by Camrin Santchi
reviewed on PC
Welcome to Grumblewood Grove
Players of the platforming genre of video-games are often spoiled for choice, from 2D classics like the Mega Man series to fast paced 3D adventures like the recently released Sonic Frontiers. More often than not platformers have at least some form of stakes, a time limit or potential to get hurt- which makes the newly released Mail Time a refreshing and relaxed addition to this long-lived genre.
Gamers in Mail Time take the role of a customizable Mail Scout in training who is off on their first assignment, to a charming and teeny world called Grumblewood Grove. You only have one letter to deliver at first, but no idea where the delivery goes since it only has a name and no address, and as you ask the eclectic residents of the Grove for directions you'll end up roped into delivering correspondence for them as well - since Mail Scouts appear to be a charming combination of postal workers and scouting troops, complete with earning patches for achievements in mail delivery.
Relaxing Pace with No Stakes
Tried and true tropes of the platformer genre don't quite exist in Mail Time - there is no time limit, no bottomless pits to fall into, no enemies to avoid - not even fall damage or damage at all! The sole consequence of missing a jump is landing in an area further down in the Grove and needing to work your way back up, meaning the only 'sunk cost' is just a bit of time.
That being said the lack of a map can lead players to being turned around in Mail Time, forgetting where a specific character is when they are supposed to be delivering a letter or other such package to them. This results in gamers needing to go to higher ground and hope their glide ability lasts for long enough to peruse a specific area of the Grove until they spot a distinct landmark that indicates where the character they are looking for is. This is more a mild inconvenience than an outright problem with Mail Time, and it doesn't take long to become accustomed to where each area is in relation to the others.
The characters in Mail Time are rather odd but charming individuals, from a cantankerous squirrel that wants his neighbor a woodpecker to keep quiet to a paranoid caterpillar that requests litter be cleaned up from the Grove - not to merely beautify the place but because apparently worms are using the trash to spy on him. The dialogue is good for a chuckle or two, especially since most conversations in the game are between the Mail Scout and a single other character - to emphasize the need of a Mail Scout to deliver notes and parcels across the Grove, I suppose. This helps emphasize the helpfulness and enthusiasm of your player character so even without voice lines our character as well as the NPCs feel quite real even with the iconic 'voice grunts' that occur as dialogue appears in the boxes, similar to games like Undertale or Animal Crossing.
Short and Sweet
Mail Time is a fairly quick foray into an atmospheric and peaceful platformer, clocking in at only about two or three hours. The game doesn't overstay its welcome, and can actually leave players craving something more. The shortness can lend to replayability since the game isn't a big investment for focus or time like some games these days, and it is very clear that the dev team put a lot of heart and soul into making this game accessible- in multiple senses as well.
Many accessibility options for Mail Time can be accessed from the settings menu to streamline the game or make it easier to play, by adjusting camera controls primarily to make things more comfortable for players, and with the laidback setting and easy to learn controls this game is open to any gamer, even those that are heavily inexperienced with the genre.
Back to Business
In all, Mail Time is a fun, if short, experience that can remind people what it is they love about 3D platforming without requiring a lot of investment to learn controls or plot related subjects. The only real issue from my perspective being the lack of a map. That being said that lack isn't too much of a problem compared to the tranquil and enjoyable atmosphere of this easy-going game, making Mail Time a charming delight of a game that has left this reviewer wanting quite a bit more.
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Relaxing, Slow-Paced, Fun Characters
No Map, Too Short