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Preview: Tchia

19 Jan 2023
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My favorite types of games to write about are the ones that you can tell have been made with love. I know that sounds a little obvious, but not every game gives off that specific aura. Because of that, the ones that do tend to shine all the more. Tchia, a new open-world adventure title developed and published by Awaceb, oozes the love of its creators in spades. Perhaps this is due to the fact that its environment and story are close to their hearts. Whatever the reason, I had an amazing time playing the preview build for this gem of a game.

Tchia’s story immediately caught my attention because it takes a rather unique approach to a familiar tale. Tchia, the titular character, is a 12-year-old girl from Uma who sets out to complete a series of tasks in order to gain an audience with the man who kidnapped her father. Adventure games that center their story around retrieving someone important or a particular item aren’t really rare, but the reason I mentioned that Tchia’s approach is interesting is because it’s framed through the lens of a young girl, essentially a child. It feels like this game is meant to be her coming of age story just as much as it is a search for someone dear to her.

The preview unfortunately doesn’t show you the beginning of the game, but instead throws you into the first village that Tchia visits at the start of her journey. I actually kind of liked this because I was able to see right off the bat how vibrant and beautiful the world and characters were. Gaby and her daughter Louise were the two that stuck out the most, probably because they’re the ones making requests of Tchia, but still, their personalities were interesting (one greets you with a shotgun and the other sings a beautiful but very haunting song) and left me wanting to know more about their background. They just felt like real people you could run into in a place like the one they inhabited. 

You don’t really get to know any other characters besides the aforementioned two (although there is a cutscene where you party with the entire town) but going based on the game’s in-game journal, the story seems packed with interesting encounters for Tchia. I am super curious about where her journey will take her, especially given her unconventional goal and newfound powers of possession.

In terms of gameplay, Tchia has quite a few interesting mechanics in its wheelhouse. A lot of them make use of the story’s unique setting which I think was one of my favorite parts when trying things out. Open-world adventure games obviously focus on exploration but here it is taken a step further by the skills Awaceb created for Tchia.

For starters, she is able to “Soul-Jump”, an ability that allows her to take possession of any nearby object or animal for a specific amount of time. According to the in-game journal, she first discovered she could do this when trying to save her father from being kidnapped, but we don’t get to see its initial manifestation in the demo.

However, this feature alone made exploring the map super fun. I could fly over the entire area as a bird or roll down the hill as a rock. There’s a meter that tells you how much time you can spend as each thing, but as soon as it cooled down I was back at it again. I literally spent hours being a boar because I thought it was cute. I have to say that this is one of the things I’m looking forward to playing with the most once the game fully releases.

Aside from Soul-Jumping, you can also climb cliffs, glide through the treetops, take a stroll on Tchia’s raft, play the guitar, collect trinkets, and dive into the ocean. There is also some quality-of-life stuff you can do like changing Tchia’s outfit or taking pictures with her camera but these felt more like bonus things rather than necessities.

My only gripe with the gameplay so far is that the controls for certain actions (particularly steering and playing the guitar) aren’t as responsive as I would have liked. I had a lot of trouble keeping up with everything I had to do during these instances, especially using a controller. I think the introduction of a sensitivity setting for controllers would help with this issue as being able to reduce the speed of how quickly I toggled between keys would have probably made things much easier.

This next part of the preview I need to say loudly: I LOVE TCHIA’S OVERALL VIBE. The visuals, the music, the characters, the voice-acting. Every. Single. Part. of its presentation is chef’s kiss. I think it’s worth mentioning that this game is being made by a team of nine people because that’s not something you would ever guess given how smooth and beautiful the transitions are when doing literally anything.

For example, when Tchia dives into the water the switchover from floating to swimming is seamless. Awaceb really paid attention to the little details as well and I love how I could flip my camera and see Tchia was actually holding her breath and her cheeks were puffing out. The environments themselves were also full of life (super colorful and tropical-themed) and riddled with random animals and NPCs doing their own thing. I really liked just *looking* at the game and as I mentioned above spent a few hours playing as a boar and just vibing to the music while I ran around.

In terms of the sound quality, I want to mention how impressed I was with the implementation of songs into the gameplay (you can have Tchia play her guitar in certain cutscenes to go along with what’s happening). I’m sure that took a lot of work but it was done very well and I liked all of the tracks I heard. The voice acting was also pretty good and I LOVE that they chose local talent to keep it authentic to the place they were pulling from.

Fun fact: The game’s map is actually based on a real place called New Caledonia, a series of islands off the Australian coast, and so are its inhabitants, so perhaps this is why everything felt so real and fresh. Whatever the reason, I loved how everything looked and may plan a future visit to New Caledonia myself because I fell in love with how charming this game made it seem.

As mentioned in the opening of this preview, Tchia makes it clear that it was made with love. During the intro, it tells you that it was created as a love letter to the place it is based on and that the co-founder of Awaceb is native to that region.

I think that even without this detail it would have been easy to guess that this title meant something to the people making it. It’s visually stunning and the level of detail put into it is breathtaking. The gameplay seems fun and well-thought-out from the little of it I was able to play, and I think the story can be really interesting if executed correctly. I will 1000% be picking this up on release. Honestly, I’m already in love.

Tchia doesn’t have an official release date but it is planned to launch on PS4/PS5 and PC via the Epic Games Store. 


Preview copy provided by Awaceb for PC. Screenshots taken of reviewer. Featured image courtesy of Awaceb.