Postal is Back
Postal 4: No Regerts really tested me. Not because it was challenging, mind you. It never left me scratching my head trying to solve puzzles that would give the riddler a run for his money. Nor were my hands left with drenched palms from intense firefights. What this game really tested was my patience.
Postal is a series known for being intentionally offensive and vulgar. Irreverent humour and violence are its main draws. Anyone who is familiar with the franchise, especially Postal 2, is probably pretty familiar with the postal dude and his morally corrupt antics. But while the second entry was a relatively fun descent into destruction and debauchery, this latest entry is desperately lacking in fun. Its tone and sense of humour came across as trying a little too hard to be raunchy or edgy. I’ll admit I exhaled out of my nose with some force a few times. However, for the most part I was as straight-faced as I’d be washing the dishes.
When we join the postal Dude and his ever-faithful companion Champ, they’ve just had their trailer home stolen. Along with it, all their possessions and money. Luckily, a city shines in the distance, beckoning them toward a chance to find their mobile home, or at the very least make some cash. The Arizona border town of Edensin is rife with opportunities. And the postal dude is seemingly up for just about anything.
Anything For a Dollar
This is Postal 4’s main objective in a nutshell. Make money however you can, and man does it take you down some weird paths. From catapulting people south of the border wall, to getting high on noxious fumes and turning into a cat looking for a mate. You’ll become a prison guard for an afternoon, and end up massacring most of the population. Or getting people to sign a petition in support of bidets at gunpoint.
Your adventures get pretty wild and wacky, but on the other hand, the campaign is fairly straightforward. The story takes place over one business week. Each day from Monday to Friday you’re given a list of tasks from a range of weird side characters. At first, you look for some honest work, however, you find anything but that.
Everything you do is messed up in one way or another. Such as catching stray animals and chucking them into chutes and compartments of a van for undisclosed but definitely shady reasons. Whatever the task, it usually ends up with someone or something dying. The few exceptions to this are mind-numbingly tedious. Like a job that has you search for illegally parked cars so you can give them a ticket. I was genuinely surprised at how banal this task was compared to the crimes against humanity I’d committed already.
Shoot First, Think Much Later
Whether the job was unclogging pipes, or getting into shootouts I couldn’t help but feel like most of it was just busywork. Too much of the main campaign feels like it would be an optional side quest in any other open-world game; give or take a couple of ethically questionable actions. I can count on one hand how many times I actually enjoyed a task. By the end, it felt almost like the devs created an open-world playground, realised the player needed things to do, and ran down a list of generic missions to complete.
All of this made me realise Postal 4 lacks a cohesive feel. It’s all just stuck together with the glue of the postal dude needing to take any dirty job under the sun for a crumb of currency. You’re just going from one point to the next occasionally shooting something until the day is done.
However, that leads me to one thing I more or less enjoyed. Shooting things. It’s not to the quality of any major shooter or open-world title that includes guns. It’s an aim and spray that just about gets the job done. Although, in a world filled with pretty uninspired jobs and activities it really makes you appreciate being able to enjoy at least one aspect of gameplay. Edensin is packed to the rafters with guns and ammo, and you won’t go very far before you’ve got an arsenal under your bathrobe. This includes pulling out your johnson to urinate on your enemies, should you wish.
Along with an abundance of weapons, also comes a wealth of consumables around town. Such as unaccompanied slices of pizza on outdoor sofas, and health (read: crack) pipes that you can inhale for a boost of health. But be warned, soon you’ll need another hit, or you’ll get hit with a blow to your HP leaving you questioning whether it was really worth it. There are energy drinks that allow you to dual wield guns, and catnip that can be eaten in order to slow down time while aiming down the sights of a sniper rifle. There are some pretty absurd items that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways to spice up gameplay or give you an edge in a fight.
What a Terrible Place to Live
The relationship between the consumables and combat allows for a little more depth when getting into fights, and with all of these useful items spread out in the world. There’s at least some reward and incentive for exploring Edensin. Unfortunately, actually getting around is another headache. You could go on foot, but the size of the map and distances between objectives means a slow march while your brain turns off and your eyes glaze over. Another way is the vehicle. And I’m sad to say that the previous sentence wasn’t a concord error. Your options include a single kind of vehicle. A mobility scooter.
There are all kinds of cars parked everywhere in town, but you’ll rarely see any in use. Everyone who isn’t walking will be using these scooters, including you. Combining the fact that the map is fairly large and these scooters are fairly slow, makes getting around tiresome. Add into that combo a lack of a radio or any kind of music and you’ve got a silent ride that can only be spiced up with the odd hit-and-run. Licensing may not be cheap, but there’s a fair amount of music as you make your way through the campaign. I’d have liked an option to hear some while driving. Maybe even a couple of royalty-free tracks at least. They don’t even need to be good at this point.
Edensin isn’t exactly easy on the eyes. Full of browns, greys, and greens, the environments are pretty drab. Even if it is somewhat of a desert town. While top-notch graphics aren’t a necessity, a decent art style is and Postal 4 is more than a little unappealing to look at, from the town to the townspeople. At least the aesthetic kind of matches the game’s overall tone.
The missions can be tedious, the world is uninspired, exploration is painful, and the jokes barely ever land. At least it’s got some fun chaos and gunplay to enjoy. Postal 4 is hardly a game I can recommend if you aren’t already a huge fan of the series with some low expectations. Honestly, you may just be better off going back to Postal 2.