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  1. May 30, 2020
    4
    I wanted to like this game. I really tried to like this game. But...

    The truly unique game concept, combined with a slower pace, attracted me. This sounded like it was just the sort of game I could lose myself in. And I have to admit there are parts that still keep pulling at me to come back and play some more, but they're just not enough to get me there. The problem is that, at
    I wanted to like this game. I really tried to like this game. But...

    The truly unique game concept, combined with a slower pace, attracted me. This sounded like it was just the sort of game I could lose myself in. And I have to admit there are parts that still keep pulling at me to come back and play some more, but they're just not enough to get me there.

    The problem is that, at least on the Switch (version 1.0.0.3), the game mechanics are broken. It's frustrating and infuriating. Someone asks you for a scary story, you tell them one, and they reply something like, "I don't see how you found that story to be funny." And variations on that. It's impossible to tell what the person really wants to hear.

    The traveling -- which pretty much all of the reviews will tell you is terribly boring -- is made even worse because the hitch-hiking mechanic is broken. When a car stops and offers you a ride, there's no way to accept the ride. I've tried all of the buttons, and nothing works. The car eventually quits waiting and drives off. Grrr.

    Speaking of travel, the Controls screen says that pressing the D-pad UP will bring up the map. Nope. To get the map, you have to press + and then use L/R to select Map. In keeping with the rest of the game, navigating the map is quite slow.

    Also speaking of travel, you can only cross major rivers at specific points, which may be many states apart. You can't cross at a road bridge or a railroad bridge, unless you've found a way to hitchhike or are riding the train. I found this to add to my frustration.

    If you're a fan of Americana music, you'll probably love the soundtrack. I'm a weirdo who always turns the music down in the games I play, so that's not a big draw for me. If you're using whistling to speed up your travel, the whistling drowns out the music.

    The stories you collect are, by and large, short and pointless. I imagine they're not supposed to be fully-fleshed out, because a big part of the game is that when you tell a story, it gets embellished by others. Being set in the Depression and Dust Bowl era, almost all of the stories are downers, which is a problem when you want to find a funny one to tell. I didn't find the stories themselves to be a compelling reason to play, but some people might. Or maybe it's because I gave up before the stories started really filling out.

    Keythe Farley's narration of the stories is great. That's a definite high point for the game.

    One thing I haven't seen mentioned in any of the reviews I've read: the stories trend strongly toward the paranormal, supernatural, and downright fantastic. They're full of talking animals, ghosts, the undead, witches, and demons. Your avatar in the game is a skeleton, and the narrative sequence that launches you into collecting stories is pure dreamscape. This is definitely not the real world you're playing in.

    I did find one anachronism: one of the stories involves a VW bus, but those first appeared in 1950. Perhaps time-travel is another fantasy aspect of the game?

    So... big props to the creators for coming up with a unique concept. But the broken gameplay on the Switch port made it all seem pointless, and the paranormal fantasy world caught me off-guard. Others might find the stories and especially the music to be sufficient reason to play.
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Metascore
69

Mixed or average reviews - based on 13 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 13
  2. Negative: 1 out of 13
  1. Apr 26, 2020
    80
    Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is one of those games that are not for everyone. Its proposal is different, a type of game that helps us appreciate beauty in something that surprises us.
  2. Feb 4, 2020
    60
    Where the Water Tastes Like Wine could have had deep mythology building for 1930s Americana, but instead it offers only enough to get you intrigued before forcing you back into the grind-laden, story-gathering crawl the rest of the game is.
  3. Dec 30, 2019
    63
    If you treat Where the Water Tastes Like Wine as a visual novel with added interaction, you’ll find a unique premise surrounded with a host of interesting characters and stories. As a video game, however, it is too stripped back to feel substantial and remain engaging through its lengthy run time.