Sometimes, it feels like you don’t really need to name a character. Imagine something like “the Metroid gal” or “the Zelda dude”, but that’s how it is: the Postal dude is back. He’s going back to his classic Postal 2 roots, trying to take away the horrendous taste in everyone’s mouth that was Postal 3. Is four back to a good edgy time? Let’s find out in our Postal 4 review.
When Postal first made its way unto PC, it felt like the game it was not safe to talk about. In 1997, you definitely did not want to attract any more attention to violent games, the media were already on the job. A mix of deranged serial killing and slight comedy, in a package that was still slightly entertaining to play. Postal 2 changed everything while going all-in on comedy and edgy humour. Is Postal 4 going back to edginess? You bet your ass.
Unfortunately, in an era where everyone and their grandmothers seem to be back on the edginess “because you can’t have fun anymore”, Postal 4’s humour rarely lands. It feels like a retread of several Postal jokes, just slightly modernized and generally tiptoeing around some of the more complicated issues. The gameplay follows suit, but while 2 had the dude go on a series of mundane tasks which were constantly interrupted by inane events, Postal 4 just directly sends you to go do inane (and honestly not very entertaining) tasks.
Is the plot important? Not really, the Dude’s trailer breaks down and he has to work jobs to get it working again. When a game’s first mission involves wading in the sewers battling rats with a shovel, then you would be dreading what’s coming next. Turning into a cat might be fun, but then trying to survive barely functional melee combat is definitely not. Therein lies the main problem in Postal 4: everything just BARELY works. Weapons feel generally hollow, the world is drab and shallow and the NPCs still very much act like those from GTA Vice City (which is 20 years old this year).
Say what you will about Goat Simulator, but its commitment to being a chaos simulator is both in restraining and setting up perfectly its jokes and situations. Postal 4 just lets the player loose like a horny bull in a china shop filled with naked Greek statues. While it’s been a year since it has been out of Early access, it doesn’t feel Postal 4 has been improved for its PlayStation 4/5 release. Bugs still are the soup du jour and mechanics fail to work. I had to reboot the “attract dogs with bones” mission three times because the dogs just kept ignoring the treats. Loading times are generally atrocious, at the start I had to wait a full two minutes (yep) before I could even play.
That is not to say everything in Postal 4 is shoddy and failing to work. I definitely appreciated the choice of having different voice actors for the Dude, even though I stuck with Zack Ward of course. Wandering around, and being free to explore and look around can indeed lead to some fun situations, along with solving missions in many different ways (even though some of those happen by accident). But those are things that Postal 2 still did better.
While I was never the biggest fan of Postal 2’s turn for the insane edginess (I’m still a fan of the original’s disquieting vibes with slices of dark humor), the gameplay was always entertaining. Desperately trying to act normal in a town going straight to hell was a unique feeling that only a Postal game could gift. This time, it feels like the Dude is battling more with a game that wants to fold in on itself, while passing hours finding things to do which, despite sounding insane, still end up being boring.
Even leaving Running with Scissors to work on Postal 4 for another ten years, I’m not sure if the resulting game could still be recommendable enough for non-fans of the series. If you’re curious to check out the chaos yourself, I’d still recommend going for Postal 2, which is often on sale on Steam for a few bucks. The fourth chapter is better left to those who want some good ol’ edgy humour, bland gameplay and Ward’s soothing voice to make everything a lil better. Postal 4 wants very much to be a bad game in the same vein of movies like Birdemic, but the main crime it commits is being boring.
Our Postal 4 review (PlayStation 4 version) was made possible with a key provided by the PR. Postal 4 is available on Steam, and PlayStation 4/5.
Postal 4: No Regerts: With barely functional gameplay, long loading times and bland missions, Postal 4 is better left for fans of edgy humour and guns silenced by cats' butts. – Damiano Gerli