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Tchia Review

Soul searching through the waves

There are few games I can remember where, going in, I had a high level of expectation, only for the game to exceed them in ways I didn’t expect. In Tchia, my hope was already high for an open, colourful adventure filled with plenty of charm, as its previews and trailers insinuated. There’s an air of familiarity to its design, no doubt many other reviewers will have the inevitable comparisons to some of Nintendo’s best, but its unique setting promised opportunities to explore some fresh new ideas. What I got, in the end, was something far more ambitious than that.

On a quiet island away from the rest of the world, Tchia and her father live a comfortable life, with only a few animals and the open ocean to keep them company. All of that changes in a blink of an eye when a henchman of the evil Meavora, ruler of the archipelago, suddenly kidnaps her father just as a hidden power comes to light amongst the fracas. Cue an adventure across the ocean and the nearby islands to gather resources, make new friends and discover the true capabilities of Tchia’s newfound skills in the hope she can rescue her father and save the region from Meavora’s terrible regime.

Right out the gate you can tell that Tchia is something special. From the opening sequences that introduce you to the vibrant world and its New Caledonia-inspired characters and setting, everything feels beautifully polished yet altogether familiar. The obvious connections to the Zelda franchise are clear as day, from gliding around the skies, hitting the pristine open ocean and playing a ocarina ukulele to change the time of day, but once the story truly kicks in and Tchia’s powerful abilities reveal themselves, things take a humorous and creative turn.

You can unlock a fair few songs to play with

In short, Tchia can soul jump into just about anything around her, including inanimate objects like lanterns and rocks. This ability opens up the island to be explored however you like, leading me to constantly jump into nearby birds, cutting travel time to but a few seconds around each island. Naturally, the first time the power opened up to me I mucked around with it for a good hour or so, hopping between cats, insects and chickens, then tumbling down a hill as a pig. Eventually it became second nature, especially during later fights with the local riffraff that can only be beaten by fire, leading to some enjoyable hopping between resources to set them ablaze with ease.

Combat aside, the vast majority of your time is all about exploration, and there’s plenty to find. Various side quests and a handful of activities and collectibles litter the map, but given how enjoyable it is to swim, fly and glide across the islands, there’s barely any level of exhaustion that comes from collecting everything around you. Tchia also rewards you for putting the story first, as the game opens up some enjoyable epilogue content that makes a full exploration of the environment more engaging than just picking up what you left behind.

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Exploring and traversing the islands are a pure joy, but they aren’t the only thing that’s fun about Tchia’s adventure. Though the characters you meet in the early going are seemingly as expected, many you come across have a wonderful sense of charm to them. That’s largely thanks to the development team sticking with its New Caledonia roots, using traditional languages of the island instead of English. Many of the jokes land perfectly too, such as a moment after Tchia’s abilities truly unlock in which she questions whether it’s puberty that has brought it on. I chuckled numerous times to little things like that and truth be told, despite its colourful exterior, deep down this isn’t a kids game as some of the jokes and themes at play are a little more adult in appeal.

Keep on rollin’

As much as I had a time and a half in Tchia’s world, there were a few issues I came across with soured the experience. The map can be awkward to use, with signposts scattered around the area you can interact with to leave a ‘you were last near here’ spot on the map when you’re checking your current location. It’s not all that helpful, however, especially when you’re trying to track down items nearby and have to wing it by using the compass instead. Meanwhile, the second half of the game feels slowed down by a long, combat-heavy quest line compared to the more open experience that precedes it, and as much as I loved having the ukulele, I often skipped the musical moments in favour of just listening and watching the scene unfold (kudos to the dev team for including a skip function). Ultimately these issues don’t interfere with the game enough to hurt it, and given the level of ambition the development team had during its creation, I can forgive the slight caveat to an otherwise absorbing video game I won’t forget in a hurry.

Final Thoughts

Tchia’s quest is both emotional and inventive, eschewing some of the obvious directions a Zelda-inspired adventure can go. Though the latter half of the story is bogged down slightly, the experience is a joyous one as you venture around improving Tchia’s stamina and abilities as you go. There are a few surprising moments, including an ode to Psychonauts of sorts, and some twists that are telegraphed but no less engaging in their execution. I had a tear in my end as the credits rolled and I just wanted to continue venturing out to explore as much as I could, a testament to Awaceb’s excellent achievement in delivering on its ambition, and then some.

Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher

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Tchia Review
An island paradise
Tchia’s ambitious ideas and brightly textured open world come together in harmony. Despite an air of familiarity, there’s simply nothing else like Tchia, and I have no doubt it will be high on my game of the year list.
The Good
A highly polished, wonderfully colourful world
An emotional narrative that is wonderfully told
Traversing the environment is a joy to accomplish
Soul jumping mechanic works a treat
Surprisingly funny in the best of ways
The Bad
Map system is a little awkward to use
Latter half of the game slowed down by combat heavy focus
Music moments are better to listen to than play
9
Bloody Ripper
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  • Awaceb
  • Kepler Interactive
  • PS5, PS4, PC
  • March 21, 2023

Tchia Review
An island paradise
Tchia’s ambitious ideas and brightly textured open world come together in harmony. Despite an air of familiarity, there’s simply nothing else like Tchia, and I have no doubt it will be high on my game of the year list.
The Good
A highly polished, wonderfully colourful world
An emotional narrative that is wonderfully told
Traversing the environment is a joy to accomplish
Soul jumping mechanic works a treat
Surprisingly funny in the best of ways
The Bad
Map system is a little awkward to use
Latter half of the game slowed down by combat heavy focus
Music moments are better to listen to than play
9
Bloody Ripper
Written By Mark Isaacson

Known on the internet as Kartanym, Mark has been in and out of the gaming scene since what feels like forever, growing up on Nintendo and evolving through the advent of PC first person shooters, PlayStation and virtual reality. He'll try anything at least once and considers himself the one true king of Tetris by politely ignoring the world records.

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