As we all collectively wait with baited breath for the sequel to the greatest game of all time to come out, I looked for something with a similar wild sense of exploration to play and enjoy in the meantime to scratch that particular itch. And although on a completely different console than the awaited game, there was a recent Sony State of Play that showed off a cool looking indie game set to release for PS4 and PS5. That game has since come out and is also free for Playstation Plus Premium and Extra
users. And it turns out to be pretty damn good and every bit as pleasant and enjoyable as the trailers hinted at!https://youtu.be/lbuZbzO5ghUhttps://youtu.be/rdAGrXZC2iQ
The best pitch for the game though is certainly the Quick Look in which Dan praises the game and says the exact things I needed to hear in order to make it a "must play" game.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXlBJ5dEsns&t=1763s
The developer Awaceb actually responded to the YouTube upload with the comment: "Thank you so much for playing! 😍 Happy you're having a good time. That hiccup with the sculpting stand and the shrine door is being fixed in an early patch (it's stuff you're supposed to unlock a bit later on, which is why it's locked for you) Thanks again! Cheers 🥰"
Speaking of, here is their official website: https://www.awaceb.com/tchia
From which I am going to lazily copy some of the games "back of the box" bullet points:Soul Jumping
Take control of any animal or object
Unique gameplays and abilities
over 30 playable animals, hundreds of objectsExploration & Traversal
Smooth traversal with free climbing, gliding...
Sail your boat to cover longer distances
Vast archipelago with varied biomes and weatherUkulele
Fully playable (picks, strums, bends...)
Story-specific rhythm segments
Unlockable melodies that affect the open worldStory & Music
Diverse characters inspired by New Caledonian culture
Fully animated and voiced cutscenes
Original orchestral score infused with local soundsCustomization & Items
Hundreds of unlockable cosmetics
Customize your boat
Useful items (flashlight, slingshot, compass, camera...)
The Spirit Jumping in particular is a really fun mechanic. Like the special effects and powers granted by the ukulele it works on a cool down timer when its meter runs out, but refills rather quickly. You can basically chain Spirit Jumping from one animal to another in some really fun ways too. Swimming around in the ocean looking for pearls to collect I Spirit Jumped into a fish, then exited the fish and possessed a nearby dolphin, and then exorcised myself from the dolphin and captured a nearby sea turtle, going from one to the other almost seamlessly.
For the completionist there are plenty of collectibles too and it is satisfying to search the world for them. There are various Point of View "scenic overlooks" located in high places that you can shout from to reveal plenty of points of interest in the nearby area too. These will mostly consist of food stands, docks, pearls, trinkets, and chests. Most of what you find will add to the abundant customization options for the look of Tchia herself and the boat that you use. There are some fun mini game style objectives to be found pretty much everywhere as well ranging from shooting galleries, diving challenges, and races.
Mostly the exploration itself and how fun and creative you can be with it has been the biggest highlight so far. Some really cool stuff that changes how you play in a very meaningful way can be found in hidden places. One ability that I found early on in particular has already been incredibly useful in exploring areas that were previously a fair bit trickier. From some of the higher vantage points the game looks really amazing with its use of color and overall art direction. The weather effects, rain in particular, can also really get you to stop and admire the visuals when they kick in. Very much a game that showcases skillful art direction over sheer production values and bleeding edge tech.
Given how this game suddenly got its hooks in me just typing this up makes me want to play so I'm going to go ahead and get back to said exploring. Last thing I will mention for now is that not only does Tchia pass the test of "can you pet the dog?" that all games should aspire to, but it lets you pet the everything. Calling it right now, dark horse contender for various "top 10" game of the year lists right here.
And Billy Corgan singing about his personal favorite thing in Tchia:https://youtu.be/QQ4L61uc9S4