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Where The Water Tastes Like Wine Preview: Tell a Story | Gaming Illustrated

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Where The Water Tastes Like Wine Preview: Tell a Story

/ Sep 26th, 2017 No Comments

Where The Water Tastes Like Wine Preview

Stories have power. They can make us laugh, cry, gasp and feel every emotion possible. A good story can spur you to action or cause you to re-think your outlook. We communicate in stories, and it’s how we relate to other people. Mostly, stories are currency. It is how people trade socially. Spinning a good yarn can make you a friend or get you a cozy spot at a stranger’s campfire.

Where The Water Tastes Like Wine is preoccupied with stories; how we tell them, why we tell them and how they transform over time with different re-tellings. The focus on stories creates a transfixing experience.

Game of Chance

Where The Water Tastes Like Wine feels like Americana from the moment you jump into the game. You assume the role of a wandering stranger who happens upon a big stakes card game in the sticks. The table is full of colorful characters, each vying for the other’s winnings.

When you sit down at the table, you find it easy to start raking in the chips. None of the players can play a good hand, save one. The players lose their money one by one until only you and the one good player remain. With mounds of chips in front of you, it all comes down to one hand between you and the Wolf.

Your hand is amazing, the best hand you could ever get. All you gotta do is hope the Wolf is dumb enough to bluff big.

Where The Water Tastes Like Wine Preview

The Wolf is your master, and he demands you gather and spread stories like some kind of Johnny Appleseed!

You’re both all in, but when you both show, you realize the best wasn’t good enough. Now you’ve not only lost all your winnings, you’ve lost much more.

The Wolf owns you now. You’re stripped of your skin and your need to eat or drink. You can still die, but it is much more difficult. He tells you that you need to travel across America collecting stories and spreading them far and wide. The better and more varied your stories are, the more likely you are to influence the larger narrative of the country. It is your job to tell the tall tales.

During the full game, you’ll run into the Wolf at various points. The first time will be if you die. Mostly, he’ll check in on your progress at these meetings.


After being turned into a living skeleton, it is your job to move across this Great Nation hearing stories and telling them to shape it. With a simple bindle, you hit the road with the ability to go from Rhode Island all the way down to California. Along the way, you’ll encounter stories.

Every town, city and state is full of different stories. Some are simple, like witnessing the reunion of lost long brothers, and some are more involved, like learning the revenge plot of two little boys on farm animals.

The more complex ones require your participation. How you react and the decisions you make will shape the story, which in turn influences how you re-tell the story. Regardless of the complexity of the story, any story you gain will be part of your story arcana.

Your quiver of stories is influenced by the tarot arcana, with each symbol relating to a type of feeling. Figuring out those story types is important when you start encountering confidants.

Where The Water Tastes Like Wine Preview

Traveling the country by foot is tough, but easier when you’re a skeleton.

Confidants are strangers you encounter at campfires around the country. While you’ll gain their trust by telling them the stories they want to hear, this is also how stories spread. They transmit via campfire.

No stories are bad stories. Sometimes they are simple, but it is in the re-telling where they get good. It’s the little embellishments that get added in that make it better, where details are forgotten or omitted and new ones grafted onto the story.

Where The Water Tastes Like Wine Preview

The stories you encounter sometimes will be simple, but can become more complex depending on how you react or act.

The farther a story travels and the more it gets re-told makes it grander with each telling. Your goal is to eventually have these nothing stories become the backbone of the country as tall tales or folklore until they only partially resemble the story you originally told.

This is the coolest part of the game, and what made the demo so compelling. Even within the short time of the demo, a story told at the first campfire jumped over a few states until it transformed from a nothing story into this a grandiose tale.

That’s the beauty of the game. It lures you in with its intriguing premise and hooks you with unique gameplay. There is something incredibly satisfying about seeing your stories change into something more that will keep you invested.

McSweeny’s for those Facing Great Depression

Along your travels, you’ll encounter 16 characters by campfires across this great nation. Each of these characters are written by various video game writers. Think of these characters as a short story collection within the larger narrative.

Each time you find one of these characters, you’ll have to a chance to befriend and tell them stories. Depending on how well your stories connect, you’ll gain their trust and build a relationship with them. As your get closer, they will tell you their stories to add to your collection.

These characters will ask you for very specific types of stories they want to hear, be they funny or an action story. Telling them the types of stories they want to hear increases your relationship with them.

Every character at a campfire has an eye above them. The more they trust you, the wider the eye opens. A fully open eye means they trust you completely.

Where The Water Tastes Like Wine Preview

Camp fires are hugely important in Where The Water Tastes Like Wine. They are where you encounter confidants and spread your stories across the country.

However, you can also lead them down specific paths to tell you about themselves by telling them a story they didn’t ask for, gaining insight into their lives. For example, one of the characters in the demo, Mason, is an amputee maimed from the war. Telling Mason about a guitar player with faith doesn’t satisfy his need for a happy story, but you learn about his lack of faith, especially after the war, and losing his leg. It is moving stuff and is a good reason to venture off the results-driven gameplay structure to learn more about the characters in the game.

While you build relationships with these characters, they help you in turn by spreading your stories across America.

Building Americana

Where The Water Tastes Like Wine seems utterly fascinating. It is wholly unique. There aren’t many games like it, and it sort of defies a genre. It is probably closest to an adventure game, but has tricks that set it apart from other games in the genre.

In the end, it is an experience that you need to try to understand fully. If you let the game tell you its story, you’ll find it hard to step away.

Where The Water Tastes Like Wine releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in winter 2018


Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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