Tchia is a game whose graphic and sound presentation successfully compensates for some minor flaws in its unusual gameplay and rather simple and inconsistent story.
What you need to know
- What is it? A third-person action-adventure set on the tropical islands of New Caledonia.
- Reviewed on: PC
- Developer and publisher: Awaceb
- Release date: March 21, 2023
- Available on: PC , PlayStation 4 , PlayStation 5
Tchia review copy provided by the publisher.
Tchia is a game heavily inspired by the rich culture and traditions of New Caledonia, a small island state in Oceania, and the developers of this tropical fantasy action adventure, Awaceb, never miss an opportunity to emphasize this connection.
Tchia's cartoonish and colourful visual presentation, as well as the realistic depiction of the tropical atmosphere, make this game one of the most unique in 2023, and if you are, like me, one of those players who enjoy the good tropical vibe and carefree sailing and exploring, Tchia will provide you with one of a kind, almost therapeutic experience.
The story was heavily influenced by New Caledonian traditions and culture, as was everything else in this action adventure from Awaceb. It is told as a traditional story within the original, following the adventures of a young girl named Tchia, whose father has been kidnapped by the followers of the evil god Meavora.
Following these unfortunate events, Tchia discovers her magical power of transformation and embarks on a journey to save her father and the entire island she calls home from the clutches and rule of the evil god.
Given that we don't expect a sophisticated story full of twists and turns from games like this, I'd say Tchia's story is passable, despite the fact that the way it's told is a little contradictory.
For example, your first impression of this game will be that it is suitable for all audiences due to its beautiful, cartoon-like presentation and the fact that the main characters are mostly children. Everything will be so innocent and cute until the evil god suddenly starts eating babies, or until one cute little girl picks up the knife and, without hesitation, cuts off the chicken's head, all while blood squirts from its neck. So, Tchia can take a dark turn in a matter of seconds and then return to being a cute little game as if nothing happened.
Apart from this genre's inconsistencies, at some point, Tchia will try to address some "love twists" that will be very "interesting" to some people, to put it mildly. To sum up the story: I can't say the story is bad; it can be extremely interesting at times, adding a bit of mystery, but the twists and turns in the story and the transition from cartoon to love and horror comedy are somehow too vague and incomprehensible.
Tchia's gameplay, like everything else in this game, has its ups and downs. Tchia is an open-world action adventure that places a strong emphasis on exploration and discovering numerous collectables throughout the game's vast, beautiful world. Tchia appears to have drawn inspiration from Ubisoft games like Assassin's Creed and Far Cry in terms of open-world content and design, as well as the method used to gather collectables.
Once you've discovered the new area, you'll find the viewpoint, and by scaling it, you'll be able to see all of the collectables and activities on your map. As long as your stamina bar is above zero, you will be able to climb almost everything in the game. The glider will be used to travel longer distances, while the raft, which will also be used for fast travel, will be used to travel from island to island.
Although Tchia's world is quite impressive, you will quickly grow tired of it due to the lack of a well-designed fast travel system. In Tchia, you can only fast travel from the port to one of the other ten ports, which you must first discover in order to fast travel to them. Given that all of the ports are on the coast, if you want to go somewhere inland, you will have to walk for a long time. If you want to use fast travel, you'll have to walk to the nearest port first, then fast travel to the other port, which means more walking.
The only way to solve this walking problem is to use the transformative power to turn into a bird or some other faster creature, but this will also consume the spiritual energy, which brings us to another important aspect of the gameplay, the fighting mechanics.
Tchia's only enemies throughout the game will be cloth soldiers that can only be defeated by setting them on fire. You must use your magical transformational power to soul-jump the fire or explosive objects and use them to destroy the enemies. This will require the use of so-called spiritual energy, which can be improved by completing the totem temples and eating soul fruits.
The fighting system is by far the least interesting aspect of Tchia's gameplay. I understand that this is not a combat-focused game, but a little more creativity wouldn't hurt anyone and would benefit the entire gameplay. Fortunately, you will only engage in combat in Tchia when you need to clear the camps, which is not that often, or near the end of the game, when one mission's objective will be to shut down several factories. The only difference will be the fight with the main boss, where you will have to complete some platformer-style sections, which makes a significant difference compared to the rest of the gameplay, but one gets the impression that the developers should have included more sections like these to add some variety to the gameplay.
Tchia's activities range from the very mundane, such as collecting braided trinkets and pearls, which will be used to purchase clothing and accessories from specific vendors, to the very interesting and innovative, such as diving boards, which will award you with trophies for well-executed jumps into the water.
The equipment is also quite diverse. So you'll be able to dress Tchia in a wide variety of outfits, including hats, trousers, sneakers, various hairstyles, and much more. Clothing can be collected from the chests found throughout the archipelago, as well as purchased or won by participating in various activities.
Graphics and sound
Tchia's strongest suit is unquestionably graphical presentation. The tropical atmosphere is so well presented that you'll often just sail through the archipelago or walk through the coconut tree forests, admiring the scenery, without even starting a mission or any other activity. The beauty of the graphic presentation here is reflected not in realism, as is the case with some high-budget titles, but in the beauty of its artistic style.
I'd like to highlight the realistic change of day and night, as well as the appearance of the environment at various times of the day. And then the water, which looks really beautiful in Tchia, whether you are sailing the sea on a raft, swimming in rivers, or diving to find hidden chests or pearls, the water effects are really beautiful.
Aside from the realistic change of day and night, the weather change is also impressive. Even though this is an indie title, the rain effects are without a doubt the most beautiful I've seen in any game I've ever played. In general, the game's overall design is highly commendable, and in my humble opinion, the developers did an excellent job in this segment of the game.
The sound presentation and overall sound quality are possibly even more impressive than the graphics. Tchia's ukulele is one of the tools she uses throughout the game, and you'll be able to access a sort of minigame where you'll try to play each new song presented to you in the form of a musical. Each song is just perfect and perfectly adds to the overall atmosphere, and once discovered, it will occasionally play through the rest of the game. You can also use your ukulele to play some notes and change the time of day by doing so.
It's worth mentioning that the only language of the game is the local language mixed with French with English subtitles, which also makes the game more realistic and original, especially during the cutscenes and singing sequences.
Tchia is a game with therapeutic gameplay, especially while sailing and free-roaming in the game's beautiful open world. Despite the fact that the story and gameplay are nothing special, the game's cartoon-like artistic graphics, excellent sounds, and beautiful tropical atmosphere make it very good, and it will definitely deliver more than enough for the price of $30.