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Tchia Is A Relaxing Moana Sim Showcasing New Caledonian Culture

Platforms: PS4, PS5, PC
Genre: Adventure, Open-World, Sandbox, Third-Person

Tchia was originally announced back in 2020 during The Game Awards from Awaceb, a developer from New Caledonia, an island located in the Pacific Ocean. Courtesy of publisher Kepler Interactive, I spent some time with a demo for the survival adventure title.

What is Tchia? Well, it’s essentially an open-world sandbox adventure game set on the islands of New Caledonia.

Closest Thing To A Moana Sim

First things first, there’s no real straightforward combat like in other games, but the beauty and meat of the game lie in its exploration and traversing of the tropical paradise. It’s a game where simply exploring can feel cathartic, even if you’re not really on the way to completing any specific objective. See a bird? You can possess it. Want to catch a crab and throw it into the sea? You can do that, all while immersed in New Caledonian culture.

In Tchia, players have a lot of freedom for traversal, as players can climb, glide, swim, and sail their boat around beautiful tropical islands of the archipelago, as well as use Tchia’s special ability (call Soul-Jumping) to take control of any animal or object they can find, and even jam on their fully playable Ukulele. You can even use your Ukelele to change the weather and time of day or even summon certain creatures for you to possess via the Soul-Melody mechanic.

Exploration is best when you can glide and possess animals like birds. Soul jumping is one of Tchia’s special abilities, which lets you take control of any object or animal that they can find in the open world. Yes, even objects. Why objects? While the game doesn’t have conventional combat mechanics, it does feature some combat. One open-world trope in Tchia is the enemy camps strewn throughout the map that you can clear. However, what’s great about Tchia is that you don’t have to clear these enemy camps if you don’t want to. You can finish the game without clearing a single one. Clearing them will only unlock new cosmetic items like pieces of clothing.

Wait, how can you clear enemy camps without combat? Well, technically, Tchia does feature combat, but it’s more indirect. There are no buttons to attack in Tchia. To defeat enemies, you have to find explosive items such as lanterns and gas canisters, and throw them at enemies either by literally throwing them or Soul-Jumping into them and launching them at enemies. All enemies die in one hit (in the game’s lore, they’re made of paper so they burn to a crisp). Yes, it can get quite annoying and tedious to defeat enemies since you have to find explosive items to throw at them. Later on, you do get the ability to summon a creature that can lob fireballs and possess it but even then, you can only possess them for a temporary period of time before there’s a cooldown.

Coconuts & Crabs

That said, combat is definitely not the focus of the game. The game is fun because of how relaxing it is, and when you’re simply exploring and doing miscellaneous activities. There’s no sense of urgency, but that’s good. It’s cathartic to explore the islands, with a vibe that makes stress melt away. You can spend your time increasing your Soul-Jumping meter by taking part in trials (which often involve a lot of platforming), taking part in boat races or slingshot time trials, a stacking rocks activity (similar to that same minigame from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla but way easier), rhythm-based games that involve playing the Ukelele, and more.

Personally, the best and most memorable highlight of Tchia is the music, which is part of the rhythm games. Best of all, if you’re not a fan of rhythm games, you can set it all to auto-play, because the game is more about experiencing the New Caledonia culture than anything else. The music is phenomenal to listen to and I would love to continue listening to them after the game launches. I’m not an expert in Polynesian or New Caledonian culture, but the vibe and atmosphere of the music are similar to that in Disney’s animated movie, Moana (2016). If you want to, you can just replay these rhythm game sequences and listen to the music.

The story and narrative also feature unique elements from New Caledonian culture, which makes the game feel even more authentic. The language and music help bolster that, making for a unique experience that differs from other games. The game’s story is more on the short side, so you can probably finish the story in just under 7 hours or so if you don’t do much of anything else and just focus on completing the story objectives. However, that would be a shame, because the game is best when you’re taking your time with it and simply breathing in the vibes.

Experience New Caledonia

If there’s one major takeaway from Tchia, it’s made me aware of the beautiful and unique culture in New Caledonia. The cultural elements, the music, the clothing, the language and everything else represented in this game made me want to learn more about the archipelago. When a game can do all that and still make me appreciate a different culture, that’s truly the mark of a great product, so kudos to the folks at Awaceb.

If you’re looking for a non-conventional open-world game where the focus isn’t on combat, Tchia is a great choice. Plus, it’ll be available for free for PS Plus subscribers when it launches, so why not jump into New Caledonia for a bit?

PROS

  • A painstakingly beautiful and authentic open-world setting (New Caledonia).
  • The music is outstanding and represents a culture rarely represented in any media (New Caledonia).
  • A unique way to traverse the open world (by possessing different animals and using a cultural sailboat).

CONS

  • Bugs.
  • Combat can get tedious.

FINAL SCORE: 80/100

Tchia was reviewed on PC based on a review copy provided by the publisher. It is slated to launch for PS4, PS5, and PC via Epic Games Store on 21 March 2023.

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Comment(2)

  1. Indie Hit Tchia Comes To Steam In March 2024

    December 1, 2023 at 2:47 am

    […] Check out our review of Tchia by heading over here. […]

  2. Indonesia Game A Space For The Unbound Should Have Won Its Game Awards 2023 Nomination, But… | Kakuchopurei

    December 8, 2023 at 10:37 am

    […] Instead, the award went to Tchia, with the award being received by PlayStation Indies guy Shuhei Yoshida. Other games that earned the nomination include Chant of Sennar, Goodbye Volcano High, and Terra Nil. Tchia does deserve the award given that it touches upon New Caledonia and its culture and it’s positively reviewed due to its gameplay and aeesthetics, especially by us. […]

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