PREVIEW: ‘Tchia’ Promises A World Of Exploration And Nature (PC)

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Tchia — But Why Tho

There is something that draws me to new games that implement rarely used mechanics or tackle a location or topic seldom covered. All of those boxes were checked when I saw the first trailer for Tchia, from Awaceb, during The Game Awards in 2020. It wasn’t the most stylish or flashy, yet it seemed full of heart and soul. From its not-so-subtle messages about preserving an environment and culture to possessing animals to explore islands inspired by the South Pacific island New Caledonia, it looked like an enjoyable and wholesome experience. I was lucky enough to find out that my initial thoughts were right on the money during my preview playthrough of Tchia, which gave me free roam of the first island and a small glimpse of the story.

In Tchia, your goal is to help Tchia, the protagonist, rescue her kidnapped father. Tchia is special. She has a unique gift that allows her to possess animals through the art of spirit jumping. With her powers and ukulele, she travels across an archipelago stopping evil cloth creatures called Maano and helping small villages with their own problems. These problems range from helping them gather food to cooking to stopping Maevora, the kidnapper, and their attempts at destroying the environment for personal gain.

The preview put me several hours into Tchia’s adventure. She has already grasped her powers and is exploring the first island for clues of her father’s whereabouts. I was given full reign to explore the first island with almost every one of Tchia’s abilities at my disposal. The first thing I wanted to try was spirit jumping. I immediately went and took control of an animal to explore. The island was beautiful, yet I was initially disappointed. The time allowed for spirit jumping is surprisingly short, but this was absolutely a skill issue.

Once I got the hang of balancing spirit jumping, maximized my time in the animal’s body (in this case, a crab), and quickly jumped out to recharge it, I was having a blast. Then, there were upgrade orbs scattered throughout the map, allowing me to increase my time possessing the animals. So what started as frustrating ended up being one of my favorite parts about Tchia. I ended up having so much fun flying, crawling, swimming, and running around this beautiful island.

As for the story, the glimpses I got weren’t the most engaging, but I’m excited to see where it goes. The standout was the voice acting. Every character was acted by locals from New Caledonia in their native Drehu language. This didn’t just feel like an island; it felt like there was love and care invested in making this an accurate portrayal of a culture. While the story itself didn’t completely grab me, the music convinced me I wanted to see what was next.

During one of the story moments, the entire town Tchia helped break out into song while creating a big feast. It’s a musical mini-game where Tchia chimes in with her ukulele. I knew that there’d be musical elements, what with being able to use the ukulele whenever I wanted, but I didn’t expect full musical moments that were so much fun to play. On top of that, the game let me appreciate the scenes play out thanks to an auto-play option. I really hope there are many more of these since they were a fun glimpse at this culture.

Building on that, my favorite implementation of the ukulele was its ability to manipulate the world. It’s quite similar to the ocarina from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time but with way more options. At any time, I could summon a bird, grow a bomb plant, or even change the time of day. Of course, that was only a third of the songs available too. It felt like it was built on the idea that this island was my playground to explore and appreciate.

Being so open and sandbox-y, the island was full of secrets like little challenges, collectibles, and fun puzzles. But exploration felt somewhat tedious thanks to navigating with a compass and a map and not knowing my exact location. You can get an idea of where you are on the map but never your exact location, save for interacting with signposts. On the other hand, this only really felt like an issue when searching for those secrets. Do you know what came in handy with getting my bearings? Being able to summon a bird and fly up high enough to see all the landmarks. This and more features I experienced felt odd at first, but quickly became fun when I realized I just needed to explore.

Tchia is shaping up to be an exciting time. While its mechanics, like using the ukulele to open the world for you or spirit-jumping, take some getting used to, once you have a handle on them, the game becomes a playground. There’s the promise for so much more adventure ahead, and I can’t wait to see more of this world.

Tchia is coming in early 2023 to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and the Epic Games Store.

But Why Tho? A Geek Community
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