Way back in 1997, Running With Scissors released the first Postal game onto PC. It married an isometric viewpoint that was quite popular at the time with excessive violence and edgelord humor in a way that helped the game overcome its incredibly rough edges. A few years down the road, the development team returned with a different take on the series in the form of Postal 2. It dropped the overhead view for a more conventional first-person shooter approach while dialing up the edgelord humor and filth. It was buggy, unstable, and didn’t really have much structure or direction beyond ‘do violent things to NPCs.’
More than a decade after the franchise was seemingly buried with the release of the abysmal Postal 3 in 2011, Running With Scissors has chosen to take another stab at forging the ultimate douchebag amusement park. Postal 4: No Regerts was released into Steam Early Access way back in 2019. Following nearly three additional years in development, the studio is ready to declare Postal 4 a finished product.
Feeling nostalgic for misery
Players familiar with the earlier Postal titles should consider the new game as an official follow-up to Postal 2, with the events depicted in No Regerts acting as a bit of a retcon of the events from Postal 3. After the fictional town of Paradise is nuked to dust, our ‘protagonist’ Postal Dude wanders down the desert road until approaching the town of Edensin, Arizona. It is here where the action gets going as Postal Dude aims to restart his life.
You get dropped into a canyon with some homeless addicts and find a sharpie and cardboard box. Postal Dude writes on the cardboard that he is looking for work and will perform sex acts if needed. Don’t fret now, the humor only gets classier from here. You show your cardboard sign proposition to enough people and eventually, you’ll get sent along to a staffing office, setting in motion the basic framework of Postal 4. Different spots in town can offer quests or tasks for Postal Dude to tackle ranging from assistance with everyday municipal chores like animal control or installing bidets.
These jobs are scattered amongst the town and the play area is presented and touted as an open world, but in practice, it doesn’t really feel this way. You can run and use vehicles to get around the map, but moving beyond a couple of hundred feet or so will trigger loading sequences which ruin any feeling that the environment feels expansive. The triggers for loading kick in in a similar fashion to Half-Life or S.T.A.L.K.E.R., though this world doesn’t feel anywhere near as large as those examples.
Just running around and exploring Edensin feels like you stepped out of a time machine, but not because of any artistic or design choices. The whole game feels like it came directly from 2001, including the feeling of the controls, weapon handling, physics, audio, and most of the graphics. The experience looks and moves like a remaster of Postal 2, except it feels even less polished and cohesive.
NPCs just wander around the town with no real purpose or agency. The only real difference between a stray cat and an adult human in practice is how the character models look and animate. There were more than a few times where I felt like the NPCs were just stray animals, except only about half of them responded to outside stimulus, as if they were deaf or blind. Truthfully, the only interaction I had with them that produced a smile was when a pitbull stole my motorized Rascal scooter while attempting to prevent me from bringing it back to animal control.
You can also just ‘go postal’ as the game advertises. This involves hurting or disrespecting property or NPCs in some sort of fashion, from tasers to guns and explosives. You can still pour out gasoline and spell out curse words with fire. Some items can be combined for whacky effects and the game retains the drug use mechanic that offers passive abilities, such as an energy drink that makes your urine stream super-powered. If you’re the kind of person that wishes you could grab a cat, put a gun up its ass, use said cat as a silencer, choose to urinate on the dead bodies of the people you shot (and the cat), then Postal 4 could be your jam.
Any of the novelty of these actions is derived from the idea of the act itself as actually doing them in-game feels awful from a mechanical standpoint. Even battling with the Edensin Police Department is dreadful as they move erratically, don’t respond to headshots, and often just spawn right in front of you. Should you get killed during any activity, the game will reload at the last checkpoint. This would be normal in most games, but in Postal 4, things are so broken that loading a save only moves Postal Guy to wherever the save was while the NPCs and world state are the same as when you died.
The game proudly touts the inclusion of John St. John (of Duke Nukem 3D fame) in its voice cast, but all the lines fall flat in the best of situations. The line delivery from NPCs is really rough, though it manages to draw attention away from the disjointed lip sync. There are lots of music cues included which are clearly intended to mimic famous tracks. The opening intro art is set against an imposter version of Tumbling Tumbleweeds in an attempt to make Postal Guy come off a bit like Jeff Lebowski. Later on, when you step into the police station, the PA system is playing a jingle that is just different enough from Inner Circle’s Baby Boys to keep the lawyers at bay.
I experienced multiple hard crashes while trying to play Postal 4. I was also unable to ever get the game to run fullscreen on my PC, despite trying both the exclusive and windowed fullscreen options. No amount of old tricks or workarounds seemed to work. Performance was abysmal all around, especially when you consider the fidelity of the assets and effects on display. Postal 4 was a stutter fest for me, regardless of settings or resolution. Often after dying or being arrested, the game would just run at sub-20 fps frame rates until I completely restarted the game client.
Maybe live out your violent fantasies elsewhere
I could see where the idea of Postal 4 could appeal to PC gamers of a certain age. The mid-90s were a wild time. Back then, you could have a goatee and make scat jokes to random bank tellers without drawing suspicion. Postal 4 aims to bring you back to those times, but in the worst ways I could imagine. I’ve seemingly outgrown or moved past any of the content here that I may once have found appealing, but there’s no way I can justify recommending it to others when the execution is so poor. If this is the state the product is in for version 1.0, I have no idea how rough it must have been in 2019 because it feels very undercooked. A game with a dedicated ‘pull your dick out’ keybinding in 2022 should be way more clever than this. No amount of John St. John voice-over work or copyright-dodging music jingles can cover up the odor emanating from this pile. 4/10 BBQ’d dead dogs
This review is based on the PC Steam release. The game key was provided by the publisher for review consideration. Postal 4: No Regerts launches on PC April 20.
Postal 4: No Regerts
- You can pet the dogs
- John St. John voice work
- Animals can steal scooters
- Poor visuals, poor audio, and poor design
- Dated edgelord humor often falls flat
- Unstable and performs poorly on a strong PC
- Feels unfinished
Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Postal 4: No Regerts review - Nothing but regerts