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We took a short vacation to an archipelago inspired by New Caledonia and tell you whether Tchia turned out to be a successful action-adventure.
Reviewed by Isaac and Patrick.
Tchia was released on March 21, 2023 for PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. It’s been part of PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium subscriptions since day one (as we reported in our Sub watch format). We were able to test this island adventure on the PS5 and PC.
Tchia is the eponymous protagonist who grows up with her father on the small island of Uma, where a man named Tre visits regularly to deliver groceries. One day, Tchia’s father is kidnapped. From there, Tre took care of Tchia, and she sets out to free her father and all the other children and adults who were captured. In the process, she discovers that the deity Meavora is behind the kidnappings, and over the following 7 to 12 hours (depending on playstyle), Tchia explores the entire archipelago to get closer to her goal. While the story seems quite bland at the beginning, it picks up speed especially in the second half and includes some surprising twists and turns. An extensive optional treasure hunt, in which you find various letters and notes, explains further background to the story. The side missions, on the other hand, contribute little to the plot.
The game world of Tchia was inspired by the archipelago of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. This is noticeable in the voice output, but also in the background music, the costumes of the characters and the culture that is conveyed in the game. However, the developers emphasize that this culture has been fictionalized in the game.
Tchia is a 3rd person action adventure. You can explore the archipelago consisting of two large and various smaller islands, coral reefs and shipwrecks as you wish. For this you use a raft, which you can spawn at jetties. You can also fast travel from a port too. Orientation is not easy at the beginning because your position is not always clearly marked on the map. On the other hand, if you are on a raft, you have the advantage that the position of the boat can be viewed on the map at any time. If you are traveling on foot, you must use your local knowledge or use the compass. Once you get used to it, you’ll be able to navigate fairly quickly without having to use the map.
Tchia can transform into almost any object thanks to her magical abilities. As a bird you can cover longer distances over land, as a shark you can extend your stamina to dive for rare pearls and unlock bonus items at the harbors and as a wild boar you can dig up hidden treasures. In the course of the game you can significantly increase both your stamina and the duration of the transformations. You can fly comparatively briefly until the end of the game, but this is made obsolete by the fairly set fast travel points.
While there are many collecting tasks on the plan at the beginning, you also have to defend yourself later in the game. At a certain point in the story, various outposts patrolled by tough creatures can be found on the southern island. While clearing certain restricted areas from enemies is part of the campaign, you can optionally clear some other areas. Tchia also has a slingshot, which is of little use to her in combat. Finally you have to defeat the creatures with fire and explosions. To do this, you slip into the role of the campfire at the push of a button and roll over the adversaries and piles of cloth to defeat them or unlock boxes with new equipment. Speaking of equipment: Not only can you carry items with you in your admittedly very limited inventory, you can also place any animal species there and transform into them at the touch of a button. You can use a lot of creativity to solve the missions. For example, you blast rock faces with chicken-hatched eggs, use a bird to quickly move from one part of a restricted area to the next, and blast the stinking chimneys of a factory site with a highly explosive mineral. Unfortunately, the mission design is often the same and the tasks too simple to exploit the full potential.
You can customize both the appearance of Tchia and your raft to your liking. On your journey you collect various masks, hairstyles, items of clothing, and sails that you can equip at the campfires and ports scattered around the map. You can also unlock numerous songs for your trusty ukulele or freely sing your own composition in the sunset on the coast. The photo mode has various filters and gimmicks. Finally, the aforementioned treasure hunt should put your local knowledge to the test. If you want to find all the objects and treasures, you will certainly be able to invest 20 hours in the game.
Graphically, Tchia cuts a fine figure on the PS5. The light and shadow effects and the dynamic weather system really come into their own on the sea, which looks great both on the surface and underwater. A day after the publication of our preview report, in which we criticized the lack of a 60 FPS mode, Tchia was treated to a 60 FPS mode. On the PS4 you have to be content with 30 FPS. Visually, both modes do not differ noticeably, which is why we recommend the 60 FPS mode. On PC, Tchia also looks decent, though it suffers from framerate issues in the denser area. Places like towns will sometimes cause the framerate to dip, even on hardware that should more than be able to handle a lower fidelity game such as this at 1080p. Thankfully, when exploring most islands and the open sea, this isn’t much of an issue. You can even increase the field of view if you want to get an even wider look at the world, though with the aforementioned optimization issues this is generally not the best idea.
If you are looking for a short, relaxed action-adventure with holiday flair, Tchia is just the right game for you. The game gives you a lot of freedom as to how and in which order you complete the tasks. However, the mission design is often the same and the demands are kept relatively low. The story also takes a few hours to get going. In the second half of the game, the game becomes more varied, but overall falls short of its potential, especially with regard to the transformation options. We would be happy to return to the world of Tchia one day.
The publisher provided us with the PC version and Sony with PlayStation Plus Premium. We captured the screenshots on PS5.