Mail Time Review (PC) – Still On Strike

Noody likes their first day at work. Everything is new, your anxiety is high from praying you get nobody’s name wrong, you kind of suck at everything on your first day. Luckily, it is almost a free pass to be able to suck on your first day. Getting to know the ropes is exactly the premise of Mail Time as you embark on your first day working towards being a fully fledged mail scout. 

It’s your first day solo. In Mail Time you can call yourself a mail scout and follow your dreams once you deliver the very first parcel to your recipient, Greg. The only hitch is, is no-one knows where to find him and everyone else has other things on their mind they’d like you to help with. 

A whimsical, cottagecore look, the visual designs are very sweet. Those old enough to remember Sylvanian Families will feel right at home when eyeballing this quaint title. Mail Time is set in Grumblewood Grove, a forest made up of different areas that you can walk or glide into. Who needs the Royal Mail truck when you can just float right into your local swamp? Forest? Or a flower garden?  

Out for Delivery

Gameplay is simple: talk to characters around, and uncover their stories of need, love or mischeviousness. Mail Time works as essentially a fetch quest factory. Explore, climb trees, wade through lakes, or tens of flowers whilst speaking to those around you and gathering letters, packages, and errands to run and deliver. Most characters will always have a few tasks for you. From sending love letters, fraudulent cheques, and just the odd drawing to show off. A variety of tasks to keep you entertained and only minimally feels repetitive when it can feel you might as well scream at the client to ring the person you become the messenger so much. 

This game is truly for those who want something easy, accessible and something to do at your own pace and leisure. There are no time limit pressures, no enemies, no way to ‘die’. So recommended for those who want something that can be done as quickly or as slowly as suits you best. 

Whilst it doesn’t have the biggest range of customisation features, Mail Time doesnt need too. It allows you to customise your skin, hair, clothing, whilst also choosing your backpack and colour and glider and colour. If you’re into cute designs, then you will find it difficult to choose between the hazelnut backpack or the leaf to name a few. Mail Time is also accessible within pronouns which can be changed at any time during the game. 

Track and Trace

One thing I always praise any fetch quest collectible-esque title on, is ‘does it have a log to keep track of everything?’. Boy am I pleased to tell you there is! There is nothing personally worse than being met with the premise of a game largely surrounding the idea of errands for their not to be any log of some sort (yes they exist). So I was very pleased to receive a guidebook almost immediately that captures and logs every task you need to complete as well as any collectibles you may have come across along the way.  It will even do you the pleasure of telling you who the letter is for and who it may be from. 

Interestingly, Mail Time doesn’t have a map, so if you’ve met a character you’ll have to remember where you found them to give anything back you may need too. At first I truly questioned how it would be fun to aimlessly wander around looking for one person. The map isn’t exactly Russia, but it is big enough that the odd person can escape your memory. Although this did become easier over time and actually I did come to enjoy that there was not a map come the end. It did feel much more immeserive that way. 

Dialogue is a large portion of Mail Time considering your character will spend a lot of time speaking to others, delivering letters, whilst also helping the community in its various tasks. The stories are sweet to explore. Quirky at times and even involves a cheeky Paul Rudd Hot Ones nod. There were times where I thought, ‘get on with it’ but you can tell a lot of love has been poured into making this just feel like a very lightweight game to enjoy. 

Return To Sender

Unfortunately for Mail Time, this game is riddled with technical issues and bugs. Right off the press you are met with severe screen tear that never goes away. At times it can be difficult to ascertain depth. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun to climb a big tree to glide off it and see the environment from above. However it becomes difficult if you need to glide to get somewhere and you miss it because the tear shows it a milimeter off and you fall and have to start again. I eventually got used to it, but this is something that never went away. 

I lost nearly 90 minutes of gameplay to needing to restart the game as I randomly lost movement. When trying to reload in, the game never stored my save and acted as if my game was being played for the first time. I want to caveat this with the accessibility features in Mail Time being great in theory. The game can be set to autosave every 15 minutes, but for me that was about as helpful as Evri saying they’ve delivered my parcel only for it to be nowhere to be found. 

In the later stages, my game would freeze any time I received a new item. It would keep the notification of having said item now in my inventory on the scren (you are supposed to be able to select ‘wooooo’ for it to disappear), blocking my whole screen as if it was unpaused. The only ‘fix’ I found for this was memorising the pause menu and saving and quitting out. Don’t get me wrong the first time I did this, I did this with baited breath worried I would lose more progress, but luckily the game would save and continue in the same spot. This continued to happen 4-5 more times, and it took me about an hour to realise that once that happened, the game never properly stored the item in my inventory leaving me almost slowly softlocking myself out of missions. Characters would speak to me as if they were awaiting the item still, and when I tried to give the correct characters the item they would either shoo me away or talk to me as If i was on my way to get it. 

There was nothing I could do at this point but accept that there were four missions I wouldn’t be able to see the end of, but luckily this did not completely shut me out of seeing the game until the end. Frame rate drops and texture popping were also an issue. Nothing like flying towards a picnic blanket for every detail both small and large to come and jump scare you mid air. 

I finished the game within 3 hours, which felt just right. I understand that the development team on Mail Time is very very small, and kudos to the team. I hope that most of the technical issues can be ironed out by release, as I do think there is a lovely game behind the issues. It’s hard to say if this game was much longer, whether I would have continued playing had I not been reviewing this title, given the technical issues, especially if I had lost my save again. 

Mail Time has potential that could meet the popular corner of indie cosy gaming. I felt the game did not overstay its welcome in regards to time. It isn’t doing anything much more than a few collectible items and delivering mail, but for a game as cute and whimsical as this, It doesn’t need to. It is ordinary in nature, and that is okay. The characters are endearing, the overall message is a bit sickly sweet but tells a nice story, and the environment fits a nice astheitc .As the game currently stands, and we all know this can change, that potential will only come if the game is made playable as intended.

Whilst having well paced gameplay, cute cottagecore aesthetic and whimsical environments. Mail Time has been delivered with the video game version of annoying spam; significant screen tear, unfixable features in game impacting the story and texture popping. A lovely game which can only be recommended once the spam is returned to sender.

Mail Time is out April 27th on PC via Steam and Epic Games Store. Following shortly by Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 &5.

Developer: Kela van der Deijl

Publisher: Freedom Games

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here. If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.

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