Most video games with a focus on conversations put a lot of importance on choices. In titles like Life Is Strange or The Walking Dead, what your character says can decide who lives and dies. But Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, the long-awaited debut from Dim Bulb Games, is focused less on what people say and more on what they mean — the core, the heart, the truth of the message. It's a story about the stories that spread across America. It's about what people say when they try to fit everything true about this huge, wild, weird country into words.
In the game, you play a traveler tasked with collecting 'true' tales, and you start by spinning events you witness into yarns of your own. These can be traded with notable vagabonds around campfires, and you'll win them over by telling stories they're in the mood for. In exchange, they reveal what events put them on the road, which is what you're really after. Down the line, you'll hear strangers in distant towns repeat the stories you tell, with embellishments added along the way.
In practice, this bargaining chain is pretty easy to get the hang of. The rest of the game is spent re-encountering your favorite tramps, rogues and heartland folks to glean more of their stories as you ramble across a gorgeous, artsy map of America. Which is to say it has a singular appeal: If you're looking for more than chatting up a wide cast of oddballs and ruffians, this might not be your bag. But there's nothing like it in video games. Where else will you experience the power and transience of stories?
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