Thirsty Suitors splash screen
Image Source: Outerloop Games

Thirsty Suitors Hands-On Preview – It’s Jala vs. the World

A wild ex has appeared!

Thirsty Suitors tells the story of Jala, a young adult with a love for skateboarding who is returning to her hometown to face the troubles of her past after suffering yet another breakup. However, the rocky relationship with her parents isn’t the only problem Jala will have to navigate. Her ex-partners seem to be popping up all over the place, challenging her to battle.

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Sound familiar, anyone? On the surface, it carries a very similar approach to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Don’t let this deter you, though, as Thirsty Suitors puts a bit of a spin on things. More importantly, you get to play as the badass ‘Ramona’ character and fight off your exes instead of following the tale of yet another, well, you know, ‘thirsty suitor,’ as this game would label him. Sorry, Scott!

However, while the inspirations from Scott Pilgrim are certainly evident to anyone at least somewhat familiar with the franchise, the game still manages to feel unique enough in gameplay and story to stand apart. This game is not just a clone but rather a combination of everything that made that quirky tale so great – with the addition of other brilliant influences and focuses.

Thirsty Suitors also has strong story aspects of culture, pressures of family relationships, and identity, which I’m certain will be rather intriguing and relatable to explore for many players.

My experience with the Thirsty Suitors preview was split into three gameplay demo sections – a personality quiz and battle against Jala’s first ex, a glimpse of the skate park and various skateboarding challenges, and cooking with Jala’s mother.

Personality Quiz

Thirsty Suitors dating quiz
Image Source: Outerloop Games

Upon launching into the first demo gameplay option, I found myself dropped into Jala’s shoes and taking on a bizarre and quirky dating personality quiz.

This occurs at the beginning of a new game, to initially determine your ‘Thirstsona’ – a dating type that will provide you with unique skills or perks to use as dangerous weapons against Jala’s exes. While this may sound a little cliche or boring to some at first glance, I was pleasantly surprised with the tone this set for the game. It turns out Jala’s love life is several different types of disastrous, and you get to influence which archetypes stand out the most.

This section also introduces you to the Narrator character. She’s a snarky, sarcastic, and judgmental inner monologue of Jala that reflects the parts of herself she dislikes while bearing an uncanny resemblance to her elder sister.

All the while, you will use Jala’s skateboarding skills to navigate across a series of ramps, rails, zip lines, and walls to reach the following platform, where the next question of the quiz will be presented for you to answer. I found this much more interactive and entertaining than any other personality quiz game intro I’ve experienced before. I enjoyed the fact that it lets you start to get a feel for the skateboarding controls right from the very start.

The writing of this segment is filled with humorous dialogue and sarcastic quips, too, which had me genuinely laughing out loud all the way through the quiz.

First Suitor Battle

Sergio being, well, Sergio in Thirsty Suitors.
Image Source: Outerloop Games

After completing the quiz and receiving my initial Thirstsona, I was thrown into the first section of the story proper. Jala steps off the bus into her hometown and heads to the local Diner, where she must search for someone to give her a ride home.

Unfortunately, it’s here at the Diner that she runs into a rather unexpected individual: Sergio, one of her exes, who challenges her to the first Suitor battle.

Suitor battles are simplistic turn-based cinematic battles that allow Jala to face off against her exes, get into the nasty negatives that caused their split, and even hash things out in the end. Suitor Battles focus on four mechanics – Attacks, Taunts, Skills, and Items.

Attacks are basic moves that Jala can deal to inflict smaller amounts of damage to her opponents and restore WP. Taunts are status effects and de-buffs that you can inflict on your opponent, each having various results. Skills are special powerful attacks that consume WP and deal extra damage if the target is inflicted with a particular status effect from a Taunt. Lastly, items are various consumables that Jala can use to restore HP or WP.

Much like the personality quiz, I was dying of laughter through this entire Suitor battle. The personalities on display are hilarious, and each turn-based combat round is interrupted by lines of dialogue between Jala and the Suitor she is battling with, allowing you to choose a flirty or insulting response each time. I bet Sergio wishes he never annoyed me now because, damn, Jala is a total savage with those insults!

After defeating a Suitor, you will receive some rewards, such as potential items and EXP to level up. When you increase Jala’s level, you will receive points to add to your Thirstsona, developing your choice of three archetypes.

Skateboarding & Skate Challenges

Soundie in Thirsty Suitors
Image Source: Outerloop Games

The second demo portion I got to try out in Thirsty Suitors was the Skatepark, where I got to play around with the skateboarding mechanics and try out some Skate Challenges.

These Skate Challenges were presented to me by Soundie, the leader of the Skate Park, who is also just a strange guy in a bear costume. I don’t know why, but I’m here for it. After all, if he’s the kingpin of the Skate Park, he must be seriously talented — skating around in such attire can’t be easy.

