Where the Water Tastes like Wine
All the cops have wooden legs and the bulldogs all have rubber teeth
Developer Dim BulB Games • P ublisher GooD shepherD entertainment • P rice us$ 20 • A vAilAble At steam, GoG www.wherethewatertasteslikewine.com
Stories grow with the telling. What may start out as 100% true warps over time, becoming mythologised and far grander than it once was. A story can, through retelling, become a legend, and that myth can then go on to influence other stories in turn, creating a new mythology. At its core, this is what Where the Water Tastes like Wine is all about. Sometime in the early 1930s, a hobo loses a card game to a wolf and becomes its servant, travelling America collecting and telling stories in the hopes of finding a true, important story that can affect the myth that is America. It’s a somewhat bizarre premise for a game, but one that leads to some rather wonderful moments.
Stripped of flesh and appearing on the map as a giant skeleton with a bindle, the hobo travels the U.S. on foot, by hitching rides, jumping trains, or sometimes even paying for a ticket. Spread across the country are enclaves of civilisation, from the big cities like New York, Chicago and Salt Lake City, to smaller burgs, towns, ranches and lone buildings. Inside these locations the hobo can explore, earning a story, look for work to potentially earn some coin, buying food and drink to replenish health and fatigue, or the train station to move you across the map quickly and safely.
At campfires the player meets other hoboes to share stories. The hobo by the fire will tell snippets of their story and ask for a specific style of story in return – scary, thrilling, funny, sad, romantic. Tell them the right kind of story and they, in turn, will open up a little more, telling more of their story. This goes on throughout the night, giving the player four chances to get more of their fellow traveller’s story. These are the real stories of America that the wolf wants. Stories that are true enough to remain true even when fancified.
The stories you tell around the campfire spread, and sometimes you will hear them repeated to you, albeit in a different form. These stories have grown with the telling and have more power in the telling. The wolf likes these stories, so if he is encountered again may reward the hobo for telling them. One way to meet the wolf again is to die. It’s not a permanent situation given the fact that the wolf turned the hobo into something less than human at the outset of the game, but it is an inconvenience best avoided. Death can come from anywhere – a haunted location, starvation, fatigue, wild animals, or an overzealous train bull giving you a beating for hopping a train.
Where the Water Tastes like Wine is a somewhat aimless exercise. There is a quest, sure, but it’s achieved through wandering and exploration followed by some more wandering. Only conversations with other hoboes are really gamified, so there’s not really anything in the way of challenge either. There doesn’t need to be. It’s an experience, simultaneously meandering. melancholy and mythical, and heavily recommended for anyone looking for something a little different.
tell them the right kind of story and they will open up a little more, telling more of their story