Tchia Review - Screenshot 1 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Tchia is incredible. If that's all you need to know, then good — this game is best played, in our opinion, completely blind. That's how we went into it, and it was all the better for it. Every strange, unexpected twist was a delight, and we never knew where the game would take us next. So, please, if you trust our opinions, trust this one: Tchia is incredible.

Here's what we knew about Tchia before we went into it: it had been touted as one of those nebulously-defined "cosy games", and it involved sailing. That much you could divine from its key art alone, with a girl on a raft sailing through crisp, blue waters towards sparkling white sands. It was only an hour or two into the game before we started to understand that Tchia is much, much more than that. Almost a ludicrous amount of more-ness, really, especially considering that the team that created this wonderful game is just 12 people.

Tchia Review - Screenshot 2 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

But to reduce it to game-describing words, Tchia is an action-adventure game set on a small archipelago, based on the Melanesian islands of New Caledonia, off the coast of Australia. The main character, the titular Tchia, lives a peaceful life with her father on a tiny sandspit called Uma, playing ukelele by the fire and diving for pearls, until he is kidnapped by militaristic villains.

New Caledonia is not a place we are greatly familiar with, so getting to experience it through Tchia's eyes was a refreshing new perspective. All the dialogue is recorded in a mixture of French and Drehu, two of the languages spoken on New Caledonia, and translated into English via subtitles, and the folklore and culture — fabric soldiers, ukelele songs, worm-villains that eat children — is like nothing we've seen before in games.

Woven into this folklore is an original, lovingly-written story that is at times both genuinely hilarious and heartbreakingly sad. Tchia's writers do not flinch from adult topics, and we were quite surprised by how dark it got in places — but the scenes of gore, death, and hopelessness are balanced expertly with themes of hope, bravery, and love.

Our heroine, Tchia, is the perfect protagonist for this game about exploration and discovery. She embodies the themes of courage and determination just as the villain, Meavora, who kidnaps and eats children, represents the opposite extreme. We learn about Tchia through cutscenes, all of which are custom-animated and unfairly gorgeous, and we discover her to be devoted, daring, and devilishly funny in the way only young teens can be: at times awkward and goofy, but also unburdened by self-consciousness.

Early on in the game, Tchia discovers that she has the power to possess animals and inanimate objects, and it's this power that will help her save her father and her home from Meavora and his lackeys. At first, the possession mechanic seems basic — you can possess rocks and fling yourself across the map, or you can possess crabs to waddle around sideways and pinch at things. But once you make it to the main island, Tchia's possession mechanic becomes the very heart of the game, as you soul-jump into birds to soar across the mountains, or take over a shark to stalk the depths of the ocean.

Tchia Review - Screenshot 3 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

What we thought was a sailing game quickly became a traversal game, reminiscent of the graceful fluidity of Breath of the Wild's climbing and gliding, or the smaller (but no less enchanting) flying mechanic in A Short Hike. Each animal has its own abilities — crabs can fit into tight spaces and snip through metal; dogs and boars can dig into the dirt; cats can see in the dark; dolphins can sprint through the water — but it's the birds that change the landscape most thoroughly. Gliding effortlessly over the terrain is glorious, and there were times when we'd hop into a bird just to scout for treasure locations, of which there are many. Walking is for chumps.

There are also Meavora's enemy camps to clear out, filled with fabric soldiers and laser-shooting sentinels. These seem tricky, but you'll quickly learn that possessing something flammable and hurling yourself at them is not only effective, but incredibly fun. It's a bit like a bitesize Ubisoft camp-clearing mission from Far Cry or Assassin's Creed, except you can do the whole mission as an exploding jerrycan and then bug out as a literal centipede, if you like.

If you find yourself in need of more soul-jump power, you'll have to find totem shrines, which are unlocked by carving a replica of the totem face on the door. Once inside, you'll have to complete some kind of puzzle or challenge — one was a flying race, another a hide-and-seek stealth mission, and yet another was a ukelele dance-off with a bunch of forest critters — with a prize that increases your ability to possess animals for longer. Some of these minigames are a bit difficult, but good news: there's an option to skip any gameplay section at any time. You may miss story beats, but we never did — it just skips to the start of the next cutscene, which is usually the one at the end of that particular challenge.

Tchia Review - Screenshot 4 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

We strongly recommend you seek out the rock-balancing challenges, too, which give you new songs to play on your ukelele that can summon crabs, birds, and fish, or change the time of day, or make it rain, or let you breathe underwater. These soul melodies are an incredibly thoughtful addition that preserve the game's momentum — you're never without an escape route if you can summon birds at will — but even the notes themselves are funny. Summon Crab is CAAB, Bird is BAAD, and Dog is DAAG. Changing the time to midnight tells you to go to BEED. And how do you attract animals? You FEED them. Obviously.

And now we're running out of space to discuss things in full, but there's still so much more to discover. There are rhythm minigames. And a really good photo mode. And a hidden-treasure-chest scavenger hunt. And woodcarving. And photo-developing. And pearl-diving. And boat races. And diving competitions. It's honestly ludicrous how much Awaceb packed into this game. With only 12 people on the team! It's nuts.

Just play it. Tchia is incredible.


Every single new thing we discovered about Tchia was delightful. Multiple times, we thought to ourselves, 'They didn't need to go this hard', but they always did, and it always paid off. Each cutscene is full of details and character, and the game is constantly trying to make you laugh with strange visual jokes and unexpected dialogue, which always works. Every part of this game goes above and beyond, in ways we can't even put into words, because Tchia made us feel speechless with joy at every turn.