If ever there were ever a title that could be considered tea and a warm blanket in video game form, it’s Mail Time. Running around the uplifting environment with its colorful palette, enchanting characters, and playful vibe is a balm sure to cure any hard day. Its gameplay feeds into this with uncomplicated and familiar controls that let players effortlessly explore every inch of the world that strikes their fancy. This isn’t a game for challenge hunters, but anyone interested in melting away a few hours in a cheery world should put Mail Time on their radar.
My hands-on demo places me the shoes of an aspiring Mail Scout on their first day on the job. As I ride in the mail van toward my first assignment, the delightful graphics lend the world an arts-and-crafts stop-motion feel. My guide, and the preview’s MVP, is Janet. The veteran scout manages to keep her cool as I excitedly plaster her with questions while she is just trying to eat a sandwich.
The van comes to a halt above a small valley. The landscape looks like a diorama lovingly filled with towering redwood trees and oversized yellow flowers. Birdsong and a playful melody glide through the air as Janet explains my first mission: Deliver a letter to Barb the Hedgehog.
Barb wouldn’t get her letter for a long time.
I can’t resist the urge to peek around the sunny setting’s every corner, and aid the endearing NPCs I find along the path. Some, like Jim the frog, help me to discover the game’s basic controls.
Unsurprisingly, Jim was all about hopping in our short, but animated exchange. However, I don’t expect the mushroom next to him to be bouncy, acting like a trampoline that catapults me into the air where I could try out my letter-turned-glider. Soaring over the bubbling river below, I spot another creature who diverts me even farther from my original mission.
One of my favorite side quests involves collecting bottlecaps hidden around the level to aid a budding romance. Really, there is only one glaring issue with my experience. The camera is inverted by default. A quick visit to the options menu righted this strange misstep, but y’all it was weird.
With nothing left to investigate and a gaggle of new, happy friends, I finally go to deliver my long-overdue parcel. Apparently, Barb decided to build her house in the most out-of-the-way tree she could find, but I made it up to her lofty perch with aplomb. She hands me a letter in return, asking me to carry it off to her son in Grumblewood Grove.
The location’s name promises a stage equally charming as the demo’s, and I can’t wait to amble around with my letter when the game comes out in April. Players interested in checking out the vibe before Mail Time’s spring release can play as their own customized Mail Scout during Steam’s Next Fest in February.