In booking my appointments and looking at everything PAX West was going to offer, there was one title that stood out to me from the beginning. As soon as I watched the trailer for Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, I knew it was going to be something special. It had this folk-lore feeling about it, featured some great music, and had an appealing rustic art style. I had to play it.
Before playing I sat down with the game’s composer, Ryan Ike, and talked about the efforts being put into the music of the game. “We’ve been very intentional about making sure each piece of music sounds like where it is supposed to be from. If we have a character from New Orleans, the music associated from that character has to sound like it is from there too!” Ryan said, clearly excited to talk about his work. “I’ve really enjoyed how many live musicians I’ve been able to work with on this game.”
All of this is evident when playing the game, and really adds to the game’s “folksy” feel. Probably the most impressive thing in the game’s music is the main overworld theme. Ryan explained, “I wrote the main theme multiple times. So when you travel across Great Depression era United States you can hear it in the music. The theme takes on the local flavor of wherever you are!” This effect really is amazing as when travelling along the music changes and impacts the feel of the journey.
“If we have a character from New Orleans, the music associated from that character has to sound like it is from there too!” – Ryan Ike, Composer
At the end, the only thing I could ask that was important was answered with “Yes, the soundtrack will be available to buy at the same time the game is!”
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is a game about storytelling, oral storytelling specifically. Players become a person swindled into a curse, and the only way to lift the curse is to collect people’s stories and to weave those stories as threads of truth into the overall story of, well, everything. By talking to people met along the way, their stories are revealed. Through conversation options, more of their story is told, until a chapter is completed. These stories can then be told to others to get them to tell theirs.
It is an engrossing feature and even though the game has a painted look about it and the scenario is supernatural, the game feels real and intimate. It genuinely feels like sitting across from a person sharing stories. I made my way along, plodding across the United States talking to strangers, wanting to make my way to Minnesota. Being from Minnesota I had to hear that theme with a touch of home in it. Even though movement isn’t quick and there isn’t action to be had, the game sucked me in like a relaxing Sunday drive in the fall. Before I knew it, my time was up and I had to regrettably put down the controller and head to my next appointment.
It couldn’t be a game about oral storytelling without voice acting; Where the Water Tastes like Wine has it in spades. The cast did a phenomenal job delivering their performances, fitting into the roles, and making the characters feel genuine. They are also recorded well and mixed with the music perfectly.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is genuinely beautiful, the rustic art style with its brush strokes and the use of browns and greens, further pushes the folksy earthen feel that the game oozes. I was thankful for the slower pace of the game and slow movement speed, since it gave me plenty of time to really admire the work the artists have put into the game.
Though my time with it was short, while I was playing everything else faded away, the rest of PAX West 2017 didn’t exist. Part of it could have been the the spectacular booth they had put together, complete with hay bales and fire pit. The stations were made to look like crates stacked together, and there was fresh fruit for people to eat. Most prominent of all was a massive hand-cut mural that really stood out among the other booths. I was truly captured by this game.
Its win for Best Indie Game of the show is certainly well deserved. Everything in Where the Water Tastes Like Wine comes together splendidly and offers players an experience unlike anything I’ve ever played. I cannot wait to play it in full.
For more information on Where the Water Tastes like Wine, check out the official website.