I wasn’t sure what to expect with Where the Water Tastes Like Wine (previous coverage). I knew it was going to be story based with multiple endings and stories to uncover, but I figured there’d be combat still, a series of pictures, maybe a simple overworld UI where you’d point and click where to go, that sort of thing. But I was wrong.
The game very much feels like a AAA title with a unique art style. The overworld is an actual overworld where you walk and interact with points of interest like you might in RPGs going back to even the NES days, though a lot prettier. I never was directly involved in combat, but violence seemed to occur around me, mostly off stage. The depression era inspiration runs deep, as even when I tried to find a real job (rather than begging), I was being hired by shady people who were clearly doing illegal things they kept me ignorant of. Again, no combat, just the feeling that I was doing something immoral or unethical, though if the game tracks that and doles out negative karma for it, I never felt like I saw it.
What really stood out was the idea of storytelling. What at first seems like cute lore scattered about ends up feeling like the drive of the game. Your job is to learn more about certain people by telling them the kind of stories they want to hear. That means exploring the world, getting as many stories as you can, and then finding the people who want to hear them. The thing is, once told, your stories can be retold to others, growing less and less true but (hopefully) more entertaining. I was hoping to see some of this on the showroom floor, but sadly the full game was brought in rather than a nice tight demo, and as I had limited time, I stuck around for about 20 minutes and moved on, satisfied with what I saw but hoping to uncover more in a longer session.