First Impressions: Fixing Broken Relationships In The Thirsty Suitors Demo

Thirsty Suitors Reveal Trailer from Annapurna Interactive

By Jade Entien

Some people seem to have the dating thing down to a T, finding their forever partner through school, work, friends, or perhaps the iconic romance trope of “meeting cute” on the street. Or maybe they’re only in it for the saucy hookups – who knows? But some people aren’t ready to commit right away, which can lead to nasty breakups and broken hearts. Enter Jala, the radical main character of Thirsty Suitors, the latest game from Outerloop Games and Annapurna Interactive. Jala is a queer first-generation South Asian who returns home for her sister’s wedding after running away with the Mayor’s daughter (things “surprisingly” didn’t work out between them). Spoiler alert: Jala doesn’t have the dating thing down a T. 

Images sourced from the Thirsty Suitors Twitter

From about 30 minutes of demo gameplay, I could tell that this game is something to get excited about, not least because of the companies that created it. Annapurna Interactive, a subdivision of the entertainment company Annapurna, specializes in video games, film, and television shows. The company is well-known for games such as Florence, Stray, and Twelve Minutes, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Annapurna was also responsible for that R-rated rollercoaster ride of a movie, Sausage Party. Still, I know them best for shaping my appreciation for the arts with their productions of theatrical plays such as Fleabag and Death of a Salesman. Outerloop, Thirsty Suitors’ developer, focuses on games that value and uplift the voices of minorities and underrepresented communities, andthose that fight against cultural erasure. So I was thrilled to have the chance to check out the demo, which will feature South-Asian, African and Caribbean characters among others. As a West Indian myself, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store.

Images sourced from the Thirsty Suitors Twitter

The demo begins with an epic skating level where Jala takes a quiz to build her Thirstsona, based on our answers to the questions. A Thirstsona, from what I could gather, provides points toward either a health, wisdom, or attack bonus. Each answer receives a snide remark from a narrator who looks suspiciously like Jala’s older sister. This narrator acts as a guide throughout and comments on Jala’s thoughts and decisions. As we continue to answer questions, Jala is confronted by her older sister, her parents, and her gorgeous ex-lover and ex-best friend, Tyler, who’s holding a grudge.

Combat follows turn-based gameplay and quick time events. In our first boss battle, we go up against Jala’s third-grade boyfriend, Sergio. Here, I discovered one of the many things I love about the game – its character traits and personalities. With his petty bargaining, and planning their “beautiful” future together, Sergio is a perfect example of toxic masculinity as he tries to win back Jala’s heart. I love how during the battle you can choose to either flirt with or insult your opponent leading to different dialogue, mash buttons during quick time events, and make them “thirsty” or angry by utilizing Jala’s different skills.

The demo ends with Sergio assembling Jala’s five other exes to inform them of her return. I wasn’t aren’t able to see but a silhouette of all of them except for Sergio and Tyler – which adds to the mystery of the others. Tyler tries to encourage the others to steer clear of Jala since she only brings trouble, which adds tension – and more gameplay.

Images sourced from the Thirsty Suitors Twitter

I had a lot of fun during the demo but I felt as if the fight with Sergio went too quickly and I would’ve liked to see more interaction between the two. His boss fight served more as a tutorial than an actual battle and there wasn’t much room to experiment. I hope to see him linger around more either helping or hindering Jala. After all, he is Jala’s seemingly thirstiest suitor. I would have also liked to peek into what other opponents Jala would have to face on the path to make up with her exes as well as what possible items would be available for sale; in the pause menu we can see a hint of in-game currency.

Although I was sad that a few things were left out from the demo, the fully released game promises cooking, skating, chappal throwing, and – as many people will say – a Scott Pilgrim vs. The World vibe (but with a much more diverse cast). As a ga(y)mer, I found the Thirsty Suitors demo incredibly enjoyable from the voice acting, soundtrack, and the well-designed, colorful cast of characters. Seeing how Jala fumbled Tyler, I’m throwing my hat in the ring: I’m Team Tyler. 

Images sourced from the Thirsty Suitors Twitter

Outerloop Games’ co-founder, Chandana Ekanayake, noted on Twitter that Thirsty Suitors took a 16-person team about 3 years to develop, and so far it’s looking good. I can’t wait to play the full game when it releases for PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and the Nintendo Switch on November 2, 2023. 

Jade Entien is a senior intern for the NYVGCC studying Musical Theatre at SUNY Cortland.

Leave a Reply