Let’s hope Tchia’s story brings its sandbox together on PS Plus Extra

By Lee Brady,

Tchia's sandbox design borrows from some excellent games — we just hope the PS Plus Extra game also borrowed a few narrative tricks as well.

Tchia trophies are sure to have us exploring every nook and cranny of a New Caledonia-inspired world once Tchia arrives day one on PS Plus Extra. One thing we haven't explored much of, however, is the game's story, and if a sandbox game like Tchia is really going to leave its mark, it needs to take a smart approach to story.

Tchia PS5We know Tchia does have a story, but how will it factor into gameplay?

Tchia's story could bring the best out of its PS5, PS4 sandbox gameplay

If watching any Tchia gameplay at all fails to bring the words The Legend of Zelda to mind, it's either because the words Breath of the Wild or The Wind Waker got there first, or you're really checked out on whatever Nintendo's up to these days (and that's fine). The developers of Tchia, Awaceb, are plenty checked-in on Nintendo games for the rest of us — in fact, they even had the time and talent to add Super Mario Odyssey's bodysnatching mechanic to Tchia, somehow.

This isn't shade being thrown at the developers; it's frankly insane that this twelve-person studio has been able to adapt so much of Nintendo's recent design choices into Tchia's gorgeous world. It hardly matters where its disparate design choices come from — it still looks like it'll be one of the best games on PS Plus when launch day on March 21st, 2023 rolls around.

Tchia isn't simply picking and choosing bits of design it likes, however — it's also mixing and refining them in some interesting ways. Who would have thought Mario's body-hopping gimmick from Odyssey would integrate so well with the loose, sandbox-y combat of Breath of the Wild? Who besides Tchia's designers would have known Breath of the Wild was distinctly lacking bouncy rubber trees and sick aerial poses? That said, if there's one element of The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild that we truly hope Tchia emulates, it's the story.

Sure, there are far flashier design choices derived from The Legend of Zelda games that Tchia has implemented: the stamina-based climbing, the gliding, the Wind Waker-like sailing, the loose combat, the hands-off map design, the magical instrument that affects the weather, etc. That stuff all makes a far bigger impression, so we understand why the story of Breath of the Wild might not exactly have reached the top of Awaceb's priority list. When it comes to implementing story in a sandbox game design, however, Breath of the Wild's approach has yet to be beaten.

Tchia PS5We will never turn down an excuse to go Wind Wake sailing.

To be clear, when we say 'story' here, we really mean 'narrative design'. Breath of the Wild's actual plot is remarkably simple — there's a bad guy and a princess, and if you do the things, you can beat the bad guy and save the princess. It's not exactly breaking new grounds in storytelling, so we'll forgive Tchia if its story — apparently about a jealous pirate chasing the protagonist Tchia around — decides to focus on literally anything else.

However, Breath of the Wild's narrative design brilliantly gives its sandbox some much-needed structure, and great narrative structure can absolutely elevate the sandbox design of Tchia. At its heart, Breath of the Wild had one central mission — to 'Defeat Ganon.' The quest to beat the game's final boss is given to the player at the start of the game, and it remains visible in their mission list from that point until the very end of the game. As the player travels the world, they can also see Ganon's miasmatic form possessing Hyrule Castle at almost all times, visibly reminding the player what all their adventuring is building towards.

TchiaWhat would a Zelda-like be without some dungeon bosses?

That might sound a little too pressing and intense for the vacation-y vibes of Tchia — and on some level, we agree. Perhaps Tchia shouldn't be worried about evil incarnate destroying her world at all times. That said, the genius of Breath of the Wild is in how it gives us the option to Defeat Ganon at any time — just 99% of us won't defeat him anytime soon. Try as they might to keep that main mission in mind, once the player travels the world a little to power up, they will find themselves utterly distracted in the joy that is carving a beaten path through the world's varied, exotic landscapes.

Ultimately, even with the embodiment of pure evil writhing around at its core, Breath of the Wild's sandbox design prevails in luring us into a vacation-like state. Yet the player also never feels that sense that they're exploring just for exploration's sake — the threat of a tough battle at the game's climax, and the persistence of that task in the game's world, makes exploration feel necessary and good. The result is a game that makes the player relax on purpose, which is exactly what we want for Tchia.

Tchia PS5Oh, The Last of Us Part II's guitar strumming's here too. Tchia might be the first game designed solely by fans of other games.

Tchia's melding of Breath of the Wild's sandbox design and Super Mario Odyssey's body-snatching powers bring us a game where we can, at any moment, take flight as a bird or swim the oceans as a dolphin — and it looks incredible. However, while doing stuff for stuff's sake is all fine and well, with a little clever narrative design tricks, we would find ourselves gently incentivised to enjoy everything Tchia's sandbox has to offer.

Our hope is that Tchia hasn't stopped short of emulating Nintendo in this one respect, because if it does have something even approximate to Breath of the Wild's strong narrative core, we might just be looking at one of the best PS5 games ever.

Are you excited to get your hands on Tchia when the PS5 and PS4 game comes to PS Plus Extra this March? Let us know in the comments what your thoughts on the game are so far, and whether you agree with our hopes above.
Lee Brady
Written by Lee Brady
Staff Writer Lee loves to write about classic PS1 games on PS Plus and examining the game design of upcoming PS5 games like Marvel's Spider-Man 2 and Final Fantasy XVI. He's a big proponent of video games as an evolving artistic medium, though his love of Sonic games somewhat undermines the purity of his intentions.
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