Developer Kela van der Deijl • Publisher Freedom Games • Release April 27, 2023 • Reviewed On PC
The sole purpose of Mail Time seems to be offering players a chance to exist in a simply spirit-lifting world. Though it has a rewarding narrative and an overall objective, it has no impenetrable undertones, skill-testing tasks, or brain-teasing puzzles. It is purely a mail delivery adventure game in which everything, from its vibrant characters to its utterly charming world, exudes a heart-lightening, honest enthusiasm that’s hard to resist.
An early demo gave me a glimpse of this sunny landscape and pointed me in the direction of the game’s real destination: Grumblewood Grove. As I arrive in an official Mail Scouts van, my superior, Janet, briefs me on my first solo mission which, when complete, will earn me a badge, making me a full-fledged member of the delivery organization. I just need to get a letter to a reclusive resident named Greg. But my missive has no address and my boss isn’t forthcoming with directions.
She does, however, pass me another letter to hand off to a turtle standing not ten feet away, which seems like an easy way to gain brownie points and other mail-themed badges. The game’s personality is already on full display as Janet — acting as a tutorial — suggests I can use the joystick to walk around “in case you’ve forgotten how your legs work.”
Shelby, the green-clad recipient of my first mail delivery, also immediately shows off another of the game’s strengths. It has a remarkable knack for creating lovable characters and delightful conversations. My shelled friend, on learning my boss is standing within earshot, intentionally projects her profuse praise of my services — minus half a star for refusing her autograph. Then she pulls me into athletic espionage and the game is afoot.
Most of my interactions work this way. An endearing woodland creature sweeps me into their world, filled with hopes, frustrations, or requests which can all be satisfied with a simple delivery or item retrieval. A paranoid caterpillar needs trash, coins will save a borrowing bunny’s skin, and a hatless capybara requires a singular citrus fruit. All the quests give me a straightforward reason to further explore the environment.
And the environment is well worth exploring. Lofty blades of grass, a humble glass jar, a paper origami boat so big I can stand on it, they all fill my heart as I pass by. Walking through this world is like traveling to Disneyland as a kid. Everywhere I go, I’m surrounded by animated life-size objects manifested in gleeful 3D forms.
There are a few technical issues, however, that make this lovely stroll a little bumpy. During dialogues, I was sometimes able to push buttons when I wasn’t supposed to or wasn’t able to push buttons I needed to. This could mean nothing more than watching my character jump during a conversation.
On other occasions, it stopped me from accepting mission rewards and completing objectives. However, to test this last problem, I ran back through a quest in a second run after rolling credits after about three hours. I had no problems at all getting the item and successfully distributing it. So, other players may not ever run into this.
Mail Time is a joy, even with the odd issue sprinkled in. It’s well-paced and, though short, a suitable length to properly dole out its inviting content. The ending wraps everything up in a way that allows me to see my effect on the world and communicate a thoughtful message. It’s not earth-shattering but reflects the game’s refreshing earnestness.
I recommend this game to:
- Mushroom lovers
- Anyone with a couple of hours on their hands
- Collecting fiends
- Those intrigued by the sentence, “The worms whisper their secrets to me.”
- Players that like gliding
- Fans of heart-stealing settings
- Anyone that wants a space to simply experience joy
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