Studio Awaceb is set to deliver an amazing experience with its first title, Tchia. Before its release, MP1st got a chance to get some time with a pre-build. Read on for our hands-on impressions to find out exactly how it fares.
put your soul into the investigation
At the heart of Chia is a “soul leap”; A mechanic that allows you to jump on almost any object and animal life in the open world. See that bird taking off in the sky? Or how about this sea turtle deep underwater? None of these near you? Well, what about this rock? Or is this coconut high in the tree? You can even control lanterns, a piece of wood and other inanimate objects.
Everything is also driven by physics. When the soul jumps into a heavy object like a rock, it will feel clumsy and slow, with stiff movement due to the shape. Compared to the Cocos, where they are usually well rounded, this made for a smoother feeling going around, especially when going downhill. Other objects also feel lighter or heavier than others, so when they fall through the air or into the sea, they will react differently due to their weight or type of material.
This created some pretty unique opportunities in the open world, as while the transition is in the vein of Breath of the Wild, in that you’re free to go where you want, the physics reminded me more of Half-Life, in that there’s a lot of freedom in what you can do in your environment. It’s not as crazy as Half-Life, mind you, it’s just more of a measure of how much focus was put into the physics.
There is also another mechanic known as soul shot. Soul Throw allows you to exit an object that the soul has jumped on to hit. While it may not seem helpful at first, the beauty of soul throwing is that you can instantly soul jump into the same thrown object, allowing you to easily travel across the map at a steady pace.
I had an absolute blast with these two mechanics, so much so that I forgot about the main quest because I was having too much fun exploring the island and finding things to play with.
The only aspect of the soul jump that I wasn’t too keen on was her running away from a shower. I can understand why, as the studio probably wouldn’t want people to be stuck playing as a bird all the time. But for the inanimate objects, he should have had an unlimited amount of hold time since those objects are stationary anyway. I found myself waiting for the brief seconds for the gauge to refill to jump back to the rock, which broke the flow a bit. I’m sure we can upgrade it, so it’s not that big of a complaint.
Fortunately, there are some things to look forward to, as the character has a glider and a sailboat, with objects in the environment, such as a tree, acting as a catapult. So while the soul leap has its limitation, everyone else around him felt that he made the transition a breeze. It made me want to explore as it was easy to go where I wanted, and if needed, get back on track with the main quest.
Of course, when you’re not messing around with the game’s physics, you’ll likely be out exploring the many amazing locations scattered across the islands. High mountain peaks, beautiful sandy beaches, coral-filled oceans and green jungles. Chia’s world is full of variety, which makes it feel like an extraordinary place. There are collectibles and fun mini-games everywhere if you want to do side activities.
One of my favorites so far is playing the ukulele. Maybe sometimes I can’t keep up with the notes (there is also an option to play automatically!) but hearing the soothing music being played always puts me in a nice relaxing mood. If you get the feeling that this is a “cool” game from the trailers, well, you’ll be glad to know that it is.
That’s probably how I’d describe my time with Chia so far, a relaxing adventure that wants you to go at your own pace, with some of the most welcoming islanders you’ll ever meet in a video game. If Osav Studio wanted me to leave feeling whole from my time playing, I’d say they did just that and more.
Every year there’s always a standout indie game that I really look forward to, and based on my hands-on experience with Chia, I think this title is it. From a gameplay standpoint, Chia knocks it. It’s fun and charming, and frankly, feels like a breath of fresh air. I look forward to revisiting the full world that New Caledonia-inspired adventure has to offer this summer, and I hope to see you there too.
MP1st got access to a preview build of Tchia for our hands-on session. Tchia is due out in Spring 2023 for PC, PS4, PS5.