At last year’s The Game Awards, Falcon Age developers Outerloop announced Thirsty Suits, a slick story-driven RPG about battling your exes and disappointing your parents. Since then, the team has been keeping game details a secret, but now thanks to Annapurna’s interactive showcase, Outerloop has released a free Steam demo, meaning we can all try our hand at beating our exes’ batter – a dream come true.
You play as Jala, a young woman who has just been kicked out of her shared apartment after arguing with her now ex-partner. With nowhere to go, she decided to take the bus back to her hometown of Timber Hills to move back in with her parents (hopefully, temporarily). As she kills time on the trip, she begins to take a dating personality quiz titled “How Thirsty Are You?” and it transports her to a colorful, dreamlike metaverse where she can skate and answer deep questions about her love life. Is she really a lost cause in love?
It is through this introductory sequence that we learn that this breakup is unfortunately not Jala’s first. As Jala roams her dreamscape, we learn that she has often been unlucky in love, often due to her own mistakes. The sequence is a great way to get to know Jala, with each response revealing more juicy insights into the main players in the messy melodrama that is her life: the expectations placed on her by her parents, the messy breakups with her exes, and the questions on her love life that she prefers not to face. It also doesn’t help that his talkative subconscious keeps interfering with critical bombshells of truth, some that Jala would rather not hear.
Jala exits the Dreamscape quiz just as the bus stops for her hometown, but she still needs to be driven to her parents’ house. She can’t call her sister (it’s complicated), her parents (it’s really complicated), or even his ex-best friend and ex-lover Tyler (it’s really really complicated) so Jala sneaks into a restaurant to work out her options. This is where she meets the macho, mustachioed Sergio, and it’s then that we find out that Jala and Sergio were dating in third grade, and Sergio doesn’t seem to have gotten over their childhood breakup.
After learning that Jala is now single, the two engage in a turn-based psychodrama battle (just like you do when meeting an ex) where Jala begins to ricochet Sergio’s flirtatious advances with punches and well deserved shots. Combat is made up of small attacks, taunts, QTEs, and even Final Fantasy-style epic summons. Every ex in Thirsty Suitors has a weakness and Sergio is that he’s a incredibly Thirsty guy. With that in mind, you can choose to have Jala flirt with Sergio, which then makes him incredibly nervous and he starts to slip on his own sweat, missing his courtesy attacks.
It’s incredibly tongue-in-cheek and the banter between the two is fun and witty, with Sergio’s overtly thirsty comments constantly being met with Jala’s outright dismissals or mocking cheeky comments. But as the fight continues, the two start to get more personal, and we soon learn that Sergio’s parents divorced the same year he and Jala were dating. That by no means negates his toxic machoness (it’s still a huge tool), but I felt a pang of compassion for the dude. It gives the fight a story and a story, making it more than just a humorous encounter with the ex, and that’s something I hope every Thirsty Suitor encounter has.
As the battle escalates, the environment begins to transform and Jala is drawn into Sergio’s inner Persona-style world, revealing a look into his psyche – a neon, vaporwave wonderland of selfies, weights and cars. It’s here that Sergio sees himself as the person he would like to be, on the surface a nice crush (and “impeccably polished”) but also someone who has his father’s respect. The fight soon comes to an end, however, when Jala uses his summoning ability to conjure up a terrifying psychological specter from his mother who then flattens Sergio with a powerful slap with his chappal.
As the battle comes to an end, the two agree to become friends and Sergio is able to move on from his infatuations with Jala. The demo isn’t quite finished yet, as Outerloop teases an ending scene showing all of Jala’s exes bonding after hearing the news of her return to Timber Hills. Looks like a major drama is about to unfold.
After playing the demo, I couldn’t be more excited for Thirsty Suits. There seems to be a gooey heart beneath all the thirsty humor which I really appreciate, and the game makes no secret that Jala has made some serious mistakes in her past relationships and I like her character more for it. It’s also great to see South Asian representation, and I can’t wait to meet Jala’s parents and play the cooking game featured in the trailer. Thirsty Suiteor’s doesn’t have a release date yet, but the demo is free and available to download on Steam right now, which I highly recommend checking out.
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