I was curious about Tchia since I saw the trailer for it last year, but I knew very little about what kind of game it actually is since the trailer showed a lot of possibilities. Honestly, if this game hadn't arrived on the PS Plus plan at launch, I may not have played it for a while since I haven't heard a lot of buzz about it - and man, that would've been such a shame as I absolutely loved this game. Tchia is an open-world adventure game about a young girl on a island journey to save her father. Tchia is an indie game that feels close to limitless, integrating so many different types of gameplay and letting you sail freely though a beautifully diverse island region.
Tchia is a young girl who lives on an a small remote island with her father. For her birthday, her father has given her a slingshot and encourages her to practice using it. Everything seems laid-back and peaceful here, when suddenly a strange flying vehicle appears on the island. Her father is tied up and abducted by the intruder, and in Tchia's effort to stop this she discovers a very strange ability to transfer her soul into objects. She manages to turn the assailant's weapon against him and cut his face before he disappear with her father. Her father's friend Tre helps her escape, but he tells her that she must go to find Meavora, a ruler who has her father captive. Tchia is only a teenager, but with a boat and a her soul-jumping power she is determined to find her father and bring him home.
I may have slightly mixed feelings about the art style in Tchia, but honestly, I was impressed by it 95% of the time. Tchia manages to show huge island environments in an open-world format and not struggle much at all with rendering. Also, the way water looks in this game is just stunning. There's really not much I can complain about beyond the fact that in certain lighting, textures terrain or on characters can look really unpolished, and that the city of Aemoon's buildings look a little too same-y from one another. Regardless, I had so many great screenshots of the visuals that I actually included a slide of them below. The music of Tchia gave me chills at times - taking on a wide open ocean on your boat while a grandiose choir of island music plays just feels absolutely incredible. Music plays an important part of the game, as not only do you play through rhythm portions but the songs serve as a way to bond with the characters in the game. The soundtrack being so stellar is why it feels a little disappointing that there's times where you're exploring through the world and there's no music playing at all - just silence. I'm not sure why this happened, but it wasn't often enough for it to be really bothersome.
In the introduction, you're told that Tchia is inspired by New Caledonia, a pacific island east of Australia, but the characters and story are all fictional. New Caledonia is a French territory, so French is spoken there as well as native languages. In this particular story, the characters are voiced Drehu and French - by people who are actually New Caledonian. I've mentioned before how enjoyable it is for me to play games set in a real-world culture and location, but this was particularly impactful because of how intentional it was about its setting and how it actually played a part in the development of the game.Tchia is magical fictional story, but at the same time there's much magic to be found in the beauty of the natural environments and the communities. Tchia makes many friends on her journey, and she fights to save not only her father but the people she meets as well. There's many memorable characters, although unfortunately you can't really talk to many of the townspeople NPCs you meet along your journey. However, the main issue I'd mention to the developers is that the cutscenes near the end of the game felt a little rushed and confusing. There's heavy moments that I think they should've been allowed to linger for longer and provide more explanation, as the player needs to process the emotions too. I won't go too in detail as I want to avoid spoilers.
It's difficult to summarize the gameplay in Tchia because there's so, so much you can do. I try not to compare indie games to other games in order to explain them, but I couldn't help but think of this game as a Breath of the Wild meets Super Mario Odyssey. You have a wide open world, vast and full of secrets to find, but you also have a magical ability to transform (or transfer your soul into) into any animal or object you see. Each creature or item you turn into changes what you can do. For example, turning into an oil lamp makes you a weapon that you can launch powerfully in any direction. Turning into a cat allows you to run quickly and use night-vision. You can choose to play this game in so many different ways, which is why I spent a long time really taking it all in. There's also rhythm game portions where you play along to music with your ukulele, as well as other mini-games. Your slingshot can also be used on just about anything, which means you can run around town and be a real menace to people. You can sail your boat through the sea from island to island, or jump off, swim, and dive for treasure. It just goes on, and no matter how long I played it still felt like there was so much to be explored. The freedom in gameplay is not the only reason, but definitely a big reason that this is currently my favorite game played this year. I found myself laughing and trying ridiculous things that this game would just let you do.
I believe indie games pretty much always require passion and dedication, but I can't think of many games that feel as powerfully authentic and carefully crafted as Tchia. It's a love story to a people and their culture, and I genuinely feel honored that the developers chose to share this world with us. Tchia gives me the type of freedom, goofiness, and exploration that Zelda games make me feel, while also allowing me to feel a very genuine connection to our own world, people, and nature. I can't recommend this game enough, and if you play it I ask that you take your time with it. Among everything else, Tchia also includes queer representation with a romance that made me smile.
Tchia is available on PS5 and PC
Played on: PS5
Last Played: 4/4/2023
Playtime: 21 hrs