Game: Mail Time
Genre: Adventure, RPG, Indie
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows & macOS) and PS4/5)
Developer | Publisher: Kela van der Deijl (appelmoes games) | Freedom Games
Age Rating: US Everyone | EU 3+
Price: US $19.99 | UK £16.75 | EU € 19,99
Release Date: October 19th, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to Stride PR.
Paula gave her impressions about the demo version of Mail Time earlier this year. Its cute cottagecore style aesthetics certainly bring a smile, but will the Nintendo Switch version be something to write home about?
Time to Make Your Mail Scout
Before you start your adventure, you must create your character. To match with her red fly agaric-styled hat, I named my mail scout Rosie. There are lots of customisation options, including pronouns, skin tones, outfit and backpack colours. There are six different designs for the backpack and glider, all of which are super cute and make it a hard choice before even starting the game!
Off to Grumblewood Grove
Mail Time starts with a drive to Grumblewood Grove. On the journey, you learn that you are being given your first solo delivery as an apprentice mail scout. The task sounds easy: deliver a letter to Greg.
However, before embarking on this very important task, Janet asks you to practise by delivering a note to a nearby resident. Janet explains how to move, and off you go. The dialogue between the characters is charming, humorous and substantial. It’s clear that a huge amount of effort has been made to make each resident of Grumblewood Grove unique and interesting.
Returning to Janet after delivering the note, you receive a patch. Janet explains that the mail scouts work on a patch system. Anything which is noteworthy is rewarded with a patch, and every patch gets you closer to being a real mail scout. With the ultimate aim of getting the Official Mail Scout Patch, which you’ll get when Greg receives his letter.
So, off you go to deliver the letter. But who is Greg? And where do they live? Maybe some of the other residents will be able to help. With a fairly short gameplay, I’ll leave you to find out the answers!
Your handbook keeps track of your current deliveries, mail scout patches and inventory. As well as the means of access to the options and save menu. There is a description for each of the 20+ patches, which certainly helps if you want to collect them all. If you opt to collect everything, you are looking at 4 to 5 hours of gameplay. If you opt just to find Greg, then it takes 2-3 hours. That said, it’s hard not to look for objects or run other errands to help the villagers. It’s so enjoyable talking to them and hearing their stories.
The one thing the handbook doesn’t have is a map. It took me quite a while to work out all the different locations and how they flowed into each other. The grove isn’t massive, but I was forever getting lost in the field of flowers.
However, the best way to see Grumblewood Grove is from the air. I’m not great at parkour, so some of the platforming was a little frustrating, but once up high, the view is amazing. There is no clock, and with the lovely music, it’s definitely relaxing to glide down, and you never know what you might spot!
The controls are straightforward, although you have to hold to glide, which took me a while to get familiar with. Initially, I found the camera movement quite nauseating, but by adjusting the many settings in the options menu, I found a great combination which worked for me.
The Mail Time website details the various options, although not all of these are available in the Switch version, namely: quick start, updating the player within the game, and all of the graphics section. Some of these might be added later, and hopefully, the webpage will be updated to reflect the console version. However, I did find the option menus very frustrating to navigate. It took several attempts to move left and right to get to some of the accessibility options.
The game autosave and there is also a manual save. Unfortunately, there is only one instance of the game per user. The game plays well in docked or handheld mode, but there is no touchscreen functionality.
There were a few niggles, but it didn’t ruin the game for me. I got stuck in a flower, which required a relaunch. Several times, I could not move after talking with some of the residents (although talking to them again released me from their grasp!). The dialogue text is large and easy to read, but the font size within the handbook is a little too small, although the colour-coded characters with icons help determine what deliveries are outstanding.
Mail Time is definitely one to write home about. The short adventure delivers you to the whimsical world of Grumblewood Grove, with its quirky houses and fascinating residents. The imagination in both the scenery and characters makes for a truly delightful experience.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up