Initial release date: March 21, 2023 Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows Developers: Awaceb, Awaceb S.A.S. Publishers: Awaceb, Kepler Interactive, Awaceb S.A.S. Engine: Unreal Engine 4 Mode: Single-player video game Genres: Indie game, Action-adventure game, Adventure
"Review Copy Provided By Kepler Interactive"
Tchia is an open-world action-adventure game developed by Awaceb. Set in a world inspired by New Caledonia, the game features Tchia, a young girl who has the unique ability to shapeshift into animals and objects in her immediate environment. She sets out to explore nearby villages and cities to seek out the world's ruler, Meavora, who has captured and imprisoned her father. The game features a vibrant open world that is surprisingly large, and Tchia navigates the archipelago by boat, which has a simple yet charming mechanic where players must raise and lower the sails to control speed, in addition to Soul Jumping, a less conventional method of travel that sees Tchia taking control of nearby animals and objects.
The game starts with a story about a malevolent ruler in an island nation, whose power comes from the children he’s eaten. Tchia's archipelago's children are also in danger, and Tchia must use her shapeshifting ability to explore the game's open world and put a stop to Meavora's plans. The shapeshifting mechanic is implemented expertly, and Tchia can transform into a variety of animals and objects. The gameplay transforms Tchia from a game heavily reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda into something new and beautiful, with Tchia's variety and fluidity of movement, experimentation, and exploration making the game a true delight.
Soul Jumping is not just a great way to travel, but it's also handy for combat. Bouncing Tchia between lanterns and explosive canisters as she catapults them into enemies can be very satisfying, and time slows down while you take aim, so it's easy enough to keep the flow going and create fiery chaos. Tchia does not have a map in the traditional sense; instead, it's a digital version of a paper map. As Tchia, you must seek out landmarks to fully grasp your geolocation. Tchia's map reinforces the game's focus on exploration, and players are encouraged to take some time to look around and not just run straight from task to task.
When Tchia isn't sailing across the ocean or jumping between souls, she is either hunting for the generous amount of collectibles and cosmetic unlocks, enjoying one of the many mini-games and diversions, or playing her ukulele. The ukulele plays a relatively small part in the game, but the amount of effort the developers have put into Tchia's musical instrument must be acknowledged. It also has magical properties, changing the time of day, causing it to start or stop raining, drawing animals towards Tchia, and more.
Another element of Tchia that deserves special mention is the story. With a very evil villain who commits some unexpectedly harrowing atrocities, the game can be dark. The story provides a unique coming-of-age experience set in a world inspired by New Caledonia. Tchia herself often reacts in a hilarious way when she doesn't understand something or is frustrated. She might be from a secluded island where only her dad and the rare visitor offer company, but she can still deliver some sass. Tchia is not only darker than expected, but it's also quite funny.
In wrapping everything up, Tchia has a lot of potential as a unique coming-of-age story set in a world inspired by New Caledonia. The shapeshifting mechanic and the sailing mechanic add to the game's overall charm, making it a great story and gameplay combination. However, performance issues hamper the game from the very start. Despite this, Tchia is a delight to play, and its variety and fluidity of movement, experimentation, and exploration make it an enjoyable experience.