Think of your average married man living the American Dream. He moves to a new town hopefully looking for enough work to earn a few bucks to keep the wife from complaining, the dog fed and keep the wolves from the door. What could possibly go wrong when living with No Regerts?
Genre: Action, Adventure
Developer: Running With Scissors
Publisher: Running With Scissors
Release Date: 14 Oct, 2019
It’s been a while since I visited this place. It’s kind of weird being back here after being gone so long. All my stuff seems to have vanished. This place has been shuttered and abandoned for a while now. It’s a bit dark, dank and smelly, but that is how I left it so I guess not all that much has changed. Luckily I have something that can pierce the dark, it’s the Indie Spot….uh oh, it usually turns on when I do that. I guess it makes sense not to work. If no one has paid the electric bill for a while, the power company would eventually turn off the juice to this location. Luckily there is a backup generator around someplace since a lot of good memories are centered here. The memories arise from the first serious news post to the slow descent into madness with content that could be found carved into the walls of any local asylum showing where I made my mark. Sure, I could make a used car salesperson blush with some of the aggrandizing posts about the company but any good PR person worth their salt will use all their power to help build the brand in any way possible. The thing was the posts were deliberately written with finesse, combining humor with promotion to make something that you would enjoy reading even though you knew it was doing its best attempt to sell you everything it could. It was easy to do as I both enjoyed the marketing game and enjoyed writing about it so much that it helped bring the company from obscurity up to the point where I wasn’t even needed anymore. Running With Scissors was back on the map! Ah, here we go, this should just about do it. No, that isn’t a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel; it’s the Indie Spotlight this time featuring POSTAL 4. Hmm… still, nothing shining from the Indie Spotlight, I guess it truly is dead. Oh well, it seems I will have to stay in the dark, but the good news is you don’t have to suffer the gloom with this illuminating Preview of POSTAL 4.
If it wasn’t clear from my opening note, I used to work with Running with Scissors back in the day. I was their PR person, Social Media and also helped with Quality Assurance of Paradise Lost and POSTAL 2’s Steam edition. One of the many things I did there was write the Indie Spotlight which was basically honest reviews of other company’s games. It was an experiment that kind of took off. Despite the fact the POSTAL 2 and Paradise Lost reviews were written with a complete bias (they were marketing posts after all), this preview is totally unbiased, so you don’t have to worry about that. The Indie Spotlight, with tongue in cheek, very possibly would have said it was the greatest game in the world and most likely commented on how the bugs were actually added as interesting features, but I won’t be taking that route with this game. I will also try (but not promising) to keep it more serious and forgo the RWS style humour!
Looks like someone has a case of the Mondays. Currently at the time of writing this, although I believe the game intends to cover all the days of the week, only Monday is available to play and even that isn’t completed. The game is a bit of a buggy mess with textures that mix both higher definition and blown up low definition. Some stuff is blurry while others are fairly sharp and clear. It’s a lot of place holders that will eventually be replaced with something proper or so I would hope. The save feature doesn’t actually exist at this point so any time I turned off the game I would have to restart from the very beginning. Luckily, or unluckily depending on your point of view, there isn’t much content right now so there wasn’t that much to redo. There are really only a sparse few things to do in POSTAL 4: No Regerts at the moment. You can wander around aimlessly collecting items (and cats) while relieving yourself quite comfortably or you may choose to do the story quests.
The story quests are formulaic, just like they were in POSTAL 2 and Paradise Lost. You have to complete three or so tasks then move on to the next day, except we only have the one day right now. Of the 3.5 tasks that you need to do, one has a lot of substance to it. It has you exploring the sewer system and completing multiple tasks while down there. It was actually the first of the three I attempted and is the one that taught me that the save feature doesn’t actually exist. I then redid it after completing the other two missions just to have the game abruptly end at that point with a throwback to the time before going on those tasks in the first place. One of the tasks was very basic and I am sure once the game is more developed will have a bit more substance to it. It involves having to lead five dogs and catching five cats and giving them to a person who may or may not be planning on eating them. All of the animals are basically right outside the area leaving me to believe this particular task is still in the design stage and not meant to be left in its current state. The last task also feels a bit like it is still being fleshed out but has enough content in place that I am not entirely certain. It was enjoyable as is although I think there will be more elements added to it before the game is done. The point five in the three-point five tasks is when you first start the game it teaches you the basics of item interaction and has you wander to the main task giver doing a very familiar task to the series. You are not signing petitions or looking for your dog this time but it is the same basic idea. All in all, so far POSTAL 4: No Regerts is shaping up to be a pretty decent entry into the POSTAL series.
