Review – Tchia
Sometimes, you want to play a game that takes you on a grand adventure. Other times, you want to play a game where you can just turn your brain off and explore. Then there are times when you want feel a sense of catharsis as you enjoy some casual minigames or tasks. Tchia, from indie developer Awaceb, satisfies all three of these moods.
Inspired by the real-world location of New Caledonia, Tchia takes place amidst a gorgeous, tropical archipelago. We first meet the titular Tchia on her small island home, enjoying a peaceful existence with her father. One day, Tchia’s father is captured and taken away by the henchmen of Meavora, a half-human/half-worm deity who lords over the land. It’s up to Tchia to find a way to save her father, while also learning about who she really is. It’s a heartwarming adventure, that takes some unexpectedly dark turns at times.
The story isn’t the only thing that held some unexpected depth; the gameplay turned out to be far more robust than I initially thought. Tchia starts off with some very basic, run-of-the-mill gameplay mechanics; such as running, jumping, swimming, and gliding with her sail cloth. However, after certain events she discovers that she has the ability to soul-jump into other animals, as well as certain objects. This is where the core of the gameplay truly takes hold.
Since this is set amidst a large archipelago, there’s quite a lot of area to traverse. Luckily, thanks to Tchia’s soul-jumping ability, trekking across the islands and through the oceans is a breeze. Need to reach a high mountain peak? Just possess a bird and fly up there. Need to explore the bottom of the ocean floor for goodies? Take over the body of a dolphin and zip through the currents. Honestly, I think I spent the majority of my traveling time while possessing one of the islands’ many creatures.
That being said, soul-jumping isn’t the only way to travel. Tchia can climb trees, and when she reaches the top, she can make them sway back and forth. Once she has enough momentum, she can fling herself off and essentially slingshot across the island. This was surprisingly fun, once I finally got the hang of the timing. Also, Tchia also has her very own raft, which she can use to sail between the islands at swift pace, or venture out into the deeper ocean to explore more thoroughly. I swear, between soul-jumping, tree-flinging, and sailing, I hardly ever had Tchia simply walking around from place to place.
Although, soul-jumping isn’t merely used for traveling and exploration. Soul-jumping is also used in combat. Along her journey, Tchia will run across the minions of Meavora, called Maano, which are demons made of cloth. Whenever Tchia discovers one of their camps, she can soul-jump into a flammable object, like a lantern or jerrycan, and then hurl it towards the Maano, causing them to erupt in flames and perish. She can use this same tactic to burn piles of cloth found at these camps, which typically contain some sort of special item. This method also works well for blowing up statues of the vile Meavora, so have a blast making things explode!
As it turns out, combat is only a small aspect of Tchia. In fact, the majority of the game involves exploration. There are so many things to discover along your journey, such as Braided Trinkets, Clam Pearls, Valuables Chests, Cosmetics Boxes, and Campfires. Campfires allow you to sleep, eat (which restores your Soul Meter), play the ukulele, and change outfits. Additional outfits can be found in Valuables Chests and Cosmetic Boxes. They don’t increase Tchia’s stats or provide any buffs, they’re just there for some fun flair.
In addition to the cosmetic finds, Tchia can also discover Stamina Fruits (which as the name implies, permanently increases her stamina), Points of View to show the locations of points of interest on the map, and docks that allow her to fast travel around the islands. Then there are Rock Balancing areas, which upon completion teaches Tchia a special melody for her ukulele. Each tune provides some sort of magical help, from changing the time of day, to summoning various animals for her to possess. There are also Totem Shrine Doors, which require a specifically carved totem to unlock, and they provide Tchia with most of the insights she learns about both her and Meavora. They also permanently increase her Soul Meter, allowing her to possess things for much longer.
But wait, that’s not all! Tchia can also partake in a variety of challenges across the islands. There are Racing Challenges, Diving Challenges, and Shooting Range Challenges (using her slingshot). Winning challenges rewards Tchia with trophies, which can be used as currency in claw machines. What kind of prizes are in these claw machines, you ask? More cosmetics! I know that doesn’t seem terribly exciting, but hey, it’s a fun way to customize both Tchia and her raft.
Now unfortunately, I do have to mention the issues I had with Tchia. For as fun as this game is, it is absolutely riddled with bugs and glitches. At least on the PC version. It doesn’t seem to have nearly as many issues on consoles, so take that into consideration if you plan on picking it up. I had to constantly restart my game because the cursor on my map wouldn’t work, the animals I was possessing would just flop lazily into the ground, or the game would full on crash altogether. I honestly lost count of how many times I had to restart my game because of these various issues, which obviously greatly hampered the experience. This was really disheartening, because it’s a great game aside from the bugs. Hopefully some patches in the future will remedy this.
Bugs aside, Tchia is a beautiful game. The characters have a cartoonish design, which works well for the overall whimsical feel of the game. The islands themselves are gorgeous, with lush jungles and colorful reefs to explore. This just adds to the enjoyment of exploration in Tchia. Everything is so vibrant that it’s easy to get lost sojourning across the archipelago.
The sound design in Tchia is wonderful. Awaceb enlisted local talents from New Caledonia to voice each character, with a combination of French and Drehu for authenticity. They did the same for the soundtrack, which has a fully orchestral score infused with local sounds. It’s the perfect accompaniment for Tchia‘s laid-back, tropical setting.
Overall, I loved getting lost in Tchia‘s world. It’s a casual experience, with some fantastic exploration, diverse challenges and tasks, a rich setting, and a surprisingly deep story. The entire game has been lovingly crafted and steeped in lore from New Caledonia. The only thing keeping Tchia out of the realm of greatness are the amount of bugs affecting it, at least on the PC version. With that being said, I wholeheartedly recommend playing it, as long as you either play it on a console, or wait until they’ve patched up the bugs on the PC version.
A simplistic, cute, cartoony art style, but with some truly beautiful views and scenery.
Largely an exploration game, but there is some, fun, albeit simplistic combat. Soul-jumping into various objects and creatures is a blast. Unfortunately, Tchia is rife with bugs and glitches.
The music is lovely, with a fully orchestral score inspired by the locals. Tchia is fully voiced by local talent as well.
Fun Factor: 6.0
Exploring the islands is an absolute treat, and the story was both whimsical and surprisingly moving at times. The major thing hampering the experience were the numerous bugs and glitches.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Tchia is available now on PC, PS4, and PS5.
Reviewed on PC.
A copy of Tchia was provided by the publisher.