Tchia

Review: Tchia

When the preview of Tchia came across our virtual desks earlier this year, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Not only was it an open world I wanted to explore, but it was one that showcased the love and care that the developers had for their homeland and the creation it was based upon.

I’m happy to report that Tchia remains a beautiful exploration into a culture and adventure that constantly rewards you while wrapping you in a welcoming look and feel not seen by other titles in the genre. It does shift its focus to a more serious tone at times, but it still manages to maintain its charm throughout.

Family, Friends, and Culture

Inspired by the island of New Caledonia, Awaceb takes you to a world of culture, family, support, and adventure:

Inspiration was taken from the rich and varied local landscapes, cultures, music, languages, folklores and traditions to create a fictional world and to tell a universal story that anyone can understand and enjoy.

Tchia follows a young girl whose father was taken by a not-so-friendly ruler. Your end goal is to get him back, but everything around you constantly creates a pleasant, meaningful trek throughout the islands. You are free to explore everything the game has to offer at your own pace. Want to climb a mountain and shout from the mountain tops? Go for it! Want to take your boat on a leisurely trip from coast to coast? Feel free! On one hand, it’s nice to be able to play as freely as possible, but on the other, I did find myself forgetting about my initial goal from time to time… which felt a little strange.

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Some interesting and fantastical elements are introduced after a few hours of play (though, it could be sooner than that depending on how much exploring you do). I will refrain from spoiling exactly what happens as each new character and area brings with it a distinct sense of wonder. It changes the tone quite a bit, at least for a while, but it also presents you with a really great way to explore new locales and meet new people.

The Spirit of Jumping

Tchia allows you to play with some familiar abilities as you make your way around the region, but it’s how they all work together that made my time with the game even more enjoyable. There’s jumping, climbing, sliding, and gliding. It’s a blast to run, slide, jump onto a tree, swing off of that, and glide onto one of the many white sandy beaches. The jumps are quite “floaty” so it may not work for everyone to start, but I assure you that as you progress you’ll appreciate the rhythm of the traversal. But wait, there’s more!

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The biggest, most unique, and frankly most fun mechanic in the game is called “soul jumping.” Tchia is able to jump or transform into nearly any object or animal and control it. For example, one of the things I found myself doing was finding a bird to soul jump to. Once I did that, I was able to fly high up into the sky, glide close to my destination, and jump back out of the animal in time to safely land on the ground. You can do this in a multitude of areas and use the capabilities of anything from a dolphin, crow, lizard, crab, deer, rock, lantern, and dozens more.

This isn’t just used for exploration, but also to defeat some of the enemies throughout. It is so much fun to jump into a fire log and toss it at the baddies made of cloth and paper and see them burn into little pieces.

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This ability is limited to a green bar at the bottom of the screen that runs out over time. This can be upgraded through certain challenges that are just as fun as the ability itself. It’s another aspect of Tchia that I really appreciated. The devs have found a number of ways to take that type of progression away from the popular method of XP points and talent trees. Instead, I found myself diving deep into totem carving in order to unlock secret caves, which housed mini-challenges. Once completed, my soul jumping bar become larger and I was able to string together more traversing combos and travel in more distinctive ways. No need for new flashy talents, just a good old-fashioned status bar upgrade that made my travelling and battling that much more fun.

Tchia Ramps Up The Action

This never turns into a full-on action RPG or anything along those lines. But, a few hours into the main story, you’re tasked with destroying and sabotaging factories. Think of these as bases, or camps in games like Assassin’s Creed or Fall Cry. It’s around this time of my playthrough that I noticed the fantastical elements of Tchia really ramping up, along with the action.

I didn’t love the tonal shift at first, I found it quite jarring, but after a couple of the factories were behind me I grew to appreciate the gameplay loop. Plus, the narrative was good enough that no matter what I had to do, I was willing to save the day and light a literal fire under the butts of these baddies!

For those looking to tackle trophies in a big open-world experience, here’s the official account confirming it won’t take multiple playthroughs or runs in order to achieve that coveted platinum.

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A Learning Experience

Whether you’re combing through forests for a fruit that will boost your stamina meter, collecting chests with cosmetic items, or defeating enemies; Tchia always goes out of its way to teach you about the real-world culture of New Caledonia and its people. Especially early on, you’re presented with dozens of opportunities to learn about landscapes, food, animals, residents, and my favourite of all: the music.

Some of the story beats in the game are accompanied by a wonderfully fun and charming music number. With Tchia’s trusty and magical ukulele, you can not only do things like change the time of day but also take part in elaborate and catchy songs and dances. It’s enjoyable to play along with the great music, but the game also lets you press the left thumbstick and just sit back and watch the magic. The interaction isn’t necessary, there’s no fail state, and I think that’s a welcome addition. It not only provides accessibility but doesn’t add any undue pressure to the joyful occasion being played out before you. I loved to just lean back and appreciate the orchestrated show in front of me.

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There are also lots of opportunities to learn about wildlife and items in Tchia. If you discover something new, it’s added to your journal and a description accompanies it in your menu.

Beautiful From Ocean To Sky

Tchia sings. Literally and figuratively. This game is beautiful. Whether it be the excellent water effects as you swim or zip across the surface with your boat, or the music that accompanies you and perfectly reflects the feeling and wonder of each and every area; all of it is an amazing sensory experience. The game also has a playful sense of humour as well. It’s fitting as you play as a young girl and see the world through her eyes.

The characters, animals, and landscape itself embrace their cartoony look that fits the overall presentation very well. The welcoming feel of the game is translated from start to finish. The presentation of Tchia quickly became one of my favourite elements of the game.

You’re also able to customize your outfit, ukulele, and boat quite a bit. Unlockables aren’t XP tokens or newly advanced weapons (your slingshot and soul jump are just fine thanks!), instead, your discoveries reward you with some stylish choices like new skirts, hats, ukuleles, and mast designs, and even the colours of your boat’s flag and handy glider.

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Verdict

Tchia is one of the most unique open-world experiences I’ve had in a long while. I cannot recall the last time I was playing a game wide-eyed and smiling for hours on end, simply because of the way it looked and sounded. If you’re searching for an action-packed game, Tchia may not be for you, but rest assured that the action and “battles” you do find yourself in are a ton of fun. You can experiment in open areas, find rewarding collectibles, and defeat enemies along the way. Acaweb finds countless ways to reward you and wonderfully balances exploration and difficulty at every turn.

Tchia takes place in a world that was clearly built with love and care, from the smallest fish to the tallest mountain top, and I truly hope this lands in your game library sooner, rather than later.

Recommended

[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

Tchia
Summary
Verdict
Tchia takes place in a world built with love and care. It's an open-world experience like no other and one that emits a welcoming tone of exploration, family, and culture.
Liked
Friendly, welcoming messaging and tone throughout
Excellent overall presentation
Easy to use and master controls and traversal
Lots of customizable options
An expansive learning experience
Didn't Like
Map and quest markers are not always easy to find or use