Thirsty Suitors Preview: Surreal Relationship Restoration, Kickflips and Cooking

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Upcoming game Thirsty Suits combines elements of turn-based combat, skateboarding and interactive storytelling to create a unique adventure about family, self-love and healing from the past. The game is being developed by Outerloop Games, a studio that creates games about unrepresented cultures, and will be published by the beloved indie publisher Annapurna Interactive. Screen Rant recently attended a special Thirsty Suitors preview led by studio co-founder and creative director Chandana Ekanayake, which featured more details about the game, including gameplay from the beginning.

The main role in the film “Thirsty Suitors” is played by Jala, who is described as a “young strange immigrant woman from South Asia” who returns to her hometown after a difficult breakup. The game follows Jala as she embarks on a “reconciliation tour” in which she tries to make amends with both her angry exes and her judgmental family. As in many story games, the choices that players make will affect the ending of Thirsty Suitors. However, the focus of the story is not so much romance as the restoration of relationships – the ultimate goal is not necessarily who Jala will stay with, but in the state of her relationships, including those she has with herself. While the game follows a linear storyline, it also allows players to take part in things like additional skating challenges and relationship side quests in Thirsty Suitors.

Created under the influence of games such as Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Final Fantasy and Persona series, Thirsty Suits offers a unique turn-based combat system that confidently stands out against its influences, but at the same time includes some of their best features. The players have several tricks at their disposal that involve the emotions of Jala and her opponents: during the battle shown during the preview, Jala used the “Thirst Taunt” to cause the former a thirsty mood, which makes them more vulnerable to attacks, and then proceeded to inflict significant damage with the “Thirst Movement”. During each fight, players will also make choices during a conversation that reveals details of Jala’s past, as well as use time-based button presses that follow the rhythm of the music, which will help make movements and blocking more effective.

Despite the fact that there are many moves at the disposal of players in Thirsty Suitors, preliminary footage showed that during the battle there will be a moment when the enemy becomes invincible. Jala’s first meeting with her boyfriend from the 3rd grade took a surreal turn in the middle of the fight, as the situation cinematically moved into the inner world of the former in the style of a steam wave. Every ex has one of them, where they appear as versions of themselves that they would like to be, and become more powerful through gaining confidence. To win, players must summon a “psychological ghost” to undermine that confidence and make them feel vulnerable—funny that Jala does this using a special trick to summon her mom. At the end of each fight, an opportunity is given to make peace with the ex— a decision that will have long—term consequences for Jala’s story- and the player will earn Thyrstson points, which will presumably contribute to the skill tree system.

Another key component of Thirsty Suits is skateboarding — the game has a special skate park area where Jala can participate in daily challenges and fight with “skate punks”, and the characters that appear in the park every day will vary depending on the user’s choice of story. Some skating episodes can become completely surreal when Jala sometimes has imaginary confrontations while skating. Although players can perform many amazing tricks, it’s not as complex a skating system as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and one of the biggest differences is the fact that players can’t fall off their board. The game also offers an outlet for players who don’t like the mechanics of skateboarding, giving them the option to turn on auto-skating if they so wish.

The last main mechanic of the “Thirsty Suitors” is cooking, which allows Jala to work on restoring her relationship with her parents. These cooking scenes retain the same surrealism and humor as the rest of the game, with Jala performing acrobatic moves in the kitchen while players try to cook the best possible dishes. Sometimes Jala is even visited by her ancestors when she cooks family recipes, returning to the general theme of the game about complex family dynamics and expectations.

The artistic vision of Thirsty Suitors is evident in every element of the game. Each character has their own unique style, and each ex has a specific color palette chosen depending on their personality and how they fit into the story.