Road 96 Review - I Would Walk 500 Miles

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Petria, the fictional country at the center of Road 96, is in rough shape. Throughout 1996, the country is gripped by political turmoil--now, a moderate-leaning candidate is threatening the long-standing regime of a totalitarian dictator while a growing resistance threatens to send the country's youth boiling over and into a full-on revolution. Add to that a growing number of teenagers seeking life outside of the country's walled borders and you've got a recipe for potential disaster on election day. This is what each of Road 96's procedural journeys delicately build towards with some strong character writing and entertaining gameplay vignettes, even if the central conflict is too reductive with its overall messaging.

Each episode of Road 96 puts you in control of a faceless and nameless teenager--one of many looking to escape Petria by making the dangerous journey to its border and attempting to get over its oppressive wall. You're given the choice between three teens before a run, each with different starting attributes that dictate how much cash you initially have on hand, your overall energy, and your distance from the border. The first two are the most important to consider as cash can open numerous interactions throughout the run--such as purchasing food, bribing cops, or paying off smugglers--while energy governs whether you're able to continue a run at all or not. If your energy reaches zero, you pass out on the side of the road and await arrest, sending your teen to a labor camp and ending your run immediately. You replenish energy by resting or buying food, while completing small odd jobs or just scavenging for money, so finding a balance between the two is crucial to a successful run.

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Postal 4: No Regerts Review - Nothing But Regrets

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The Steam page for open-world first-person shooter Postal 4: No Regerts markets it as, "The long-awaited true sequel to what's been fondly dubbed as 'The Worst Game Ever,' Postal 2!" If developer Running With Scissors' goal was to live up to this legacy and maybe even outdo itself, then it succeeded with aplomb. Postal 4 is an abysmal video game. It's mind-numbingly dull, its combat is unenjoyable and lifeless, its humor is unfunny, and it's plagued by myriad technical issues, glitches, and crashes. This is a series that gained traction by courting controversy at a time when pearl-clutching over video game violence was world news. Postal 4 can't even claim to be problematic, as its bloodshed is notably tame by today's standards, and any jokes that might be considered offensive are too focused on lazy stereotypes to be considered noteworthy.

Postal 4's basic setup sees the Postal Dude return along with his loyal canine companion, Champ. After taking a pitstop and forgetting to lock their car, the pair's vehicle, trailer home, and all of their earthly possessions are stolen, leaving them stranded at the side of the road with nowhere to call home. Fortunately, the fictional town of Edensin, Arizona is located just over the horizon, so the unlikely duo head there in search of employment and their stolen items.

Much like previous games in the series, you're given a different set of errands to complete each day, from Monday through Friday. These are mostly menial tasks like changing lightbulbs in the sewer, convincing people to sign a petition, and taking on the mantle of a prison guard for the day. Others are slightly more unusual, including one errand that tasks you with launching disillusioned Americans over the Mexican border using a makeshift catapult. The one thing all of these objectives share in common--and I can't stress this is enough--is that they aren't fun to engage with in any way, shape, or form. This is probably intentional in some cases, but to what end? Postal 4 doesn't offer a satirical critique of capitalism or anything like that; the game is just designed around dull busywork that proves more effective than any sleeping pills. Eventually, these odd jobs add more and more firefights, whether you're getting involved in shootouts with border patrol agents or an anti-bidet cult.

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