Gamescom preview of Tchia: Beautiful Animal Mayhem
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild changed open world games when it launched in 2017. To this day, people are still posting videos of bizarre stunts with rocks and blocks, using in-game physics for a hilarious effect. Tchia learns all the good lessons of BOTW and gives me a beautiful and thoughtful tropical archipelago to play in.
Tchia is a love letter to New Caledonia, country of the two co-founders of developer Awaceb. The love for the islands and their culture is felt deeply in every inch of the game – from the authentic New Caledonian dishes Tchia eats, to the outfits worn by the various islanders I’ve encountered, and even the native animal species I can own, everything is based in reality.
I’m a simp for good water. Nintendo really floats my boat, but Tchia definitely gets what it pays for. As it should be, considering the full game will feature a collection of islands that Tchia can navigate between the Wind Waker. I couldn’t venture out into the open sea, but did participate in a time trial that saw me navigate through meandering rivers and into towering canyons on the main island. It was a thrill to control the old school boat and I felt like I was experiencing scenes from Moana as I switched between rudder and sail to cut through the waters.
As fun as playing on water, land and sky are also up for grabs in Tchia. The game’s unique mechanic is Tchia’s ability to magically possess any creature – and lots of items. All I had to do was push a button and suddenly I was a seagull, flying majestically above the islanders stuck on dry land. Flying through the air is easy and wonderful, and offers a great way to cover great distances quickly. Take the form of a bird also comes with a dedicated poop button, with a satisfying sound effect and accompanying animation, so this game is already a GOTY contender for me.
If flying isn’t your thing or you’re afraid of birds, there’s another mechanic known as Soul Throwing that you can indulge in instead. This involves possessing an inanimate object like a rock and throwing it skyward when you kick out of it, allowing you to possess it again in the air, rinsing it, and repeating it until you get to your destination. It is indescribable how silly and whimsical it is to see a large rock or a frying pan soar above the mangrove forests and mountains. I can’t wait to see what else smart players find.
There is also plenty to do in the field. I was able to launch myself by swinging trees back and forth and ended up falling into a camp of Maano, cloth creatures controlled by the evil ruler of the archipelago who kidnapped Tchia’s father. These can be destroyed by burning them, and I had flaming logs and explosive barrels to send them with a bang.
I didn’t see much of the story during the lab, but I was able to play Tchia’s ukulele during a cutscene. It was intuitive and calming, a lovely moment of stillness that contrasted beautifully with the frivolity of the living world I was running through.
I’ve been excited about Tchia since the moment I saw its trailer, and that preview only made me more excited for the finished product. The build I played was remarkably stable and polished, especially since the game isn’t expected until Spring 2023. Tchia took the best elements from the most successful open-world sandboxes that featured it. preceded and looks set to take the genre to dizzying heights. He can even poop on you from up there.
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