I’m always happy to jump into a well-made video game that’s fun to play, but what I really love is a video game that’s truly unique. With more great games than you could ever possibly play releasing every year, the ones I care about experiencing most are the ones that are unlike all the rest. If there’s one thing that Thirsty Suitors is, it’s unique, and if you like skateboarding, cooking, teen drama or turn-based combat then stick around to find out more about this mad mashup.
Our protagonist Jala has just gone through a particularly bad breakup, and at the start of the game is returning to her hometown after leaving without a trace years ago with her new love. She’s not looking forward to reconnecting with all the estranged family and friends she’s abandoned, but has no choice but to face them all head-on and bounce back into life and love once more. That’s easier said than done though, especially once you meet her family.
Jala’s mother is according to the game a typical Indian mother, who although wanting the best for her daughter has some pretty stern advice for her about how her life is going. Even worse is the situation with her sister, who is refusing to take her calls and might not even invite Jala to her upcoming wedding. The Jala apology tour is somewhat overdue, but a few pesky exes won’t make it an easy ride.
Jala has upset rather a lot of her former lovers, with bad breakups leaving them angry and seeking revenge. After meeting her childhood sweetheart at the diner and fending off his thirsty advances, Jala’s exes all meet up and decide to have it out with her one at a time until they’re all happy. They’re a rowdy bunch of guys and girls who come in all shapes and sizes, but they have one thing in common and that’s a general dislike of our protagonist.
To deal with your exes (alongside any other unwelcome advances you face in the world) you’ll have to defeat them in turn-based combat. Each enemy is weak to a selection of specific taunts, be they thirsty, angry, shocking, or so on. By batting your eyelashes or riling them up with an insult you’ll stun them for a turn and leave them vulnerable to your special attacks. It’s an interesting way for RPG combat to play out, and is made better thanks to the added input timing.
Special abilities, taunts, and even incoming attacks require you to nail some quick time events to boost or reduce the damage they deal accordingly. Often this means pressing the button contained in a circle when a ring overlaps it, but there are also times when you need to bash or hold a button too to mix things up. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it helps keep combat somewhat fresh as the game progresses.
Thirsty Suitors is more than just a teen drama RPG though, as you’ll find out once you go out into the world and hop on your skateboard. I wasn’t expecting this Life is Strange style teen drama game to contain full-on skating gameplay, but it has all the kickflips, grinding, and wallriding that even the gnarliest among us could ever want. Skating isn’t just a fun distraction though, it’s a big part of the game thanks to someone in a bear suit brainwashing kids and making them join his skateboarding cult.
This is as weird as it sounds, but essentially just leads to you being challenged to complete a bunch of skateboarding challenges to try and find out more about what’s going on. Unfortunately, I found these the weakest part of the game, requiring you to get high scores and collect different glowing symbols with skating mechanics that just aren’t tight enough to make it a whole lot of fun. A lot of them are optional, but they do grant you experience and rewards that I never really wanted to sacrifice.
As if Thirsty Suitors hadn’t already thrown enough into this hearty stew of a game, there’s also a whole lot of cooking that needs doing. You make all these traditional foods of your parents’ past to impress them between chapters of the campaign, by essentially performing the same quick time events you do in combat successfully to cook with flair. The flair in this game is absolutely bonkers though, generally involving Jala doing multiple somersaults through the air while doing something totally ordinary like washing her hands.
The vibe of Thirsty Suitors is weird, wonderful, and gloriously inclusive, but it can only carry the game so far. There are just a few too many aspects of the game that aren’t particularly enjoyable and get old fast. Like the combat that just feels like it takes too long every time there’s a random encounter, or the amount of time you spend hitting buttons in rings. Thirsty Suitors is full of great ideas, but so often the implementation is just a little off.
Thirsty Suitors is certainly an interesting game, with a great story and a whole lot of inclusivity. The different gameplay elements aren’t always top-notch, but the sheer variety of genres blended together is pretty darn impressive. Thirsty Suitors isn’t a game I’d recommend to everyone, but if you have a desire to play something different then this game will certainly quench it.
Tells a great story in an interesting way
Blends together some truly wild genres
The skating doesn't feel great
Combat takes too long
The quick time events get a bit old