Where The Water Tastes Like Wine Review
Release Date: February 28 2018
Developer(s): Good Shepherd Entertainment, Dim Bulb Games and Serenity Forge
There’s something a little bit magical about Where The Water Tastes Like Wine, and I’m not entirely sure what it is. The game focuses on developing stories based on the main character’s experiences as they drift across a fantastical version of America. Throughout the game, your character encounters a range of different people from different places. This gives the game an almost unmatched depth. There are very few times I’ve fallen in love with the world of a game quite so much, it felt almost painful to leave behind such a fascinating place when the game ended.
Where The Water Tastes Like Wine is a combined effort from Good Shepherd Entertainment, Dim Bulb Games and Serenity Forge. Each developer contributes their own elements which together create an original and cohesive world. The first thing you notice opening the game is Serenity Forge’s incredible visuals. I couldn’t help but be drawn in the distinctive style of artist Kellan Jett’s illustrations combined with the 3D rendered map which the player journeys across. These visuals are combined with a stunning soundtrack by composer Ryan Ike, which constantly changes to match each regions’ culture and history. One of my favourite parts of the game was travelling across the country and hearing the different version of the main theme play. These elements combined make the simply realised world of Where The Water Tastes Like Wine one of the most immersive in recent memory.
However, the true strength of a game about stories is always going to be the stories it tells. In Where Water Tastes Like Wine, your character is settling a debt by travelling across America to collect different stories, with the most important being the real stories of the people you encounter. From a disillusioned and disowned veteran, to a union miner running from his former employer, to a flirtatious card shark, every character you share your campfire with is absolutely fascinating. Running into a character you’ve previously met and being able to reveal more of their story feels like meeting an old friend after a long time apart. It’s also genuinely satisfying to know that by sharing the stories you’ve experienced you can give them a break from their problems, or enable to see them in a different light.
But Where Water Tastes Like Wine is not without its issues. It doesn’t ever fully explain how to actually play it. While I love the game so much I’ve played it three times already, I’m pretty sure I still haven’t figured out how everything works. The game does make some attempt to explain it to you, but in trying to keep with the poetic tone, the instructions come across as incredibly vague. One of the worst offenders is the whistle mechanic, which has you try to whistle along to the song playing in order to walk faster. Unfortunately it never actually explains how to change the notes, or even how to know what your character is going to whistle next. This is a problem that continues across the rest of the game, with many elements of gameplay having to be worked out by trial and error. I often found myself needing to restart the game because of this. It was confusing and somewhat annoying, but wasn’t enough to break the immersion of the game.
Ultimately Where Water Tastes Like Wine is a brilliantly immersive experience, despite a couple of flaws. I’d highly recommend it for fans of magical realism, urban fantasy or just anyone who loves telling and listening to stories. It’s something I can see myself going back to again and again. In fact, I’m going to head back to another campfire to meet another drifter with another story right now.
Beautiful, original visuals
Fascinating, immersive world
Great writing and characters
Fantastic and interesting soundtrack (quite possibly my favourite ever)
Controls aren’t explained
Can be slightly confusing
Thank you to Good Shepherd Entertainment, Dim Bulb Games and Serenity Forge for providing us with a review copy.