Tchia first blinked onto my radar in 2020 when it was revealed at that year’s Game Awards. It looked adorable and warm and inviting, and also like it had a suite of cool traversal systems that would be fun to interact with. It struck me as a labor of love from the developer Awaceb, one that would fully embrace and showcase New Caledonian culture and folklore. 

And now that I’ve played the release build of the game, those things still ring true. Everything seems authentic, from the cuisine the titular Tchia can freely consume along her journey to the island-themed music that serves as the game’s soundtrack. This extends to the musical numbers that Tchia can take part in throughout the campaign using her ukulele with a fully functioning chord-strumming minigame. All of these cultural aspects ground Tchia in a unique and specific setting, which is refreshing in an industry that usually hems closer to real-world recreations of Los Angeles or outright fabricated fantasy worlds.

The map of T’Chia is broken up into two main islands that basically serve to break the game up between early missions and endgame stuff, as well as the post-endgame epilogue activities. There are also a couple of smaller islands dotted around on the periphery, which pop up during the campaign as strongholds or ally bases.


Awaceb managed to hit what I would say is the sweet spot as far as the size of the game world is concerned. There’s plenty of ground to explore and locations to discover — on foot, by boat, by swimming, by flinging from treetop to treetop, by sliding down hills on your butt, or by gliding through the air on your trusty glider. But it never feels like you are traveling for unnecessarily long and dull stretches.

There is also an almost ridiculous amount of side activities and diversions to partake in, as well as a plethora of goodies to discover along the way. Each of these discoveries feels like a reward for exploration, but they will also help aid you in your journey — or, at the very least, you will more than likely make off with a cute new outfit or cosmetic boat piece to accessorize to your heart’s content.

And seriously, the amount of customization here is staggering. You can swap Tchia’s top, bottom, dress, shoes, necklace, bracelets, hat, hair, face paint, backpack, glider, and even ukulele with a wealth of options and variations. Throughout the course of your adventure, you will unlock a seemingly endless supply of options for all of these categories, so you can continue to tweak your look as you explore, and you also have an incentive to seek out chests, take down enemy camps, or take part in races or diving challenges. You can even go deep diving in the ocean for pearls or just spend time collecting trinkets, both of which serve as in-game currencies to unlock more cosmetics, such as a full-body cow or chicken costume, should you wish to rock either of these whacky costumes (and trust me, you will).

Tchia - Clothing Menu

And that’s just for modifying the look of Tchia herself — you can also customize your boat at any dock scattered around the edges of the islands, which includes swapping out the sail, mast mini flag, pontoons, boat deck, and even the pattern of the blanket that hangs over the rear of the vessel. Tchia is nothing if not extremely encouraging of player expression, allowing you to effectively make your own Tchia. My favorite ensemble was a mix of cargo pants and Chuck Taylors with a yellow hoodie that remained unzipped, revealing a black-and-white striped shirt. I also went with a white-and-red boat motif with a really cool floral sail; although the flame-themed pirate motif was also pretty cool.

But these are just the customization options, which you can ignore outright if you want to. These don’t offer stats boosts or any other gameplay benefit; they’re just there to offer an impressively deep cosmetic system.

There is also a dizzying amount of side activities should those float your boat. There are various races to take part in — some on foot, others on a boat, and others that challenge you to swim through checkpoints as a dolphin or fly through a predetermined course as a parrot. There are various diving boards found around the world, which let you perform incredible dives to get a high score (Tchia has a fully controllable diving mechanic). There are also shooting galleries to test your slingshot skills.

Successfully completing these activities will unlock trophies that can be used to play gacha-style crane games found in various locations around the map. Keep in mind that these trophies take up precious room in your inventory space, limiting the amount of flame-based or exploding items you can actively carry. And these types of “ammo” serve as your main source for vanquishing enemies and burning rag piles — or blowing up machinery later in the story.


This was a lesson I learned the hard way, actually, as I was carrying around several trophies and totem heads I carved to gain entry into tombs (where you can unlock more tiers in your possession meter). When I finally got to a larger enemy encampment during a story mission, I was unwilling to give up any of my goodies, so I only had two slots to store ammo in order to burn up the rag-based enemies and clear the camp. This meant a lot of backtracking to pick up ammo that I’d passed up earlier due to a lack of space. So keep that in mind to avoid a similar scenario: Only carry what you need and use totems and trophies as soon as you can.

You can find and blow up a number of Meavora statues that are located in various points around the game world, which effectively serve as a box to tick off — but I always made the detour to destroy these. There numerous totems to sculpt at carving stations that act as keys to unlock tombs in the hopes of completing the aforementioned possession challenges. And there are specific points on the map you climb up, allowing Tchia to shout her name to reveal all of the points of interest on the map for that specific area. Finally, you can stack rocks in a minigame, which unlocks another melody to play on ukulele. Ukulele melodies can do things like changing the time of day or creating an oxygen bubble around your head so you can dive for longer periods.

You’ll also want to make a habit of collecting every stamina fruit you encounter. Once consumed, each fruit will add one point to your stamina meter, which determines how much you can climb, glide, and swim, and it also serves as your health bar when entangled in an enemy’s cloth snares. You will also come across larger fruit clusters (usually after burning a fabric pile in a larger enemy outpost), which add a couple more points to your stamina meter. Once you get that meter up to like 80 or 90, you will feel practically invisible, able to swim and soar for what feels like an eternity — or at least marginally closer to the eternity end of the spectrum.