Do you hate walking everywhere? Don’t you wish you could just get where you want to go without having to laboriously move your legs? If you answered yes, then mobility Scooters may be right for you! The POSTAL Dude has the option of getting on a mobility scooter and racing around town. It doesn’t actually feel that much faster and it does have a few issues right now, but it is definitely a welcome addition. The scooters are so very tippy that you may find yourself uncontrollably crashing fairly often. Also, it tends to clip into things and become immobilized permanently but I’m sure that is likely just a quirk of the game being in early alpha rather than being a serious concern at this time.
In fact, clipping is actually a pretty serious issue in the game right now. Often times you will enter into a story task building/area and you will fall through the floor into the abyss and eventually respawn elsewhere. Sometimes, especially when using the scooter, I found you will pass through solid objects that suddenly become solid again moments later trapping you in there until you get off the scooter or fall through the ground. Impact detection is a bit of a problem in the more fleshed out task as well. You need to block the steam vents to prevent yourself from getting burned, but even if you have the vent blocked visually the steam appears to visually shoot right through the solid object and still burns you so odds are the box you tried to block it with just doesn’t register as a solid object capable of blocking. I mean it is entirely possible that something else was meant to be used to turn off or block the steam, but I used what I had on hand. It didn’t hurt that bad anyway so I mostly ended up just running through it taking the hits.
Let’s talk about the graphics some more. POSTAL 4 does look flashier than POSTAL 2 in many places. In other places it looks worse. One of the first things you are greeted with is a nice cutscene recapping the major series details you should be aware of and then sets the stage as to why the POSTAL Dude is there and what he has to do. This comic book style introduction really fits the series and I have to say was the best part of POSTAL 4 so far. The narrator does an impeccable job. After that scene is over you get your first proper look at the POSTAL Dude’s new character model. There is a decent amount of detail involved but there are a few texture issues here and there. Walking forward is where it gets interesting. There are your standard definition graphics all around except on some of the objects that appear like they were made for a smartwatch screen and then blown up to 1080p by just stretching it. It is incredibly blurry and looks horrible. This also impacts some of the billboards and other textures in town. Luckily this is most likely due to the fact they are placeholders rather than the final textures. They may even be old POSTAL 2 textures they tossed in for a bit of nostalgia and whimsy, POSTAL 2’s classic bank billboard is in POSTAL 4 so that leads me to believe that is the case here and they just don’t work well in the new engine or at higher resolutions. The town itself looks pretty well constructed. It’s got a lot of barren areas but each of the houses that are explorable has a reasonable number of rooms and random objects laying around to look at. The NPCs all are pretty decent looking and have enough variety to keep them interesting.
The Narrator has to be the best part; there I said it (again actually). The voice of the Narrator is gruff and smooth at the same time. The kind of voice you would expect to be trying to sell you whiskey or to be riding a horse while talking to you or maybe just going bowling. The Dude on the other hand also talks once again, but he has a different voice actor this time. His voice does sound very similar, although, to a dedicated POSTAL fan such as myself, it is different enough to notice. It’s a familiar voice though, just not from the POSTAL series. The general sound effects are on par with the previous POSTAL game, POSTAL 2, because POSTAL 3 never existed; prove me wrong, you can’t! [Editors note: Postal III exists, but not POSTAL 3, a different developer made Postal III and RWS barely even notices or acknowledges its existence.] The NPC voice acting is well done although a bit repetitive. Overall, sounds good so far.
Controls and User Interface
The controls are straightforward enough. Before starting the game there is a splash screen that shows you all the keybindings. They are fairly intuitive and were not hard to memorize. Aiming and shooting feels fairly forgiving for the most part although it isn’t so forgiving that you can just blindly fire and hope to hit something. The user interface is still a work in progress but what is functional in it seems to work well. The only real issue I had was with the scooter and I actually think that was on purpose. It isn’t the most stable vehicle in real life and unless you are in the experimental third-person view, it is kind of hard to control properly.
So, should you pick up POSTAL 4: No Regerts? That’s a hard call at this point. The game is janky. It even says so in the build number. It’s a bit buggy and not even 20% complete at this point. You will likely blast through Monday in an hour or so and be left with nothing else to do. If you want to support the development and give feedback that may shape the game, then now is a great time. Who knows, your ideas could become part of the greatest POSTAL game ever. If you are itching for an all-new, ready to play POSTAL game you may wish to hold off just a bit until it is complete, otherwise you will find yourself replaying Monday until you are overly tired of it. Without the ability to save you can’t even wait for Tuesday to come to continue your game, you will need to start from scratch. All in all, it looks like it should be another interesting title in the POSTAL series. If it can rise up enough to beat its legacy is something eagerly anticipated but with the temporarily unfinished content, is yet to be seen. In the meantime watch out for the POSTAL Dude. He is heading your way and since the game is incomplete his aim is not all that straight…