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Mar 20, 2023

Tchia Review

Lights Off
3 Okay
Retails for: $29.99
We Recommend: $17.99
  • Developer: Awaceb
  • Publisher: Kepler Interactive Limited
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Released: Mar 21, 2023
  • Platform: Windows, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4
  • Reviewed: PlayStation 5

There’s a very special game in Tchia. What the tiny team of twelve at Awaceb have made here has a huge amount of heart and soul at its core, though the delivery falls just short of being something truly spectacular. Marred by performance issues and bugs on the PS5 version that I played along with a story that is nearly brilliant, but ultimately fell flat and left unresolved, it’s hard to recommend the game around those points. However, what’s been achieved with the “soul jumping” mechanic introduced relatively early into the game is very enjoyable, although limiting and frustrating in its own ways. 

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I feel I should at least mention the bugs I faced, a few of which were fixed  during my play through, but many will likely be present at launch. Firstly, on the PS5 at least, the game has severe “ghosting” or “trails” present.  Supposedly this is due to Unreal Engine’s handling of anti-aliasing, though it  seems to me to also be related to the screen-space reflections at play that  make the oceans look as good as they do. This ultimately meant that while  playing I felt increasingly nauseous over time as I was seeing multiple  versions of everything fading away behind with any camera moves. Interestingly, this isn’t present in any of the gameplay footage shown or the  in-game cutscenes, which leads me to believe this won’t be noticeable on PC where there’s likely a menu setting to reduce the effect. However I’ve spoken to Awaceb and they’re aware of the issue and are looking into it. The other  main bug I faced is that during the final section of the main-story mission, I  had to use the “Skip gameplay segment” option in the pause menu as the  world didn’t load and I was stuck in an ocean under the world map. Reloading  my save dropped me right back into the ocean again. I’m not sure how much of the game I missed, but I did see the final cutscene (after that loaded in chunks with floating characters and incorrect lighting. The fact this menu item  is required speaks to the potential for other blocking issues. I had the same  issue after the credits had rolled, though I was instead left standing in complete darkness and able to move around. Restarting the game did fix that occurrence.

Ignoring those issues however, the gameplay mechanics of the game are a lot of fun to play with. “Soul jumping” being the main feature of the game, you’ll find yourself embodying wildlife and inanimate objects. They’re almost all universally faster travelers than Tchia, so expect to be rolling across the fictional version of New Caledonia at breakneck speeds as a rock. Each animal you can possess has its own “special move”, a few of which tie into gameplay mechanics in fun ways, though not as much as I was expecting. Regardless, you’ll have a whale of a time exploring the depths of shipwrecks  as a dolphin or flying around the rocky cliffs as a giant locust. 

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Another major feature here is the rhythm segments of the game. Throughout  the story, you’ll come across moments where you’ll be able to play along to  the song being sung around a campfire by the people you meet. These  moments are fantastic and the songs are entirely too catchy, though playing  to the beat proved to be hard as the on-screen prompts were slightly off time  to the audible beat (another known bug at time of review I’m afraid). The ukulele you’re gifted at the get-go of the game will serve as your primary instrument for the musical moments, but you can also decide to pick it and  play at any point, with a few four-chord progressions you can cast a number  of “spells” ranging from changing the time of day to summoning different  animals. You’ll need to find these spells out in the world by completing the  standing-stone events scattered across both islands. Sadly, the spells don’t  change gameplay other than making it easier to see or providing specific  creatures to possess.  

One major point I picked up on in the press for Tchia was inclusion of a  treasure hunt challenge. I love these kinds of activities in open world games  and Tchia’s is one of the best out there. Here you’ll find a progressive  difficulty in reading the subsequent maps and a story with each step  completed too. I ended up following every stage of the treasure hunt as I  found it and finished the hunt in an evening. Seeing the subplot progress was  a lot of fun. The rewards from each step are also fun, though without giving too  much away here, for the length of time needed for the treasure hunt, I’d have  loved the finale to be a little more rewarding.  

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This is all to say very little of the main story plot of Tchia. Being brutally honest here, I’m truly not sure who this game is aimed at. Originally I thought it was a younger audience though following the plot and a number of the story beats I’m led to believe it’s for a much more mature player. In terms of the  story length, I had finished it in about six hours or so, though I feel a very  large part of that time was spent traveling from one point to another and watching the cutscenes play out between each with a lot of slow-walking  segments scattered in the mix. Each of the story beats ended up feeling more  disconnected from the last resulting in something that felt incomplete as a  whole. 

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Tchia is a huge achievement from a tiny studio that clearly had a lot of  fantastic ideas they wanted to blend together into an amazing game.  Ultimately though, the mark was just missed by not letting each part really  sing, instead they each fell into the backing track with no lead ukulele player.

PlayStation 5 code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes