Controversy can be a great selling point for video games. Back in the day, Dead Space 2 tried to force controversy by having one of the least-liked advertising campaigns of all time, and Acclaim basically only used controversy for their marketing. One of the most well-known controversy-driven games was Postal, an arcade-esque murder simulator that was Hatred before that game was even a glimmer in an edgelord's eye. After about 24 years Postal 4: No Regerts is finally about to make its debut, and will this one manage to be as shocking and controversial as the original? Probably not.
Postal 4: No Regerts is much like the last two Postal titles in that it's a first-person shooter. More than that, it's a first-person shooter that is "edgy". From start to finish Postal 4 is filled with gross-out humor, sexual references, and buckets of violence left, right, and center. You'll be transported right back into your teenage years if your teenage years were spent laughing at South Park and Drawn Together. It won't be long before you're cringing yourself stupid over the kind of jokes you would have found funny several years, and millions of brain cells earlier in your development.
The first thing you'll notice about the game is probably the fact that it runs like total arse, probably fitting since the graphical settings have been renamed from "low" to "buttsauce". Hilarious. Even worse is that the game looks about as good as it runs. The levels don't look that much better than Postal 2, a game that is now 18 years old. The textures are even worse. 90% of the time they're completely unreadable, and when you enable the built-in "fix" for the problem, performance tanks even worse.
The most charitable thing that can be said about the game's performance is that Postal 4 is still in alpha. Hopefully, by the time the game actually comes out these performance issues will have actually been fixed. Of course, that won't necessarily make the game good, but at least it won't give you a headache to play, at least not because of the framerate anyway. The gameplay, on the other hand, might be a little harder to fix.
Postal 2, for all its edgelord humor, at least had an interesting take on gameplay. The conceit of the game was that you had a week's worth of tedious menial tasks to complete, and you had to see how long you could keep doing them before giving up and going on a murder rampage. The principal problem with that idea was the shooting in the game wasn't all that fun, so after hilariously getting bored of queuing for milk and killing everyone in the store, you'd just be left feeling unsatisfied by the whole affair.
Does Postal 4 do anything to fix that issue? So far, not really. While content updates have been relatively frequent, fixes for performance, bugs, and improvements don't seem to be forthcoming. At least, if these sorts of updates are coming through I'd hate to have seen the game a few months ago. Realistically, if the game is trying to sell itself through early access, it doesn't need more content. It's already a total slog making it through the content the game already has.
What Postal 4 really needs, is some dedicated bug-fixing, and major improvements to how the game actually plays. It's all well and good giving me weapons and telling me to go ape on a town inhabited solely by the world's most annoying stereotypes, but if shooting feels like just as much of a chore as the rest of the gameplay, it's not that much of a reward. It's not even that the tasks you're given are that overly complicated or annoying, it's just that actually getting around to do them is a complete pain.
Your main way of traversing the sandbox is to ride around in these little motorized scooters that old people go to the shops on. They handle fine, but no one in the town has any self-preservation instinct. Pedestrians and pets wander across the roads like they've got nothing to worry about, and then have the gall to get upset at you when you mow them down in your mobility scooter. Fortunately, most of the cops are braindead anyway, so it's pretty easy to hide behind a parked car until your wanted bar ends.
Right now, most aspects of Postal 4 just don't really work, both metaphorically and literally. The performance is awful, the gameplay is buggy and stiff, and the entire thing looks like it was made about 20 years ago on a Windows XP machine. The only saving grace that might have saved it is being funny, and it just isn't, at least not to me. Luckily humor is subjective, so maybe you will find it funny, but honestly, it doesn't really feel like the game was trying that hard to be funny yet.
The one joke that I not only found funny but was very on-point, was the time a bunch of white feminists literally ran over some Mexican artists so they could violently attack me for painting over their artwork. Not only is that an actual joke, but it's also topical and relevant to modern life, but it's the only joke that feels that way. The rest of the jokes could have been done in the second game and made just as much sense then, not the sign of a brand of comedy that has moved with the times.
In short, there's not much to recommend Postal 4 to anyone right now. Unlike the first game, it doesn't have semi-decent gameplay, and unlike the second, it's unlikely that anyone actually cares how offensive it's trying to be so you can't piss off your parents with it. You might find it funny if your brand of humor matches it exactly, but that's a pretty rare chance. If the developers can fix all the bugs, improve performance, and make the gameplay actually feel enjoyable, then there's a chance that it will be worth your time on release. Right now, I wouldn't bet on it.
TechRaptor previewed Postal 4 No Regerts on PC Via Steam with a code provided by the developer.