One of the bigger gameplay hooks in Tchia is the possession mechanic, which I honestly forgot all about for at least the first 25% of my playthrough. Once I did finally start to take advantage of it, I found it to be incredibly useful. I personally don’t mind trudging around on foot in an open-world game, but there will always be times when it starts to feel a little grating. And when those moments sprung up, I remembered I could (harmlessly, mind you) possess a nearby bird and cover a lot more ground a whole lot faster. Perhaps as a tradeoff for being possessed, Tchia can pet any animal she is able to come into contact with while standing on the ground — even creepy crawlers.


Possessing birds also lets you reach much higher points than early-game stamina will allow you to climb, opening up traversal options even further than what was already on offer. Possession also comes in handy whenever you want to deep dive into a cave with a small opening — you can simply (gently, mind you) possess a fish and sail through the tight crevice and be at the bottom of the cave system in no time. And once you dispossess something, you kind of fling yourself forward, a bit like a last-second air-dash. If your possession meter is about to deplete, this might be the make-or-break last-ditch push you need to reach that high plateau you’d set your sights set on. It’s fun to see what each animal type does, as some might be exactly what you need to solve a puzzle or locate a much-needed item.

Early on in T’Chia, for example, I needed a chicken egg to progress the story. But for the life of me, I couldn’t find one in any of the chicken pens I came across. I searched high and low, but I just could not find an egg. But then, while randomly possessing a pigeon, I noticed there was a “poop” button prompt to make the pigeon fire a turd missile. This got me wondering what other animals could do when possessed; maybe there was a “lay egg” prompt for the chicken? And, sure enough, there was. It felt like a hard-fought battle to solve that little puzzle, but it opened my eyes to the possibilities of a little (good-natured and not-at-all-against-the-animal’s-will) possession.

Geez, I haven’t even touched on the story yet, and I still feel like I have so much more to gush about. Heck, even after defeating the main baddie and saving as much of the day as I could, I am still actively going around mopping up all of the loose ends with no sign of slowing down. I haven’t bothered to do this much post-game cleanup since I played Ghostwire Tokyo.


To put the story in a nutshell, you play as Tchia, a young girl who lives with her father on a small remote island. One day, after a merchant pops by for a visit, a helicopter-type aircraft crashes the party and your father is captured. In a sudden, uncontrollable fit of rage and panic, Tchia inadvertently discovers she has a green glowing eye power that allows her to possess objects. She uses this ability on a marauder’s blade and knicks him a bit before falling back to Earth as the copter absconds with her father.

The merchant nurses you back to health and (after a short tutorial) gives you a boat. Just like that, you’re off to the races, as you attempt to seek an audience with Maevora, the malevolent ruler that appears to be behind the rash of abductions. After learning Maevora’s true intentions, Tchia must then embark on a grander journey to save not only her father, but all of the island inhabitants, and put a stop to this evil dingbat once and for all.

I will say, despite the more lighthearted art and cutesy nature, the story goes into some pretty dark and unexpected areas, while managing to maintain a younger-audience-friendly tone that reminds me of classic animated Disney movies. The kind of stuff that has you laughing and smiling throughout before suddenly giving you a crash course on the nature of death and loss and grief. But even then, you know it’ll be alright, even if things don’t work out exactly as you had hoped. It’s solid, poignant stuff, and my hat’s off to the developer for respecting its audience enough to take them on a coming-of-age journey (even if it did get a little slow in presentation or lacked a bit of nuance at times).


Look, I could go on and on about Tchia. It’s a rare game that manages to present a total package and nail almost every aspect of what it sets out to do. It looks great, sounds great, and feels great to play. The mechanics and systems all seem to work perfectly, both in isolation and in tandem. There is a wealth of things to do, the characters and story are steeped in personality, and some of the revelations and bigger plot beats took me in directions I didn’t quite expect — there is genuine levity and maturity in abundance throughout.

I love both Tchia the character and Tchia the game; this is hands-down the best game I have played in a long time. Tchia captures the spirit of juggernauts like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker with its boat and island themes, or Breath of the Wild with its suite of traversal options, while also borrowing a bit from Far Cry in revealing points of interest on the map and clearing out enemy encampments. But Tchia is also very much its own game, and it feels complete and realized. Awaceb should be immensely proud of the product they delivered.

This isn’t to say that the game is without its issues, because there are some negative aspects, though these are minor. For one, Tchia currently doesn’t offer an English dub, which could be a turnoff for some people. Although I didn’t find this to be that big of a hurdle, in some instances it’s difficult to pay attention to the subtitles while also playing the game. This is especially true in the musical sections, when you have to focus on music notes the game is asking you to play, making it tricky to also pay attention to the lyrics that can, at times, feed directly into a character’s state of mind or inform elements of the story at large. Again, this is not a big deal, but it’s something I thought I should mention.

The bigger issue I had is that the game crashed at least a dozen times throughout the journey. I should point out that there were patches released in my pre-release time with the game, so hopefully day-one players have a smoother experience than I did.

Tchia - Raft

At the end of the day, I really enjoyed my time with Tchia, and I can’t say enough great things about it. I am confident this will make my Game of the Year nominees list come the end of 2023, and it might even nab my top spot. And even though I would love to go on and on about Tchia, I will spare my editor and our readers from having to deal with an anthology-sized review. I think I will wrap things up here.

I wholeheartedly recommend Tchia, and I hope it performs well enough to get into the hands of the largest audience possible. I also hope it grants Awaceb the opportunity to make more games, because I am enthused about what they’ve made so far.

Disclaimer: I was given a pre-release preview build of Tchia on PC, as well as a pre-release review version on PS5. The opinions expressed in this review, however, are my own.

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