Maybe I’m supposed to hate Postal 4: No Regerts. Maybe that’s sort of the point. Developer Running With Scissors describes it as a sequel to “the worst game ever,” Postal 2, renowned for its vulgarity and rough edges. If the goal was to make one that’s even worse then that’s certainly been achieved, but that gag doesn’t mean it’s ever fun to actually play. Even for the novelty of a guilty pleasure, like watching a really bad movie for a laugh, Postal 4 only ever disappoints – if I could somehow forgive the corny writing, bad graphics, awful gunplay, and constant bugs, it would still be incredibly difficult to enjoy any game that hard crashes every hour or so. Whether you’re in on the joke or not, there’s nothing on offer here except pain.
Postal 4 bills itself as a satirical open-world shooter that wants to push the limits with a raunchy, over-the-top style and a crass subject matter in the vein of South Park. The main difference is that South Park usually backs up its outrageous ideas with smart writing and some kind of coherent message or meaning behind the madness, while Postal 4 almost never sticks the landing. Its sophomoric, cringe-inducing writing is mostly made up of pointless sexual gags and literal toilet humor, and it all feels like it was spewed out by a fourth grader who just learned their tenth naughty word. There’s one part where you have to unclog a sewer by smacking huge piles of feces with a shovel and another where you visit a vagina-themed amusement park for no discernible reason. It’s embarrassingly juvenile stuff to be sure, but if the dialogue were at least well-written or clever along the way I’d have no problem with that. It isn’t. Instead it’s got all the subtlety and nuance of an enraged ape throwing its dung.
If you even consider Postal 4’s sloppy chain of errands a “story,” it’s an absolutely miserable one. You play as The Dude from Postal 2, a bathrobe-wearing ne’er-do-well, as he searches for his stolen mobile home and tries to scrape out a living by doing a series of bizarre nonsequitur chores for the locals. Along the way you meet a cast of unhinged characters like a man obsessed with bidets for some reason and a foul-mouthed mobster and must complete a chain of quests for each of them before moving on to the next set. After seeming not to bother with telling a coherent story for the first 14 of its 15 hours, the end bizarrely tries to throw a curveball at you and make you care about anything that’s happened with a plot twist that fell flatter than my uncle thinks the Earth is.
It’s a mess, and that’s before we even touch the parts that delve into sensitive political topics. Unlike the generally excellent commentary found in Grand Theft Auto 5, Postal 4 left me wincing for hours as it takes on heavy issues with the finesse and grace of a grease fire. One mission had me launch Mexicans over a border wall via a giant slingshot and another had me “reform” some prison inmates by beating them senseless. As someone with practically no boundaries when it comes to comedy, I’m definitely not one to clutch my pearls just because a game is making light of hot-button issues for the sake of shock jokes – but Postal 4 does offend me by how painfully unfunny it is nearly every step of the way. The fact that it so wildly misses the mark while using such heavy topics as the subject just makes the “comedy” that much harder to bear.
In fairness, there are the tiniest slivers of moments where I can see what Running With Scissors was going for. One section where I painted over a gang’s graffiti and was attacked by a group of Karens who accused me of cultural appropriation caught me off guard and made me smile, while another that forced me to cast my vote in an election that was clearly rigged came close to making something resembling a point. These moments got a chuckle out of me, but they’re so buried under jokes that sent a full-body cringe through my system it was hardly worth exhuming them.
If you were hoping that maybe some wacky, larger-than-life FPS combat could make up for the comedy shortcomings, I have some awful news: by every metric, playing Postal 4 is a complete horror show. The open-world areas are empty and lifeless, gunplay is clunky and unsatisfying, and technical issues and crashes are near-constant. It’s a veritable sample platter of everything a video game could get wrong.
So, working our way down the suffering buffet, let’s save the worst nightmares for dessert and instead start with the wonky combat as an appetizer. When it’s at its best, gunplay relies on being completely over-the-top to compensate for its lack of polish. For example, you might stick a living cat on the end of your gun to use it as a silencer or dual-wield rocket launchers like some kind of monster. That wackiness isn’t without some merit, even if it occasionally strays into eye-rolling territory, like the fact that you can (and are sometimes compelled to) pee on enemies in lieu of firing a weapon.
But good times born from originality are almost always bogged down by janky fundamentals that simply don’t deliver. Enemies are so dumb that they just stand around mindlessly waiting to be killed or get stuck in the environment while you spray them with imprecise weapons that more often than not feel terrible to fire. And on the off chance dying they do kill you, usually just respawns you a few feet away without undoing any of your progress, so there’s no reason to think at all during combat. That is, except for the fact that I found dying and respawning also has a tendency to cause hard crashes and other experience-ruining bugs for some reason, but that was more infuriating than motivating.
Most of this frustrating action takes place in the city of Edensin, a desert area where you’ll commit numerous felonies, take on optional challenges, and ride mobility scooters through mostly empty spaces. The main course of this miserable banquet is a sandbox that expects you to create a lot of your own fun, but Postal 4’s open world tends to make that pretty difficult due to there being so little to do or discover. Even going on a GTA-style rampage has very few consequences since the police officers exclusively on foot and don’t do a lot to ramp up their counter-attacks when you cause a disturbance. I ended up mostly passing right through new areas on my way from one story mission to another since going off the beaten path rarely seemed to reward me. The only remotely fun part about roaming Edensin is that your emote selection is fairly strong and often comes with music cues, so at least I got a kick out of twerking all over town.
One notable exception to the largely aimless city are “Go Postal” challenges, which can be found throughout Edensin and ask you to assault bystanders in a specific manner on a timer. You might be told to kill a bunch of people with a revolver or urinate on a certain number of passersby before your time runs out, earning a bit of money that can then be used to buy weapons, ammo, or other items necessary to further your homicidal desires. These challenges can be an entertaining way to kill a few minutes, but aren’t particularly rewarding and certainly aren’t unique enough to warrant going out of your way to find and complete. After all, you can pee on people at any time, not just when a timer tells you to.
But the rancid mousse to end this meal, and the biggest issue with Postal 4 by a longshot, is how terribly the thing runs. I found myself crashing to the desktop dozens of times during my 15-hour playthrough, sometimes two or three times in less than an hour. And even when it’s not crashing, there’s a parade of other bugs to almost always make life harder on you. I saw people phase through the environment and important objectives disappear until I reloaded my save file. I fell into broken areas of the map with no way to escape, and similarly saw bosses wind up in areas they weren’t supposed to be in, glitching out until I ended the encounter. Postal 4 is so unstable that I found myself panic-saving every couple of minutes, living in fear of what might go horribly wrong next – which it then did, without fail.
Even during the rare periods of time when no bugs or crashes were happening, performance issues still meant it ran absolutely terribly. My PC has a GeForce RTX 2080ti GPU alongside a Ryzen 9 CPU, but it still couldn’t save this unoptimized catastrophe from itself. Everything looks awful (especially characters), moving from area to area results in abnormally long loading and autosaving times that leave you frozen in place, and the frame rate jumps up and down wildly, especially when lots is happening on-screen. You name it, Postal 4 probably has trouble doing it.