Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is an anthology where you trek across 1930s America as you try to settle your debt to the wolf man.
You see, the beginning of Where the Water Tastes Like Wine features a short sequence where you play a poker game with the wolf man and lose. For some reason, the wolf man likes stories so he tasks you with going across the country to find some. Soon, you'll be free to walk around a landscape that looks like a giant pastel drawing. When you start walking, there'll be a road in front of you so follow it and you'll soon find your first story which is about some bootleggers hiding from the authorities or something like that. There's some very nice country and jazz music, too, and it seems to change depending on which state you're in.
The stories that you find are very short as they're usually just a few text boxes long and you participate by making varieties of choices. However, these choices are inconsequential because you'll never meet most characters again anyway. You also can't die but you can make or lose money yet I don't even think you need money at all to complete the campaign.
There are 237 stories that you can find and I'll give you a few examples: a lighthouse with a lamp that only burns in the presence of true love, a couple who are parted by unemployment, a rider who rides his horse into a severe dust storm, a family who sells you Louise Ames' violin for gas money, a farmer who hides in her basement because the cows have taken up residence, and there's a couple of girls who explore a creepy haunted mansion. If you've read up until now, you'll now know that's what you'll be doing for most of the campaign: reading stories with many long intermissions of walking across America while trying to find all 237.
Also, you'll find characters camped out by campfires who will ask you to share stories with them. There are 16 of these people to meet and once you do, there's a weird mechanic with an eye at the top of the screen. If you tell the right stories, the eye will open up a bit and once it completely opens, you move on to the next chapter. You're able to tell 5 stories each night and folks will usually request a funny, hopeful, or sad story and you have to tailor your stories thusly. Finally, they'll tell you where they will be next before leaving.
The thing is; I don't like sitting through these campfires. You see, it's mostly about you telling a bunch of stories that you already know. In between, they'll tell you a bit about their back-stories but they'll also tell you a bunch of boring commentary I really don't care about. I wish these characters would just tell me their own stories because that would be a lot more compelling. Anyway, there's a minimum of 48 campfire scenes that you have to sit through if you want to beat the campaign so you can see how that can be a problem.
The stories that you'll spend most of your time reading aren't long enough to become emotionally investing and another part that I dislike is the walking. You walk so slowly that it makes traveling the country a drag. Imagine sailing the ocean in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker but the ocean is duller, very little interesting happens, and you only travel at half-speed. That's what walking in this game is like. Another annoying issue is that it's too difficult to find stories that you have missed. It's a huge country and there's nothing to help you find the last few stories after you found most of them. Finally, while the voice acting isn't bad, there doesn't seem to be enough voice actors and there seems to be no female voice actors. At least the people you meet at campfires have distinct voices.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is a simple game about traveling the USA while listening to and telling stories. Unfortunately, I can't wholly recommend it because of its long stretches of tedium in between only a few interesting parts.
- + Some cool stories
- + Great jazz and country music
- + Has some educational value
- - Long stretches of tedious walking
- - Campfire scenes aren't captivating
- - Stories are too short and have very few interesting characters