Disclaimer: I do not believe Postal 4: No Regerts is at a stage where it is ready to be reviewed. As you’ll read, there are many, many aspects of the game which are underdeveloped, absent, or poorly implemented. That said, Running With Scissors sent us here at GamEir a code to take a look at, so that’s what we did. Presumably, they believe it’s in a state worth playing.
Rest in Peace, Postal. Postal 4: No Regerts is your tone-deaf Swan Song
There was a time when the Postal series critiqued capitalism, the so-called “American Dream”, and the self-serious military-industrial complex. Postal was the video game industry’s answer to rampant worker abuse. Realistically, it told an untold story – that of the victims of capitalism, driven to murder when all other options seemed unthinkably regressive, passive, or bourgeois. Postal was a bold statement, cackling in the face of the establishment. Postal was (or, at least tried to be) to video games what South Park was to television.
That time has passed.
My most generous reading of Postal 4: No Regerts is the death rattle of a piece of semi-satirical semi-art. My most accurate reading of Postal 4: No Regerts is that of an ageing hippie-turned-conservative. The Postal series used to (metaphorically) stand for free love, civil and social rights, and listening to Leonard Cohen in a public place. Today, they’re a barely coherent baby boomer with an equal number of teeth and IQ points. In 2020, the Postal series, and message, are dying. A decade ago, that would have been a travesty. Today, it’s appropriate, and frankly, overdue.
What is this, 2004?
Let’s cut to the chase. Visually, Postal 4: No Regerts is a mess. The graphics wouldn’t look out of place in a noughties Source Engine game. I wouldn’t even be surprised to find that Running with Scissors upcycled assets from Postal 2 – which was published in 2003. There’s this sort of strange cel-shading over everything which doesn’t quite look intentional and doesn’t fit the overall aesthetic. NPC models are laughable – they look like they came right out of GTA: San Andreas, with the animations to boot.
Furthermore, the audio design is just as bad. Audio normalisation is all over the place – some sound effects are barely audible, while others blow your ears off. The soundtrack is incredibly forgettable. Jon St. John – who you may recognise as the voice actor from Duke Nukem – gives a particularly lacklustre performance as The Postal Dude. He doesn’t just phone it in – St. John is texting it in. He’s just not into it, and neither am I.
The UI is super dated, feels weird and unresponsive to navigate through, and honestly just acts as another barrier to the player.
Frankly, if I didn’t know this game was a new release, I would have dated it as at latest 2008/9. Yes, the game is early access. However, early access games get away with placeholder art – this is a systemic issue with the whole game’s production quality.
Postal 4: No Regerts is Simply Boring
Alright, the heart of the matter. Is Postal 4: No Regerts fun to play? As you may have guessed from the above heading – no. No, it isn’t.
Firstly, the physical movement of the character is slow, laboured, and awkward. Specifically, The Postal Dude moves like an arthritic octogenarian. Secondly, the combat barely deserves the title. It baffles me how a game developer can get the most tried and true game mechanic – gunplay – so horribly wrong. Thirdly, the objectives you are given to complete are A) stupidly boring B) stupidly simple and C) just plain stupid. There is absolutely no challenge, nothing unique or memorable, or even funny about the jobs you’re given.
The entire time I played Postal 4: No Regerts felt like an exercise in tedium. Imagine doing completely mundane household tasks, only you’re not allowed to move faster than a slow walk and your racist uncle is sitting on the sofa making what he thinks are hilarious jokes about minorities. That is the Postal 4 experience.
It feels like the writers of Postal 4 believe that their humour is somehow subversive or daring. And it is – if you are twelve. The mayor of Edensin sells bidets – because aren’t butts funny? The in-game world is currently experiencing an outbreak of the “Pigeonavirus”, the hilarious blend of Bird Flu and the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a pile of doughnuts on the reception desk of the police station, and you regain health by smoking crack. If that sounds like the kind of content that will have you laughing, then Postal 4 is the game for you. There’s plenty more where that came from.
A Failed Project, or an Early Prototype?
As I mentioned at the beginning, I normally wouldn’t review a game so clearly at an early stage in development. But, honestly, I feel that the things I take the most issue with are intentional design choices by a misguided, outdated studio. Looking at Steam reviews, it seems the only people enjoying this are either die-hard Postal fans or people who enjoy pointlessly offensive content. Even people who like the game have nothing of substance to like about it.
All that said, I would love to be proven wrong. I would love for Running With Scissors to turn this into a brilliant, irreverent romp. Personally, I don’t see it happening. However, an awful lot can happen in the Early Access period.
For now, Postal 4: No Regerts is not only not worth the twenty quid asking price, it’s not even worth playing for free.
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