Get your veins ready, folks, because we’re about to inject some stone-cold saccharine wonderfulness straight into them. Welcome to Mail Time, an adorably cute, cozy game about delivering mail to a village full of memorable, funny talking animals. While this game is a delight, its gameplay and story don’t make a clean hit. It’s not a miss — it’s actually a hell of a hit — but unfortunately, we only got three bases, not a home run.
A warm hot cocoa in April
When you start Mail Time, you’re just a little mushroom-hatted junior mail person on your first delivery mission. You’re trying to get some badges and prove this job’s for you. Your supervisor, Janet, is wonderfully snarky but otherwise supportive. She gives you one practice letter to deliver to a turtle, but after that, it’s up to you to find the elusive Greg and deliver your mail.
No surprise, the journey turns into a series of hijinks of carrying letters to and fro between a variety of different characters. Complaint notices, recipe requests, and even love letters all end up in your mail sack. During that time, you enjoy the company of all the unique and fun characters of Mail Time. The story is very simple, but it’s adorable and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Meanwhile, the setting is almost overly cutesy and pastel, but it does so with muted music and soft designs, making every interaction as cozy as it needs to be. On character and atmosphere alone, Mail Time’s a winner.
Floating the gaps
When it comes to mechanics, the ones that Mail Time does have are cute and perfectly fit the vibe of the game. Floating between different zones of the map is soothing and fun, and gives the village an interconnected, lived-in vibe.
However, there are some glaring gaps in Mail Time’s mechanics and tools. The most obvious one is the lack of an in-game map. While it’s fully understandable that fast travel or waypoint markers would simply get in the way of the game’s simplicity, having a pastel-drawn map would help keep you directionally sane during the early parts of the game. The map could even stay blurred until you enter certain areas or meet certain characters. There’s just something deeply frustrating about standing in a beautiful field of yellow flowers three times your height and having absolutely no clue which way is the right direction to go find your new bat friend. And then having to backtrack when you realize you went in the wrong direction.
There are also some collision quirks to the game. For example, it’s easy to wedge yourself under some of the mushrooms and be unable to escape. It happened to me twice. Luckily, the game saves often. Also, sometimes the mouse will register separately from the game’s screen, and you have to hit Alt-Tab to reorient it and be able to click some in-game prompts — even though the prompts insist all you need is the E button.
Mail Time’s biggest problem is that you are capable of accidentally ending the game prematurely. My first playthrough, I was simply exploring and accidentally floated myself up to the snowy mountains, giving Greg his letter and ending the game. I didn’t realize it would do that and had to restart the game to experience Mail Time in full.
After-school out of nowhere
As mentioned, Mail Time’s story was adorable and charming, given its characters and cute, go-getter main avatar. However, the end takes a bit of a weird turn with its message. The “moral” seems to come out of left field. The entire game gives off fantastic communal energy. It’s about how powerful connecting people can be. But then the ending wraps up with a message about the subjectivity of success. Your mentor tells your character to focus on what they have accomplished, not what they haven’t.
That’s a very likable and good message to present, but it feels random as a “final statement” when the game has otherwise been so focused on community. I half-expected that final letter to be the villagers inviting Greg to a party. To remind him that he can be a solitary introvert all he wants, but he’s still part of the community. The bridges to Greg’s snowy mountaintop are broken, after all. As you’ve done throughout the rest of the game for all the other village residents, you would’ve brought Greg closer to his neighbors.
But no. The ending statement of Mail Time was something about failure, which doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the game. It’s not an inherently bad finale, just unsatisfying.
Given Mail Time’s purpose and goal as a cozy vibe game, it does its job very well. The characters are charming, the story is simple and fun, and the world is cute as hell. It gives the same vibe as walking through a botanical garden on a sunny day; warm and comfy and feel-good, without much thought to it. I just wish the story had a little bit more thoughtfulness in creating a satisfying finale in line with its more notable, community-focused themes. Instead, it simply fell a little flat.
If you want a great cozy game to play while you cuddle in a blanket and listen to your favorite music, though, it’s still a very solid game.
Mail Time was reviewed on the PC with a code provided by the team. It is available on PC starting April 27.
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- Charming characters
- Adorable pastel atmosphere and setting
- Great pacing for a simple, cozy vibe adventure
- Lacking helpful in-game tools
- Lackluster finale