Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is a Narrative-Adventure developed by Dim Bulb Games and Serenity Forge, and published by Good Shepherd Entertainment. The game just hit PC today and I am lucky enough to share my first impressions and place the game to its rightful place in your heads and hearts.
Before anything else, I must say that Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is something which we can not come across everyday. The game focuses on ‘traveling, sharing stories, and surviving manifest destiny‘ with a great story-telling feature.
The game starts with us coming across a wooden house in the late hours of night. We are weary from travel and the only option is to try our chances. This may look like the beginning of a horror movie, but we find out that there are people playing a card game inside. So, we sit down and join the game and soon, we end up with the character who owns the largest pile of coins. He is good, maybe too good for us, but we have a great hand. What is to worry about? But, he joins with his full pile, more than you can pay. “Your word,” he says, “I will let you wager for your word. Just promise you’ll pay the debt, however I ask.”
That is the moment when you should run for your life, but this is not a horror game and the man sitting in front of us is narrated by Sting. You can not leave the table, even if you know that he’ll make you pay the debt. The debt is too high, higher than you can pay with your life. So, he asks for your labor.
This is where the game shows its true colors. The story of the game revolves around stories which were built and shaped this land, America. They were told, re-told, changed and became the stories we tell each other. To pay our debt, we have to become a story-teller. We have to travel the land, witness events and find stories, and finally spread them around. Stories are heavy burdens, so he strips away our flesh and we begin our journey.
You see, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine was mesmerizing and captivating from the very beginning. An offer you can not refuse, a painful burden which you will carry with joy, a quest which costs you your very own skin. If you like to hear stories, weird stories which are more satisfying than another, nothing can hold you back from this glorious experience.
The game is designed as a huge map of America with all the states you can visit during your gameplay. We are a huge skeleton with only little to carry on our shoulder. There is also a mini map, yet you can easily find you way by looking around since borders, lakes, names of states, everything is there for us to see.
First, you start with a few strange events to witness, yet you will feel weary from the journey and need to rest. The places and buildings are marked with symbols, and this places will offer you a story to tell, a place to rest or a job which pays. Even if you are a skeleton, you need sleep, food and money. After a while, this places will also give you the option to hear a story, which is the event you’ve witnessed and spread around the country. After all, this the meaning of your quest. The stories of the game are written by wide selection of accomplished authors.
The most important part, I believe, are the spots you can camp the night. At every campfire on the map, someone is waiting for you to tell stories and finally tell you their own. The tricky part is that the stories you’ve been collecting are categorized according to their subjects.
When you come across an event which will turn into a story, you will have options to choose. You will shape the story and the story will be categorized depending on your choices. The people you will meet at camps will have different life stories and very different characters which are implemented to the story very carefully and successfully. According to their background story, they will demand you to tell them stories during the night and keep them awake. Giving them just what they want will keep them awake and they will tell you their true life story. Their story will also take their places in your inventory and can be told later.
These people will move to another place after you’ve spent the night and it will be shown to you on your mini map. Following them and clearing the map on the way is the perfect way to complete the game, since there are more than 200 stories to collect. The map is huge and we are slow, so I regret that I wondered around aimlessly without a route for the first two hours.
When it comes to the most charming part of the game, I believe the developers deserve an applause. I can only respect their creative and highly successful story telling and I admired every one of them. I would never dare to imagine that I could lay my hands and eyes on such a stainless work of art.
But, I must warn you. Where the Water Tastes Like Wine may look like a short game, but if you like reading and hearing stories, your gameplay may spread into days. It is no easy task to hear more than 200 stories at one sitting and I believe it would not be fair. Every story is a treasure and each one of them deserves your attention. So, when you feel like that you are falling behind the story or losing your attention to the game, I recommend you to take a break.
Like I’ve mentioned before, if you enjoy stories, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine features stories which will make you go delirious with joy. Scary ones, hopeful ones, adventurous ones. Ghost stories, stories about nature, imprisonment, freedom, death, country, sadness and joy. It is a well-written visual book filled with flawless stories. And, thinking that the stories are your experience which were told by others doubles the pleasure.
When it comes to visuals, I can easily say that I am stunned. The game only offers a map to walk on, an inventory which features a mini map, your collection of stories, the people you’ve met and such, and the screens where the stories are told. An image will stay on the screen until the story is finished and I am shocked by the beauty of each one of them. A stunning combination of a 3D overworld and 2D illustrations will be waiting for you with warmest colors.
A pleasure for your eyes and ears, I must tell. The soundtrack of the game is marvellous. It is like listening to a state radio. Every time you cross a border, music will change and it makes the slow walking sufferable.
Voice acting is also at its finest. I love how the story-teller impersonates the voices of other people. Even if it is a man who are telling the stories, he has a very convincing woman voice which will make you burst into laughter from time to time. Should I mention Sting again?
Overall, I do not regret playing even one second of Where the Water Tastes Like Wine. It was one of the most enjoyable gameplays I’ve experienced for a while and is a complete masterpiece from every aspect. Everything about this game penetrates right to my bones and I am afraid that it raised the bar for me even higher than I expected.
If you like what you read, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is now available on Steam and waiting for you to listen to its uniquely constructed stories.
- Voice acting at its finest
- Master of stories & story-telling
- Unique combination of a 3D overworld and 2D illustrations
- Marvellous character design
- Choices matter
- Smooth gameplay
- Soundtracks get confused from time to time
- Walking may be boring
- I don’t even know what to say more.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine was reviewed using a Steam key provided by the publisher.