Thirsty Suitors Review – Jala’s Ex-Hausting Adventure

Thirsty Suitors on PC

Thirsty Suitors has been one of my most unexpected gaming joys of 2023, with the title originally catching my eye for the parallels it drew to the Scott Pilgrim franchise. However, as I soon discovered when I was given the opportunity to play a preview of the game, Thirsty Suitors is entirely original and quirky and puts a new spin on the whole ‘battle against angry exes’ thing.

Because I had found this preview to be such a blast, I was more than excited to give the completed game a run; and just as expected, the wacky, chaotic fun continued in full swing. While Thirsty Suitors does share some classic references to Scott Pilgrim, it also puts a refreshing spin on things to make the story feel entirely original.

Most significantly, you don’t play as yet another ‘thirsty suitor’ (sorry Scott, the truth hurts) but instead as the ‘Ramona’ character, or in this case, Jala, who has returned to her hometown for the first time in three years, only to be met with even more trouble. As Jala embarks on a journey to repair rocky relationships with her family and friends, she also finds herself trying to fend off unwanted attempts at trying to win her back or make her life hell, from her exes.

Upon jumping into the game, you find yourself as Jala on her bus ride home. To kill some time, she takes part in a dating quiz to determine your initial ‘Thirstsona’ – one of three dating types that provide different stat boosts for you to use in Suitor Battles. It’s also here where you’ll meet the character of the Narrator, Jala’s self-deprecating inner monologue who is pictured with an uncanny resemblance to her older sister, Aruni.

Jala's personality quiz in Thirsty Suitors
Image Source: Outerloop Games

The Narrator is there to antagonize Jala every step of the way, making sarcastic quips and brutal remarks to almost everything that she has to say; and it’s so hilarious that it had me laughing out loud the entire way through.

This Thirstona Quiz is also much more interactive compared to others, allowing you to get a feel for the skateboarding mechanics at the same time by jumping, grinding, and wall-running your way between each platform, where you will be presented with the next question. After concluding this hilarious and bizarre experience, you will finally have arrived home in Timber Hills and make your way to the Diner in search of a ride home.

While the main focus in The Diner is the first Suitor Battle, I’d like to briefly compliment the inclusion of the coolest skater dog in town. In Thirsty Suitors, petting the dog is not as simple as a little ruffle of the fur. Machan, who is perhaps the most rad little pup in existence, will do a trick on your skateboard, give you high fives and fist bumps with his paws, and even complete a personal handshake like you’ve been best buddies forever. Automatic bonus points are deserved for sure.

Machan in Thirsty Suitors
Image Source: Outerloop Games via Twinfinite

Not long after saying hi to Machan, you’ll be met with an appearance of Jala’s ex-boyfriend and supreme momma’s boy, Sergio. Suitor Battles are turn-based combat encounters with cinematic dialogue scenes between most turns, giving Jala a chance to confront the negatives of her past.

There are many different Suitor Battles to encounter in the game, with mysterious ‘Gift or Grift’ encounters involving men that your grandmother has sent your way with goals of arranging a marriage, and Jala’s exes serving as the boss fights of Thirsty Suitors, their reveals spread out among various Chapters of the game.

In Suitor Battles, you will use a mix of Attacks, Taunts, Skills, and Items to defeat the countless Suitors. Attacks are basic blows that deal damage and earn you WP, Taunts place various status effects on the enemy at the cost of your WP, and Skills are attacks that deal bonus damage to Taunted enemies or heavy HP damage both at the cost of your WP. Items are exactly as you’d imagine, consumables that you can use to restore HP, WP, or gain certain buffs.

While Suitor Battles are fairly basic in terms of turn-based combat, they are entirely uplifted and kept entertaining by the hilarious one-liners, baffling (and at times cringe-worthy) dialogue, and energetic voice acting. I find myself excited to use an attack each turn, waiting in anticipation of what harsh and sarcastic words Jala is going to drop on the enemy, or how the enemy will respond to such a maneuver.

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

Suitor Battles also use timed-button inputs to strengthen the output of your blows, or to reduce damage from incoming attacks. This makes dealing damage that much more satisfying, there’s nothing better than nailing a perfect attack, having Jala spit out some words of sarcasm, and then WHAM! Watch your poor ex get flattened by your moves.

