at the end of a level and then locked me in the closed environment after I loaded. It’s a mess, and many of these shortcomings have been present throughout Postal 4’s tenure on Steam Early Access, with no fix in sight.
According to the developer, a number of changes are underway to improve performance and add functionality. These range from new meshes for certain characters and subtitles for different languages, to a physical pass and improved car models. Maybe bug squashing is also on the agenda, but at this point it’s far too late, given their frequency and severity.
Whenever you don’t bang your head against your keyboard because of Postal 4’s many crashes, you will because of its terrible attempts at humor. Here’s a quick rundown of the main topics that Postal 4 finds hilarious: poo, male and female genitalia, sex, animal cruelty, and Mexicans. Now, I love dark humor, and there’s a lot of toilet humor that tickles my funny bone, but it’s cheap stuff for the lowest common denominator. To give you an example, “That’s a lot of shit” is the punchline for seeing a lot of shit. Jeff Goldblum already delivered that joke with best execution 29 years ago.
One race is to douse piles of poop to stop a group of Mexicans from using it as a secret ingredient in their tacos. Never mind the fact that Mexican food is amazing, it’s just unfunny, racist and commonplace. There’s another gag where angry white women run over two Mexican guys – notice a theme here? – in their truck, just so they can attack me yelling about cultural appropriation. Obviously, that’s not even enough to induce a smirk, and that’s just plain bad. Most of Postal 4’s humor would still feel right at home in Postal 2, a game released in 2002, and it wouldn’t have been funny either.
Even the most recent pop culture references in the game are still pretty dated, with nods to Breaking Bad, Arrested Development, and Twin Peaks. There’s a standout boss fight where you have to kill a facsimile of Peter Dinklage who starts by sitting on a Game of Thrones-esque throne that’s also a toilet. Why Peter Dinklage, you may be wondering? Probably because it’s easy to change his name to “Tinklage”. That, and the fact that the show has a precedent for making fun of little people. Somewhat surprisingly, the voice acting is pretty decent for the most part, especially considering the material the cast has to work with.
Postal 4: No Regerts is devoid of humor and anything approaching fun or engaging mechanics. The only things it has in spades are constant technical issues that only add to the game’s long checklist of glaring shortcomings. Running With Scissors might consider this review a badge of honor, given that the game being bad is apparently part of the gag, but don’t think for a second that Postal 4 even touches the realm of “so bad it’s good”. There’s nothing salvageable about this game. It’s a truly awful experience that should be avoided at all costs.