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

It’s a real, ahem, eye­open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

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