We live in a time where everything is so immediate and accessible. Sometimes, we get lost in the momentum of it all. When life can feel so fast, solo developer Kela Van Der Deijl grounds players to pause and smell the flowers in Mail Time.
Published by Freedom Games, Mail Time is a cozy, light platforming exploration game. With evergreens stretching high toward the clouds, the forest is expansive and yours to traverse. There isn’t a collectible that’s too out of reach as blades of grass and branches extend outwards as landing and jump-off points. Embracing you with warmth are florals of purple, red, and yellow scattered about. This is Grumblewood Grove. A hidden forest inhabited by equally warm and endearing critters.
Players enter Grumblewood Grove as a Mail Scout in training. Guided by a veteran mail carrier, Janet, our character will jump and glide delivering messages to and fro. Our aim is to be a real Mail Scout carrier. The problem is: where is Greg? Players are initially tasked to find and deliver an important letter to Greg. Doing so will deem us a true, honorary Mail Scout. Not knowing where Greg resides, players set forth to explore the Grove.
The forest is large (mainly because we are cute and small) but not overwhelming. There’s a whimsical charm that makes time feel like it is in our control. It counters our human tasking habits in our every day where time gets the best of us. There’s no rush in the Grove. No true immediacy to execute. Even with a few deliveries on deck, it’s just cozy. Easy.
Passing through and by charming cottages, players earn patches delivering letters for its Grumble Grove residents. Patches help upgrade your status of being a Mail Scout in training. Given that, with each completed delivery request players are closer to locating Greg. It’s not just about delivering mail, however. Players also gather collectible items like mushroom samples by bouncing on them or gathering coins misplaced in the environment per senders’ or receivers’ delivery requests.
Item collection and backtracking felt tedious at first, but reaching newer heights and wider leaps made the experience enjoyable. Oddly placed items serve as a challenge to get to and encourage exploration in a setting that is 3D and cel-shaded. Aesthetically, it whispers to childhood memories of simpler times through its light-hearted cartoonish, artistic expression that feels familiar and safe.
The world of Grumblewood Grove is a big place for a tiny you. A customizable character design readies itself for players to feel a little more immersed. From pronouns to choosing which backpack style players want to hold their mail in, it stays simple and true to the charming design and atmosphere felt throughout the game.
From the low land of the swamp to the higher ground of a pastel brunching picnic blanket, players will never feel lost. Each new area is designed with distinct environmental differences, making navigation a breeze. Looks aside, the music shifts from area to area. This adds refreshing various points of comfort for each player to have a new sense of welcome and ease.
Mail Time is simplicity at its finest. It feels like a camping trip or a hike. It’s an escape. It’s a breather from titles that are far longer with big story plots coupled with handfuls of objectives. As I hop and glide through the world, I often found myself encouraged to stop. So I did. I paused at the tallest branch I could scale and admired the view before me. Gliding, a function used to help platform, would feel so freeing after taking the sights in.
Mail Time is a simple game with a simple reminder we often forget to hold onto when the world often can make us feel like we should run instead of walk. Planting my character beneath tall overhanging lavenders, eventually, I understood what I needed to feel from my time in Grumblewood Grove. Once I did that, everything felt so much lighter. Any gripes I had with the game were met with my own personal feelings of immediacy. While Mail Time is a short hop and glide through the forest, it is impactful in the most unexpected way. Understated and simply so from beginning to end.
Mail Time is now available Mac, and PC with console releases later this yer.
Mail Time is a simple game with a simple reminder we often forget to hold onto when the world often can make us feel like we should run instead of walk.
Katherine is a writer and occasional Twitch streamer often found sharing her fondness for most things indie and diverse. Covering video games and tv/film she hopes to inspire thoughtful conversation for titles in these mediums.