Getting a new 3D platformer in 2021 is occasion to celebrate, and getting one that’s good can sometimes feel like it has grown increasingly unlikely in recent years. This is why it’s so disappointing to see a game as mechanically sound as Mail Mole be let down by its supporting elements. Mail Mole is a surprisingly good 3D platforming game that takes players out of the moment far too often with its lack of polish, ugly characters, and distracting soundtrack – but buried under the pile of rusty bells and whistles is a diamond in the rough for fans of the 3D platforming genre.
Developed by Undercoders and Talpa Games, Mail Mole is a 3D platforming game where players take control of Molty the mole to deliver mail in light of his cousin’s sudden injury. Simultaneous with Mile’s injured leg, Carrotland is under attack by pirates who continue to steal the island’s energy. Molty must jump, dash, and dig his way through different levels to deliver mail and restore power to Carrotland.
The story is not Mail Mole’s crowning achievement as it can be somewhat difficult to understand what’s happening at certain points in the game. What Mail Mole excels at is its gameplay and level design. Mail Mole only gives the players a handful of controls to work with, but this limited arsenal of movements is refined and makes the game more enjoyable. Players can only jump, dash, and sprint, but these movements can be combined to spice up the gameplay, and Molty controls so smoothly Mail Mole could be mistaken for a AAA title in that sense.
Molty’s impeccable movement wouldn’t be as fun to work with if it weren’t for the game’s fantastic level design. Mail Mole offers traditional platforming levels where each area is divided into four subsections or levels. Each level only takes a few minutes to tackle including collecting all of the level’s carrots. Each level offers its own unique challenge or introduces a new gameplay mechanic that is reused later but never feels like a copy -and-paste. While each level is generally a straight path to the end, there are three hidden collectibles in each one that requires the player to do a bit of exploring. Levels are also designed with speedrunning in mind which allows players to challenge themselves to beat them as quickly as possible.
At its core, Mail Mole is a great 3D platformer, but it’s let down by its lackluster supporting elements such as its characters and soundtrack. Of the small cast that Mail Mole features, Molty and Miles are the easiest to look at. Their design plays on their animalistic features, and they feel like unique characters made specifically for Mail Mole. The rest of the characters look like generic animals from a low-budget animated film. In some instances, especially when the pirates come to steal the island’s power, the characters’ appearances are jarring enough to be unsetling.
Perhaps the worst facet of Mail Mole is its soundtrack. If a good soundtrack can make a bad game bearable, a bad soundtrack can do the opposite to an otherwise great game. Mail Mole’s soundtrack is made up of royalty-free music players have probably heard on YouTube videos hundreds of times prior. Where players expect upbeat jazzy music, they are instead met with a generic jingle. Dodging boulders in a jungle temple feels more like watching a funny cat compilation. Mail Mole is better played on mute or while listening to a different game’s soundtrack. Usually, music doesn’t have a huge impact on the enjoyment of a game, but in Mail Mole’s case, it’s a make-or-break element that leans heavily into the latter.
That being said, Mail Mole is a great 3D platformer with a ton of replayability – it just fails to provide in crucial areas. If players are a fan of the genre and are waiting for the next 3D platforming AAA title, Mail Mole will satisfy that need as long as the player comes prepared to deal with its sub-par characters and soundtrack. Mute the game and look away during cutscenes and players will have a great time with Mail Mole.
Mail Mole is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4. Screen Rant was provided with a digital Steam code for the purposes of this review.