In Thirsty Suitors, Jala is an unenviable position, one that many children of immigrants find themselves in. They grow up in search of an identity, looking to be true to themselves. However, they're also pressured to do right by their parents and their own culture. Jala navigates this struggle throughout Outerloop Games' latest, one that takes her through harrowing confrontations with her exes and inevitable conflicts with her judgemental family. However, while the material sounds heavy, the team at Outerloop is looking to keep things fun and lighthearted, as evidenced by our recent first-look at the upcoming turn-based RPG.
Shacknews was recently among members of the press who attended a first look at Thirsty Suitors. What we saw should be familiar to folks who saw the game's initial reveal at The Game Awards in December. Jala is reckoning with her past and the people left in her wake. While it's serious material, the battle we saw Jala have with one of her exes, Sergio, shows that there's humor throughout this journey.
Creator Chandana Ekanayake was inspired by many things when putting this story together, but the turn-based battles should remind Nintendo fans, specifically, of games like Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. Timed hits and wacky status conditions help drive battles, as do cinematic-style dialogue instances. The object in battles like this one is for Jala to deplete her opponent's life meter, while making sure to avoid getting caught up by status changes like "Thirsty." In this case, Sergio removed his shirt during one turn and his rippling muscles caused Jala to lose focus. Likewise, Jala can inflict other status changes, like Rage, which will cause targets to deal more damage at the expense of their accuracy.
In keeping with the theme of family, Jala's parents will not only be a major driver of the narrative, but they'll also be present in key battles. Towards the end of the fight with Sergio, Jala turns to a last resort, a summon that brings out her mother to browbeat Sergio into submission. By the end of the battle, it becomes clear that while the object is for Jala to stand triumphant, it is not to defeat or humiliate her opponent. In Thirsty Suitors, Jala's goal is reconciliation, so battles with exes like Sergio will end amicably and provide a valuable sense of closure.
While turn-based battles are fun and all, there's much more to Thirsty Suitors than that. To help convey more of Jala's personality, look for skateboarding sequences to appear throughout the game. Players can explore, do tricks, and complete challenges across various parts of the world. Skateboarding will also become a central focus during a battle later in the game. This element of the game is more arcade-style, in the vein of Tony Hawk, though you won't have to be an expert skater to see your way through to the story's conclusion.
One aspect of the game that was on display in the original reveal trailer, but not presented to the press is cooking. Over the course of the story, Jala will look to learn her native cuisine. It will not only help move her relationship with her family forward, it will also double as an educational experience for players.
This is all scratching the surface of what players can expect to see in Thirsty Suitors. The game is expected to release down the road on PC. It has already garnered acclaim as one of the selections for this year's Tribeca Festival. This won't be the last we hear of Thirsty Suitors this month. Shacknews recently had an opportunity to chat with Chandana Ekanayake about this project. To learn more, be sure to come back to Shacknews next week during our E6 2022 festivities.