Thirsty Suitors dives into the tale of Jala Jayaratne, a recently heartbroken soul facing relentless attacks from a league of exes in her hometown. Initially perceived as a game about revenge, it unfolds into a multifaceted narrative where Jala’s journey involves self-discovery, reconciliation, and accountability. With turn-based combat, RPG progression, skateboarding antics, and South Asian cultural nuances, Thirsty Suitors weaves a unique and creative experience, leaving a lasting impact through its personal and vulnerable storytelling.
Throughout the game, players engage in turn-based combat against Jala’s exes, exploring RPG mechanics, leveling up stats, and unlocking new skills through sidequests or the main story. The combat system cleverly intertwines with the narrative, turning each fight into a conversation, puzzle, and battle. Identifying weaknesses becomes a strategic process, involving trial and error and exploiting opponents’ vulnerabilities. The dialogue choices made in battles influence not only the fights but also the overall narrative, adding depth and significance to decision-making.
Narrative Depth and Character Development:
Jala’s self-awareness of her past mistakes sets her apart as an RPG protagonist, especially as a queer South Asian woman. The banter between Jala and her narrator, resembling her sister Aruni, adds a unique touch, allowing Jala to confront her struggles candidly. Each ex has coping mechanisms, contributing to the game’s exploration of queer South Asian trauma. The three available builds—The Heartbreaker, The Star, and The Bohemian—shape Jala’s stats and narrative outcomes, offering players choices that impact the story.
Surprisingly enjoyable, the skateboarding mechanic provides an engaging and easy way to navigate the game world. With intricate tricks, combo multipliers, and challenges, skateboarding becomes an integral part of the gameplay. The inclusion of accessibility options, such as autoskate, ensures that mandatory skateboarding challenges don’t hinder progression for all players. The mechanic adds a layer of enjoyment, with online leaderboards enhancing the competitive aspect.
Cooking dishes becomes a significant game mechanic, overseen by Jala’s parents. Executing cooking steps well earns approval and bonus dishes, enhancing combat abilities. The cooking segments showcase Jala’s flair and style, with animations making the process visually appealing. The integration of South Asian dishes adds cultural richness to the game, emphasizing the care put into representation and storytelling.
Art Style and References:
Thirsty Suitors’ cel-shaded art style and colorful environments complement the characters, providing a visually appealing backdrop. Boss battles showcase artistic flourishes, each environment reflecting the unique qualities of the ex being confronted. Popular culture references, including nods to Neon Genesis Evangelion and The Shining, add depth and relatability to the game’s world, making Timber Hills feel like a real place influenced by our own media and art.
In the unconventional amalgamation of turn-based combat, skateboarding, and cooking, Thirsty Suitors excels in blending seemingly disparate elements into a cohesive and enjoyable experience. Beyond its gameplay mechanics, the game shines in elevating South Asian characters and their stories in a modern-day setting. With a quirky narrative, vibrant visuals, and a celebration of cultural nuances, Thirsty Suitors stands out as a unique and memorable gaming experience.