Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is a single-player narrative game about traveling and telling stories, set in an America inspired by folklore and the Great Depression. The stories share the theme of the failure of the American Dream, especially as it relates to those outside the mainstream of American society. The player, cursed to wander the land as the personification of Folk culture, takes on the task of spreading folktales and helping them grow, as well as collecting the life stories of the characters they meet.
The gameplay consists of a mixture of visual novel, adventure, and light puzzle elements.
While you’re traveling across the American landscape you will uncover various icons on your map, walking to these locations you will gather information which is used as currency. When you come across major characters, you are able to regale these stories in exchange for their own personal stories.
In essence, the more these characters like you or the more you entertain them and reward you accordingly.
Stories are introduced to you as tarot cards and come within specific categories such as Justice, Romance, Justice, and The World. As you can see from the screenshot above, there are a lot of categories to choose from.
Interestingly, you are only given a specific amount of actions to tell characters stories of interest. This works out to be an evenings worth, you can see this at the top of your screen and is symbolized by a giant eye icon. The more a character is interested, the eye begins to open. If you’re unable to pique their interest the first time you meet them, you will be able to meet up with them again in a different location so you’re not too penalized if you fail the first time around.
There are various ways of getting across America but your main method is going to be walking, which can feel a little slow. Luckily there is a whistling mechanic which makes you move slightly faster, as long as you can keep up with the slight rhythm game.
There are multiple controller options which include mouse, keyboard and using a game controller. Throughout my playthrough, I was using mouse and keyboard. While trying to move faster I was having to hold shift, use WASD to move and my arrows on my keyboard to keep whistling; this felt odd at first but becomes more natural as you progress throughout.
Alternatively, there are other methods of transportation. While hiking across the country you will come across cars driving up and down the roads, holding Q you’ll hold your hand out in an attempt to hitchhike your way between major towns. Also, you’re able to pay for a train ride between towns allowing you to cover major distances easily, however this does cost.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine showcases a beautiful array of 2D hand-drawn visuals mixed with 3D overworld map for your to hike across. With the narrative being so deep in American folklore, the visuals really expresses each story wonderfully, regardless if the story is focused on romance or the bizarre.
While you’re traveling out in the open world, the game switches to 3D and you’re introduced to what initially seems bland, with a sprinkling of icons which you need to visit. Contextually this is fantastic, as it’s a grand scale adventure set within the Great Depression. It is a long and lonely world.
The soundtrack composed by Ryan Ike ties in fantastically with the overall feeling of the experience and will have you whistling along while playing. There are variations of a variety of the score, fitting in with the different parts of America in that setting. The above video is linked to Ryan Ikes personal YouTube channel, go check out his work!
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine has a star-studded voice cast behind it, coming across each main character is a treat. The other all narrative is voiced by Keythe Farley and is superb.
OS: Windows 7, 8, 10
Processor: Intel Core2 Duo E4500 (2 * 2200) or equivalent/AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ (2 * 2200) or equivalent
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Graphics: GeForce 8500 GT (512 MB)/Radeon HD 4350 (512 MB)
DirectX: Version 9.0c
Storage: 6 GB available space
If you’re on the fence with Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, take some time and check out our playthrough available on our YouTube Channel:
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is a fantastic telling of American folklore but I find myself in a strange place with this title. There is a lot on offer on this lengthy lonely hike through America during the Great Depression.
While the road is long and lonely, you will come across a varied cast of characters who have different stories to tell and have been fantastically written. There isn’t a focus on a central overarching narrative but a collection of smaller stories which build the bigger picture of the Great Depression. What makes the narrative stand out is each of these major characters has been written by a different writer. While the narrative throughout is exceptional they are spread far too thin, there is a lot of walking with very little happening.
Here we are presented with a title which all should experience, but I find myself holding back with recommending this to everyone. The narrative(s) throughout are exceptional but I found my mentality changing as I progressed and while stories are treated like currency throughout, it’s all I was seeking; to increase that currency. As I entered Where the Water Tastes Like Wine I found myself enchanted, in awe; being presented with this rich and authentic recipe created this amazing experience but the more you indulge starts to become flavorless.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is a game which, deserves your time but not in one sitting because just like any adventure you should just kick back and enjoy the journey. If you’re looking for an experience which is equally enchanting and haunting head over to Steam. Itch.io or GOG.
Just remember, take your time.