Tchia, developed and published by Awaceb, is a gorgeous semi-nonviolent 3D open-world adventure game inspired by the archipelago, New Caledonia.
You play as the titular Tchia, a young girl living a peaceful life with her father on her home island. You’ll prepare for a Coutume, a symbol of mutual respect and friendship by humbly gifting goods. But shortly after the arrival of a family friend, your father is kidnapped by local ruler Meavora. You’ll then embark on a journey to rescue and reunite with your father – while exploring the world and making new friends. You will also use the ability to “Soul Jump” into different items and creatures to help you.
When diving into the open sandbox world, Tchia’s gameplay reminded me of Breath of the Wild: the freedom of exploration, the stunning yet massive world, and the obvious gliding and stamina meter. The game also borrowed the viewpoints in Assassin’s Creed, where our protagonist shouts at high points of the map to reveal nearby points of interest. It’s useful but tedious due to the aforementioned gigantic map. Fortunately, you’re able to Soul Jump into animals, temporarily giving you control of said animal. You could be a bird, deer, turtle, and other creatures and objects, which not only feels organic but also massively helps with traversal. Your transformation time is limited but slowly regenerates and can be fully refilled if you grub at a free food stand.
The developers put major focus on introducing elements of their home and culture into Tchia, and it clearly shows. Although the world itself is too large for my taste, there’s no denying how visually stunning the tropical islands are. Especially when the sun sets, it’s nearly impossible to ignore. The fact that all dialogue, soundtrack, traditions, Ukulele music, and musical minigames are in their native language really brings this fictional slice of New Caledonia to life.
Unfortunately, my praises mostly end there, as Tchia doesn’t really excel in any specific category. The plot contains some heartfelt moments but doesn’t really move the needle in a meaningful way. There are also plenty of points of interest to explore, but not all of them are particularly useful. Places containing Stamina Fruit (increasing your stamina) or Rock Balancing which grants you new soul abilities, actually impact the player’s experience. Meanwhile, cosmetic chests, shooting ranges, and boat races didn’t offer enough value to warrant exploration, with the rare exception of needing trophies to progress the main missions. This is especially true of the boat races, as the controls were just a clunky headache.
Performance was also a major issue, as I ran into countless crashes, forcing me to restart my progress too many times for my liking. The title consistently dropped frames during random moments of exploration and pulled me out of my sense of immersion. I’ve tested Tchia on multiple rigs that surpassed the recommended specs and still was plagued with choppy rendering and crashes galore.
Overall, the game feels a bit half-baked. Although Soul Jumping and exploring these magical islands are a treat, it gets stale fast. I truly loved the sense of culture integrated into the game, but it doesn’t forgive the lackluster performance, bland points of interest, and hit-or-miss minigames. Some may enjoy the simplistic story, but others like myself may find Tchia to be flat and a bit one-note.
Tchia is available now for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC via the Epic Games Store for $29.99.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Tchia.