Released in October 2023 on the Nintendo Switch, the indie title Mail Time is a cottage-core and adventure 3D platformer ideated by one person and brought to life with the help of a small team. You play as a Mail Scout delivering mail and fulfilling the requests of forest animals. With a pretty pastel aesthetic and pleasing music, Mail Time is a pleasant but brief respite from the troubles of the real world. As there’s not much substance to its storyline or characters, this title is likely best for 3D-platforming fans seeking to escape into a cosy, endearing daydream.
Mail Time is the product of a tiny team, and I appreciate the conscious effort put into accessibility features for those with different impairments, disabilities, and access needs. The official site has an entire page dedicated to accessibility. As the page says, the indie game was mostly created by one person, so they were limited in what they could achieve, yet, they did their best to follow the game accessibility guidelines – which is a living document outlining basic, intermediate, and advanced features.
You can even publicly access Mail Time’s accessibility checklist spreadsheet, highlighting what has been implemented. Some of these details include huge text, colour-coded characters (with pics next to their names in the text), audio sliders, camera assist, and eight languages.
The whimsical Mail Time allows you to customise your character’s features, clothing, bag, and glider. The game’s pastel colour palette is pleasing and the character designs are cute, such as the character portraits that depict expressive emotions. Actually, the main aspect that piqued my interest in the game is its lovely illustrative style, reminding me of Animal Restaurant, an adorable phone game where you play as cats running a restaurant for various animal patrons.
However, unlike the 2D Animal Restaurant, Mail Time is a 3D platforming experience, offering a charming forest to run, jump, and glide around in with your bee companion. As it's your first day as a Mail Scout, the game’s minimalistic plot – which can be completed in two hours – focuses on fulfilling the relaxing requests of the assorted forest dwellers. These are primarily fetch quests, where you’ll locate and collect items to deliver to each creature (but, like in Detective Pikachu Returns, you receive no real reward for finishing those requests, other than scout badges).
The forest inhabitants have distinctive personalities, and the game exudes a cheeky, cutesy humour kind of similar to Mineko’s Night Market – which is fun, although I did occasionally find it to be a bit much in Mail Time. Lastly, the cottage-core vibe is complemented by lovely but repetitive-sounding music.
- Conscious effort towards accessibility features
- Pretty illustrative style
- Cute humour
Mail Time lacks a map, which I guess is part of the point: The cottage-core game wants you to do things the old-school, snail mail way. The lack of navigational assistance also helps to extend the short game’s playtime. But for those of us who are not huge fans of 3D platformers, the lack of a map can get a bit irritating when we’re trying to navigate around. And, personally, I probably prefer a cutesy 2D illustrative aesthetic compared to a 3D one. But I value the detail and effort that went into translating those 2D character portraits into a three-dimensional environment.
Speaking of which, the game seeks to immerse you in the overall cosy, cottage-core atmosphere and the joy of 3D platforming in such a realm. But what this means is that the storyline kind of takes a back seat, and as just mentioned, can be finished in a couple of hours – or at your own leisurely pace. Despite its brevity, the game still feels quite slow; Mail Time is more snail mail than express post.
Like Detective Pikachu Returns, this offering is probably more oriented towards the young and young at heart. It’s a good choice to keep kids entertained for a few hours, but I’m not sure if there’s enough meaty substance to the game for many adults, except if you love a cosy cottage-core ambience and/or 3D platformers.
This is a minor criticism, but I found that the way the speech text bubbles pop onto the bottom of the screen bothered me. There are so many of them, as the big font size means that each text bubble has minimal text. Having said that, I do understand why they went for larger text. And the bigger and smaller text for LOUDER and softer speech was a fun choice.
I appreciate the attention paid to accessibility features, especially considering the game is largely produced by one person. But I noticed a couple of features that would’ve improved accessibility without being overly difficult or expensive to include.
The character’s book includes tabs for Deliveries, Inventory, Mail Scout Patches, options, save, and quit. However, the last three tabs are not explicitly labelled as Options, Save, and Quit. Another thing to do with the book UI is that your fetch quests are listed under the Deliveries section, but the text describing each request is quite tiny – even for those with pretty good eyesight – and there’s no option to click/select individual quests, which could have brought up a text box with larger writing.
- No map
- Short game; minimal plot
- Text bubbles popping up
- Book’s labels/text could’ve been improved
Final Score: 6/10
Mail Time is a thoughtful achievement for a single developer working with a miniature team. The whimsical game will delight cottage-core enthusiasts who want to venture – and literally float – around in a 3D-platform landscape. But the title’s lack of map and depth, and its brevity, may put off other players.
Thank you for checking out our Mail Time Switch review, thank you to Freedom Games (via Stride PR) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: