The misspelling’s intentional!
Postal 4: No Regerts left early access last week on 4/20, also known as… Lucina from Fire Emblem’s birthday. Also known as the day the original Fire Emblem was released in Japan. But enough about Fire Emblem, let’s talk about Postal 4.
Completely developed and self-published by series developer Running With Scissors, Postal 4 is the long-awaited sequel to the well known Postal 2. We don’t talk about Postal 3 the same way we don’t talk about The Last Airbender, or Fight Club, except Fight Club was actually good. The devs describe Postal 4 as an “Outrageous and satirical comedic first person shooter,” and from the variety of stuff you can shoot, from a cat-silenced machine gun to literally pissing on people, that seems pretty accurate. Although I have never played Postal 2 before so I cannot make comparisons, hearing good things about Postal 2 piqued my interest in checking out this game.
First off, a quick rundown of a few points that stood out to me:
The game is split up into “Days” (chapters), each of which has set mandatory story missions. I was able to play through the first two hours of the game, about one and a half missions plus the tutorial.
After his car gets stolen in Edensin, Arizona, the Postal Dude’s first priority is to get a job. Panhandling with a cardboard sign serves as the tutorial where it teaches you how to pick up and use items. I felt like the game could have benefitted from a longer and more involved tutorial, since the next thing it tried to teach me was these daily missions that required items I didn’t have yet with controls I didn’t know the keys for.
Walking through the town there’s a lot to see, but my first run in was with confusing NPC behavior. Some woman ran over a person and the police ended up aggroing onto me, prompting me to “drop my weapons” (how do I drop my fists?). Maybe it was dumb to comply in a video game, but in either case I stood still, got arrested and imprisoned. When I attempted to walk out of the station, not only was the front door locked, but the police decided to start another shootout with each other this time. The game then makes you figure out you need to disable the alarms on every floor of the police station, but at this point I had enough and jumped off the roof to freedom.
The devs advertise that the Postal Dude has a variety of ways to accomplish missions, but I felt like my prison runthrough was pretty railroaded. Technically you could ignore the inmates while entering codes on each security tower, but there were no consequences to killing them or ignoring them. I’m also not sure on what kind of point they were trying to make when you finish the mission and the SWAT team comes in and straight up brutalizes the prisoners. The visual storytelling was interesting, as seen in your tour of various facilities from finding pizza in the laundry room to prisoners in the morgue. Unfortunately, these qualities are marred by an otherwise mediocre overall story that serves to barely stitch the missions together.
The main issue I had with the game is the lack of clarity on various fronts. The control scheme might take a while to get used to, and the glut of obscure functions didn’t help. Since I was trying out a pacifist run at first, it seemed really weird that I needed to find a whole separate command to holster my weapon instead of swapping it out to “nothing.” Interactions range inconsistent to straight up buggy - combat with the prisoners had inconsistent results from frightening them to accidentally killing them even when I hit the same area. Likewise, I was really frustrated at how impossible it was to complete the animal catching mission since the dogs kept eating biscuits out of my hand from 20 feet away when I tried to pied piper them. There are gesture wheels for doing a variety of dances, but NPC’s don’t seem to respond to them.
As for how the game runs, unfortunately there is not much to be praised. The graphics are nice but I did need to turn them down to the lowest settings otherwise I’d get slowed down every few minutes. Sometimes the game decides to straight up crash. While my rig isn’t the strongest, the game did feel very unoptimized even on the lowest settings, compared to a game like Risk of Rain 2. For the streamers, I did have some troubles running my game with OBS, where it would only show the UI on stream for some reason. It did annoy me when my game swapped monitors whenever I tried to edit the settings. While the game was in early access from 2019, I hope that the final release fixes these bugs.
One of the major selling points of the game is the crass humor. Ranging from innuendos on every street sign to literally collectible mascot dolls called “Crotchy,” there are no shortage of sex jokes in this game. While I thought it was funny sometimes, I do have a feeling that it might get old as I continue playing the game. At least I wasn’t demonetized… I think. If someone who has played Postal 2 can weigh in on the difference (or same brand) of humor, I’d appreciate it. For better or for worse, this humor sets the tone of the game.
Despite all the rough spots, there are some parts that it does very well. Sometimes all you want to do is go around flipping off NPC’s, which this game does admirably. Or pet dogs. Which requires going into the convoluted gesture wheel. Damn. I’ll see you all for the Postal 5 review.
Postal 4: No Regerts is available on Steam for $39.99.