Jala returned home to confront her past and fix her rocky relationship with her family and has now found herself forced to face off and make amends with her exes, too. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, unfortunately for Jala, that’s only about half of the craziness. She also finds herself involved with infiltrating and tracking down the mysteries surrounding the cryptic skateboarding cult, led by Soundie, a strange man in a full-on bear costume. Yep, it’s as wacky as it sounds.

Soundie in Thirsty Suitors
Image Source: Outerloop Games

Skating is the main method of transport for the game, allowing you to kickflip, wallride, and grind your way around town; and the Skate Park offers unique challenges to test and build your skills along the way. These are usually fun little stunts that involve learning new tricks or completing time trials to collect as many Neon Burger Tokens as possible. Completing challenges will win you bonus rewards to use in battle, coins to purchase some goodies from the various stores in town, and even new jackets, skateboard decals, or sneakers to customize Jala’s look.

These challenges are relatively simple, too, not being too easy or too difficult. For example, I found that I had to retry one of the Neon Burger runs a couple of times to determine the best pathing, but once I had that worked out, I was able to tackle the challenge like some sort of skate pro.

The skateboarding mechanics in general are quite satisfying, with a variety of different tricks you can pull off whenever you feel like it, even bumping into people like a true skatepunk. These little trick mechanics and challenges remind me of the chaos that was Skate 3, just on a smaller scale with much more toonish influences.

Thirsty Suitors may seem like a bizarre, quirky, chaotic mess, but that’s exactly what makes it so special. Never have I experienced a game that can so continuously catch me off-guard and make me laugh out loud with ridiculous one-liners and character interactions. The story is simple, hilarious, and easy to follow along, making it an enjoyable tale to explore. The soundtrack also creates a unique vibe, combining Hip-Hop tunes with South-Asian music influences to create some intense battle themes and catchy skateboarding tunes.

Shah Rukh and Irfan in Thirsty Suitors
Image Source: Outerloop Games via Twinfinite

The characters themselves are brilliantly endearing, and intriguing, and showcase great representation and diversity, with each one helping Jala to learn new lessons and make peace with some of her biggest flaws. Between all of the chaos and craziness, there are also some entirely heartwarming moments in Thirsty Suitors, such as Jala’s relationship with her father.

While her bond with her mother is finicky at best, with them only really seeming to talk through the Cooking activity, and her sister refuses to speak to her, Jala’s father is always there to encourage her. He helps her by having discussions about hardships her exes have faced both at her hand and in her absence and is even there to carry her to bed when she falls asleep.

Overall, Thirsty Suitors is a lovable game with a very enjoyable narrative to follow. With each Suitor Battle, it truly does feel like Jala is moving forward in her journey to confront her past and come face to face with her actions and flaws, rather than simply running away again. Every character you meet brings something to the table and has their unique strength – from confidence, persistence, or independence, to kindness and selflessness, which makes each battle feel very rewarding to complete.

Jala vs Daya fight in Thirsty Suitors
Image Source: Outerloop Games via Twinfinite

There are a couple of minor bugs in the game, but this didn’t affect gameplay performance too much. The first was a small audio hiccup/bug that happens frequently when certain sound effects or voice lines play, both inside and outside of Suitor Battles.

The second is a bug with the Suitor Status menu, in which some character portraits don’t appear on their profile along with their backstory. This is a shame, as I really enjoy the 2D portrait art of Thirsty Suitors, so I was looking forward to seeing each ex illustrated in this style. Oh well, hopefully, a fix will be out for this soon. Or maybe some of Jala’s exes are just taking a page out of her book and going full ghost, who knows?

Apart from these minor instances, Thirsty Suitors has been an incredibly enjoyable experience with an endearing, quirky story and unforgettable characters. It’s a brilliant game to play if you just want to chill out and enjoy a laugh or two, as I found even the skateboarding challenges to be fairly relaxing to play once I had the basics down.

It’s also relatively short to complete as the game only has a few Chapters, meaning you can wrap up the story in between 10-15 hours. This makes it the perfect game to pick up and play on a weekend, especially if you’re looking for something that combines simplistic and fun gameplay with a strong narrative and a quirky plot. Trust me, taking on Jala’s role of an ex-battling skater girl in the early 2000s is a wild and entertaining rollercoaster ride, sure to have you laughing along every step of the way.

Thirsty Suitors

Reviewer: Grace Black

Award: Editor’s Choice