Trapped In Time: A Postal 4 Review

The Postal series does not have a graceful history. Iffy releases, loads of controversy, and a generally acceptable level of jank, these games were never meant to be masterful works of art. They were very much games of their time, in the same vein as Duke Nukem and the like. They were absurd and over-the-top first-person shooters aimed to shock and offend. When Postal 2 released in 2003, my fifteen year old self found the prospect of using stray cats as silencers and urinating on people to be the absolute peak of entertainment. Now, twenty years later, does Postal 4 still bring that type of experience? And will I still enjoy it now that I am a senior citizen?

The story of Postal 4 takes place a few years after the Postal 2 DLC “Paradise Lost”, we find our protagonist “The Postal Dude”, homeless and in a new town. The story, if you can call it that, consists of the player doing random errands on each day of the week for the entire business week. Each day ends with a stay in some random place that attempts to add some level of narrative with very minimally animated cutscenes. You may have noticed, it seems to skip over Postal 3, and you’d be right. To make a long story short, the third game was basically outsourced, and the folks over at Running With Scissors pretend as if it never existed. Anyway, the game has you doing generally mundane sounding tasks as it did with Postal 2…begging for money, finding a part time job, cashing your paycheck, etc. While these sound boring, set within the Postal world, and based off the second game, I knew they would be anything but. A trip to pick up some milk could quickly turn into a fight against the Taliban. While these sorts of “twists” to random errands do happen in Postal 4, they are just…not fun. I found myself irritated every time a task changed into something more complex. Not complex in the sense of being more interesting, but complex as in the player getting forced to make a boring task infinitely more irritating.

The gameplay feels clunky, slow, and unresponsive. Aiming is a chore, and movement feels beyond cumbersome. It’s just not a fun FPS to play. Compare this to the action-based spin off “Postal: Brain Damage”, and it’s honestly depressing. Nothing feels fluid or even really finished. It’s a real shame because I think if the gameplay felt decent, the world itself might be kind of fun to explore and experiment within, much like its predecessor. I found myself tired of the gunplay almost immediately, which was only made worse by the game’s mission design of endlessly throwing more and more enemies at you every time you start a task. While they do attempt to mix things up with a few poor attempts at puzzles or the occasional fire hose mechanic, it just falls flat and feels like you’re stuck in a repeating-hell of a twenty-year-old game design.

One of the more appealing aspects of the series is the arsenal of wacky weapons that are at your disposal. And while Postal 4 does indeed contain a load of crazy weapons, none of them are particularly fun, and most really feel no different from one another. A recurring theme to this release; they just aren’t fun. The most interesting weapon is the Pigeon Mine: an over-filled cage of wild pigeons that can be thrown on the ground as a explosive trap. Original to be sure, but that’s about the extent of its fun. And as with all throwing weapons in the game, the three-second delay between hitting the trigger and the in-game character actually throwing the item causes nothing but pure, complete, severe irritation.

Everything down to the menu and controls just feel wrong. I’m not sure if this just comes down to a poor console port, or just poor design, but it’s awful regardless. I can’t remember the last time when a settings menu felt this clunky. It’s honestly rather amazing. Mix this with baffling game design choices, and I just don’t understand why some things work the way they do.

For example, the checkpoint system auto-saves at various points in missions. This isn’t a bad thing in theory, but I can’t count the times it locked me into an area with no access to any health, dooming me to an endless loop of death and reloading. This, along with the fact that enemies take way more damage than they should, means you have to prepare for an hour-long slog of killing one enemy at a time for every reload. This happened to me on more than one occasion, and it honestly might have been one of my worst experiences in a game that I can remember.

The game is rife with glitches as well. Most are rather minor visual and geometry bugs akin to any Bethesda release, some break quests and one even locked me out of continuing the story. I’m not sure if a day one patch is coming, but to release a game in this state, at this price tag, is shocking to say the least. I’m not sure if it’s lack of funds, time, or care. But it’s a real shame regardless of the reason.

That said, I hate to rip on this game too hard, as I can see what they were going for. And from what I gather from the pre-release updates on PC, the team do seem to really care about the game and the community. I just think they may be ill-equipped to put out a game on the scale they envisioned.

The classic Postal humor is still there, but it didn’t seem to mature on any level over the last two decades. Things that might have made my teenage self laugh, now mostly result in an eye-roll or a slight cringe. It’s all very surface level, and it is more in-line with something your dad would post on Facebook, rather than any sort of clever satirical look at pop culture. That’s not to say I didn’t chuckle at a few jokes, but those laughs were very, very few. I suppose it stays true to its roots, but I can’t help but compare it to seeing an old high school friend that didn’t change a single bit since you saw them last. It’s a nostalgic idea initially, but once you’re there with them, you can’t help but feel embarrassed and sad.

The hardest thing about this release is seeing the little glimmer of light hidden within the mess. I enjoyed exploring random houses and businesses, and looking for little Easter eggs or hidden areas. Much like the original games, I wanted to see everything in the world. And while I was mostly greeted with nothing of note, every now and then a hidden gem would be lurking inside a shack or mobile home. I think it is this aspect of the game that captures the core fun of both this release and the originals. Exploring a dirty, exaggerated slice of Americana. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to hold up the rest of the wreckage.

In the end, Postal 4 feels like a sequel that should have released a year after the second entry, not two decades later. It feels dated, unpolished, and just plain not fun. I have fond memories of playing Postal 2, and wanted so badly for this game to reignite those feelings, but it does no such thing. It’s a real shame. I can’t recommend this title to really anyone, as even those with fond memories of playing the second game will find this one to bring up bile in the back of your throat, rather than a warm feeling of nostalgia. Maybe more updates can tighten things up. Maybe it’s better on PC. But as of right now, the PS4 and PS5 release is not something I would want to dive back into.

Postal 4: No Regerts




  • An old school video game in every sense of the word
  • Contains Twin Peaks references


  • Glitchy beyond glitchy
  • Incredibly clunky controls
  • Feels unfinished

Justin Ortiz

Introduced to video games when he was only five, after dying somewhere around four thousand times while playing Star Tropics, he never looked back. Some of his favorites range from titles like Shenmue and Metal Gear Solid 3 to Half-Life 2, Manhunt, and the Dark Souls series. Justin has a passion for vinyl records, and loves to collect video game memorabilia. If he had one wish, it would be to travel back to 1984 Miami.

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