Mail Time Review – Mushroom for improvement

Reviewed April 28, 2023 on PC


PC, Nintendo Switch


April 27, 2023


Freedom Games


Kela van der Deijl

Bzz bzz! What time is it? Why, it’s Mail Time, little mushroom friend! Billed as a “cottagecore” adventure game, Mail Time is a short 3D platformer full of cosy charm. Originally a student project by developer Kela van der Deijl, this narrative adventure was given new life after an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign in 2022. While it promises a stress-free experience, there’s unfortunately a fair bit of work yet to be done on this game before it can call itself truly relaxing.

Mail Time has you play as a brand-new mail scout tasked to deliver your very first letter to someone named Greg. The problem is, there’s no address! Your kindly mentor suggests that you ask around for more information, and so your mail-hopping adventure through Grumblewood Grove begins. Along the way you’ll be given various letters to deliver and little quests to complete by the animals in the grove. Some of these involve collecting glowing trinkets that are scattered around the map. While you’re scurrying about, you’ll earn prestigious mail scout badges for completing different achievement-style objectives. These are awarded for tasks such as delivering a certain number of letters, gliding for a particular length of time, or completing specific quests.

The whimsy of Mail Time positively oozes off the screen. The autumnal woods you’ll platform through are filled with bouncing mushrooms and larger-than-life flower fields, even featuring an enormous picnic staffed by a very hungry hamster. Its writing is also incredibly charming, taking on a tongue-in-cheek lowercase vibe reminiscent of mid-2016 Tumblr. More than once I drew strong comparisons to the excellent Frog Detective series in both its tone and personality. The animals you encounter have simple interwoven stories that tend to delight. There’s some decent queer representation too: I will forever ship the goose and the snail, who are canonically hopeless lesbians that don’t know they’re flirting. All of this is set to a soundtrack that wouldn’t feel out of place in The Sims. It’s overall a very attractive aesthetic.

“…the only real directive to the player is to wander around and have a nice time.”

There is deliberately no challenge in Mail Time. No enemies will interrupt you, quests can’t be failed, and there’s no fall damage (or damage at all, for that matter). It’s billed as a cosy, stress-free adventure: the only real directive to the player is to wander around and have a nice time. Unfortunately, due to its simplicity, a number of frustrating design choices end up standing out. Menus are extremely difficult to navigate with a controller. There’s no clear indication of where your cursor is until you press a button, and one of the tabs on the inventory screen acts as a close button, meaning you’ll regularly be opening and closing the menu by accident. The dialogue boxes are also plagued by an aggressive pop-up animation that plays with each line of text, making longer conversations jarring to sit through.

3D platformers are tricky to get right – even action-oriented titles like A Hat In Time struggle at times to deliver satisfying controls. For its part, Mail Time’s movement is fairly simple. Other than running and jumping, you can hold the left trigger to slow to walking speed, or press a face button to sit down (very cute). You’ve got a jump, double jump, and a glide, which functions like Breath of the Wild’s paraglider. Confusingly, you will execute a double jump by either double-tapping or holding down the jump button. The timing for whether or not you’ll double-jump feels inconsistent, and led to many moments of frustration where I’d be trying to save my second jump and end up falling.

In addition to these little frustrations, Mail Time is severely impacted by a large number of game-breaking bugs. I ended up needing to play through the game three times. The first time, I accidentally hit “quick start” from the main menu, which immediately erased my save file. The second time, I had somehow glitched my way up to Greg too early and triggered the ending sooner than the game expected. This is in addition to the many times I needed to reset the game because a dialogue box was refusing to leave the screen and blocking my view. Restarting the game so often meant I couldn’t trust that my actions would persist, making it difficult to relax into any sort of flow. I also encountered missed controller inputs, phantom button prompts, and a solid minute where I simply could not jump.

Disappointingly, even Mail Time’s finale is spoiled by bugs. After finally delivering your letter to Greg, you’re treated to a scene involving all of the animals in the grove, where it seems like you’ll get to speak to all of them and see the impact of all of your questing. In this scene, most of the onscreen button prompts to start dialogue do not do anything. Even when they do, the animals’ dialogue does not change based on which quests you’ve completed. This was a real missed opportunity to deliver a satisfying payoff and left a sour taste in my mouth, particularly when my beloved goose/snail couple had literally nothing to say.

When a game aims to be focused and simple, its core experience really needs to be solid. Mail Time offers the idea of a relaxing, cosy little journey, but is sadly marred by lack of polish. It’s an ambitious project to be led by a solo developer, and it’s nice to see that they’re backed by a legion of enthusiastic fans from Kickstarter. Fingers crossed the game will one day permitted the breathing room (and patching) it needs to let its adorable atmosphere and clever writing really shine.




  • Adorable “cottagecore” aesthetic
  • Fun, playful Tumblr-style dialogue
  • Lots of collectables and secrets


  • Numerous game-breaking bugs
  • Frustrating design decisions that detract from the “cosy” experience
  • Inconsistent platforming controls

It’s disappointing to come away from Mail Time feeling more frustrated than relaxed. All of the elements for an adorable, wholesome experience are there: its cast of animal characters are incredibly well-written, its art direction is delightful, and the entire premise is utterly charming. Unfortunately, a litany of glitches and janky platforming controls really disrupt its vibe. While I’m hopeful that its incredibly ambitious solo developer is able to support the game with patches down the track, it’s sadly difficult to recommend Mail Time in its current state.