Tchia review – an archipelago of delights and horrors

March 21, 2023
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Not bragging, but on our street, today is bin day, and I celebrated by standing for ten minutes or so at the bedroom window while a stray yogurt carton ran up and down the path outside our house. It sounds a bit American Beauty, I know, but actually it was a brisk delight. The wind properly animated this yogurt carton, finding a real comic character for it as it batted back and forth along the paving. To be honest, it was a bit of a wrench to leave it and do the school run.

How Tchia, I thought afterwards. Tchia is one of those games that lives on in the memory after you’re done with it. The things that don’t quite work fade and the things that no other game does quite the same way only grow brighter. Tchia’s a game about exploring an archipelago in the southwest Pacific: you’re cast as a child and the world around you is absolutely huge as it rushes off in every direction. But you have this power that allows you to get a grip on it. You can “soul jump” into nearby animals and certain objects, racing over the earth as a deer, swooping under the clouds as a pigeon, tumbling along as a lantern or a rock. Animated by movement! The yogurt carton would be right at home.

Soul jumping is absolutely the best thing about Tchia. It’s fun to find out what you can do as a shark that you can’t do as a crab, and it’s nice to get a weird kind of revenge on a mountain climb that has been defeating you by just hopping into a nearby bird and riding high over the terrain that had been such a pain moments before. Soul jumping ties into what passes for combat here – you can jump into a lantern to set the game’s rag-based enemies on fire and destroy their camps, and you can fling rocks about – but as you soul jump in and out of objects, held back only by an extendable pool of soul jump mana, you can chain it together with the game’s other traversal elements too.

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