Thirsty Suitors

RPG fan? Consider yourself quenched


No-one has left Timber Hills (a colourful vision of an otherwise dying town in America’s Pacific Northwest) quite like Jala Jayaratne. After a tumultuous on-off relationsh­ip with her soulmate, Tyler, Jala leaves town with another woman – ten years older and the mayor’s daughter to boot – without so much as a text. Now Jala’s back, and all of her youthful mistakes have also come home to roost.

With her exes lining up to give a piece of their mind, what follows is decidedly reminiscen­t of Scott Pilgrim. However, rather than finding herself at the mercy of someone else’s narrative à la Ramona Flowers, Jala will rescue herself and the relationsh­ips she holds dear. In between not-soevil exes, Jala wrestles with the expectatio­ns of her Desi upbringing, often literally as her Paati keeps sending waves of misters hoping to wife her up. Compared to her exes, these guys (and girls) are pushovers, but they’re essential to teaching you the ins and outs of the combat system before you trade sharply written, air-clearing barbs with all of Timber Hills’ broken hearts.


Everyone you fight is weak for Jala in some way, and taunts push them over the edge. It’s a neat turn-based combat system that hinges on status ailments, finding fresh framing for an all-tooeasily neglected mainstay mechanic. For instance Sergio, Jala’s primary school boyfriend, never did move on and his cute crush has developed into full-blown thirst. Mashing to bat your lashes sees him dissolve into a sweaty mess, leaving him open to extra damage via targeted skills like Suitor Slam, a psychic blast of ‘DOWN, BOY’ straight to the face.

QTEs are not only essential for doling out damage or ensuring Jala doesn’t fall for

The QTE-heavy gameplay contribute­s to the game’s exceedingl­y extra personalit­y.

renemy taunts herself – in addition to fighting, you can hone your button presses by patting the local diner’s good dog Machan, grinding through skate challenges, and preparing family recipes featuring devastatin­g revelation­s dropped somewhere between washing hands and washing rice.

Thanks to this RPG’s bite-size length, the QTE-heavy gameplay doesn’t outstay its welcome, instead contributi­ng to the game’s exceedingl­y extra personalit­y, along with the arch and acrobatic animation and psychic battles. Focussing less on how things really were and more on how they felt allows the emotional beats to hit all the harder when they’re unleashed thick and fast. Outerloop Games manages to balance the over-the-top tone with a compassion­ate story about extending grace and making amends for teenage muck-ups. With such a big heart, how could we say no to this?

A bite-sized RPG with a twist on turn-based combat, worth the emotional damage. Smartly written and with a winning personalit­y, this one’s a genuine charmer. Jess Kinghorn

 ?? ?? Even amid all its sillier moments, Thirsty Suitors doesn’t miss its emotional marks, delivering quite the smackdown in the end.
Even amid all its sillier moments, Thirsty Suitors doesn’t miss its emotional marks, delivering quite the smackdown in the end.
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