This gameplay section was delightful and gave me vague memories of games such as Skate 3 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, obviously with a much more cartoonish and unrealistic approach. Most basic tricks are super easy to get the hang of, so before you know it, you’ll be cruising around, grinding rails, wall-running, zooming across ziplines, and pulling off some killer Finisher Combos at certain zones within the park.

Thirsty Suitors skatepark challenges
Image Source: Outerloop Games

The Skate Challenges also have quite a good variety between time trials, learning new tricks, needing to accumulate scores from trick points, and challenging yourself to skate the hardest sections of the park. Challenges also find a good balance between being too easy and too complicated. For example, I had to try the Neon Burger Challenge multiple times to work out the best pathing, but after I had this down, the challenge was pretty chill to complete.

My only complaint here is related to the feeling of pulling off tricks. Although the skateboarding is extremely satisfying, somewhat relaxing, and easy to get lost in, some tricks can feel a little clunky and tricky to pull off in repetition. On screen, the controls for the various wheelies/manuals look simple enough, but for some reason, they were just such a pain to pull off without stumbling around like some total skate newbie.

The combination of holding the Shift key and also having to alternate tapping W and S for two of the Manuals felt nearly impossible for me to get right straight away, especially in the middle of another trick combo. This made me want to just use one hand for Shift and the other for the alternate button tapping, which isn’t all that ideal. I’m sure I’d pick up the trickier skateboarding stuff if I spent a little more time skating around, but there was a minor hiccup in getting the hang of nailing certain tricks smoothly this time around.

Cooking With Jala’s Mother

Thirsty Suitors minigame cooking with Jala's mother
Image Source: Outerloop Games

The third and final section of the demo gameplay I got to experience was Jala’s home, where I was able to strike up a conversation with her father and brave a cooking lesson with her mother.

Cooking is a relatively easy minigame, as it mainly relies on the timing of your button inputs to follow the instructions of Jala’s mother to the best of your ability. However, while this may not be the most amazing ‘minigame’ feature in the world, I thoroughly enjoyed it for several reasons.

Firstly, it’s here where Jala uses the time spent with her mother to attempt to repair their rocky relationship and take the first steps to getting close to her again. While they mainly stick to a conversation about the food (at least in this demo gameplay), there are small hints at the awkward dynamic that has developed between the two, such as when Jala’s mother insists she wash her hands a second time with a stern “are you here to cook, or to argue with your mother?”.

However, it’s also clear that cooking is a way for Jala and her mother to find some middle ground and reconnect. The Narrator is even highly surprised at Jala’s choice to take the high road and try to get along with her mother, so it’s clear she is going out of her way. Plus, the moments where Jala manages to impress with her skills offer a small glimpse of genuine happiness and bond between them, making it all feel worth it.

Not only this, but the cooking aspect also dives into Jala’s culture, which is fascinating to follow. There are plenty of tasty-looking dishes to complete, including Parathas, Aasmi, Katte Sambol, and Kathi Rolls.

On top of this, the instructions are broken down into straightforward and clear steps. This even had me pondering if I could make a random attempt at producing these dishes IRL sometime down the line. Unfortunately, I am a terrible cook, so I quickly wrote this idea off as a bit ambitious. I do prefer my apartment not to be burnt to the ground, after all.

While I’ll be sticking to the simpler stuff when it comes to my dinners, I do have to admit, I genuinely felt like I was learning quite a bit about South Asian food and culture through the cooking activity and environment of Jala’s home, and this was a delightful experience in itself.

After completing all the content available in these demo sequences, I was blown away by how much fun I had with Thirsty Suitors. The graphics are not particularly outstanding, but that’s perfectly fine. The lower-poly model style suits the whole quirky feeling of the game rather well, and the addition of wacky and quirky characters around every corner will keep you on your toes. The music is also quite enjoyable, a potent mix of moody, lofi hip-hop vibes with very evident South Asian musical influences tied in here and there.

Thirsty Suitors is brilliantly bizarre and downright hilarious. It navigates topics that plenty of individuals struggle with, putting a light and humorous spin on things to remind us that it is indeed okay to laugh at our flaws and failures and that they don’t make us any less of a badass. I mean, just look at Jala; the Narrator is there antagonizing her every step of the way, but she still rocks up with all the confidence in the world. Have I taken a page from Sergio’s book and become thirsty for Thirsty Suitors? Well, I’m convinced I’ll be picking this game up on release, so probably. Send help.

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Image of Grace Black
Grace Black
Grace is a writer and digital artist from New Zealand with a love for fiction and storytelling. Grace has been writing for Twinfinite for one year and in the games industry for two years. She's an enthusiast of everything spooky, an occasional anime enjoyer, and a die-hard Ghost-Type Pokemon fangirl. Her favorite video games include Overwatch 2, Life is Strange, The Last of Us, Baldur's Gate 3, and Pokemon - all of which she will never tire of.