Tchia Is a Truly Special Island Adventure
There’s a burgeoning market for games that fall outside of the traditional genres, like the emergence of the so-called “cozy game” obsession during COVID. Now, Tchia doesn’t exactly fit the term cozy game, but it reaches cozy game status enough times to be considered one. But Tchia’s beautiful scenery hides a pretty compelling, and sometimes dark, adventure.
Tchia is a third person open world adventure game. In it, you play as the eponymous Tchia as she attempts to free her father from the baby-eating evil half-worm half-human antagonist Meavora. And no, I didn’t throw “baby eating” in there as an exaggeration, as Meavora literally devours an infant in front of you. Despite this, Tchia is a charming, beautiful game that features The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild style exploration. In fact, Tchia is a surprising mix of themes and genres that don’t sound palatable on paper, but is put together with so much love and skill it ends up not only working, but stands out as something special.
In Tchia you’ll be able to explore the open world by climbing, swimming, gliding, and possessing different animals and objects. As with Breath of the Wild, there is a stamina system that dictates Tchia’s physical limitations–like how far she can climb, or how long she can hold her breath underwater. Of course, if you’re about to drown you can always inhabit the body of a nearby fish, or bypass obstacles by flying around as a bird.
Different animals and objects that Tchia possesses have different abilities. If she possesses a dolphin, she can swim fast, or as a gas can, she can ignite and blow up–which safely expels Tchia. It’s fun taking control of different animals and objects to see what they can do.
Tchia is a game that you can play at your own pace, and finding various activities to do in the open world is part of its charm. You can complete challenges like races, or find new clothes in a vast array of styles to customize Tchia for her adventures. Social interactions in Tchia are often accompanied by a rhythm game using percussion instruments, or your trusty ukulele.
My only complaint about Tchia has to do with the large number of fetch quests you have to do to get the story moving forward. However, Tchia is a game that never feels like it’s rushing you, and it’s casual enough that I could hand the controller to my wife and she could play with little context. If Tchia meets her demise, she’ll simply respawn at the nearest campfire ready to continue her adventure. There is no health bar, so you’ll only perish if you run out of stamina at an inopportune time, or fall too far.
The ukulele that Tchia carries is used more than just in the rhythm games. It also works as a way to change the time of day, or even spawn useful items. It’s also fully playable if you wanted to just jam out and create your own tunes.
While Tchia is a pleasant game, it does have a bit of violence to it. Sometimes it features rather dark cutscenes, like the aforementioned baby eating or decapitated chickens. The violence does manage to remain cartoon-like, but even so, it’s much darker than I’d expect it–or any game–to go.
While most of Tchia is peaceful, there are times you will have to fight. Sort of. You can use Tchia’s possession ability to create fires to burn the fabric enemies you’ll encounter.They attack by wrapping you in cloth, and if you run out of stamina faster than you can mash the escape button, you lose. Combat can be fun, as you discover new ways to take out your foes, usually through a mixture of possessing objects and throwing flaming items at your foes.
Tchia is a game that was immediately striking, but continued to grow on me as I played it–and I can say, I have never played anything quite like it. But if Tchia’s fictional archipelago is anything like New Caledonia, I definitely want to visit its real world inspiration. Despite its darker elements, Tchia is a cozy game that breaks the usual cozy game boundaries. It’s also a game that was made with love by an obviously passionate dev team.
Tchia is available March 21 on PC via the Epic Games Store and for PlayStation 4 and 5.
An Epic Game Store Key was provided to us for this review