Ex-Gone Home and BioShock 2 developer Johnnemann Nordhagen has revealed his upcoming game Where the Water Tastes Like Wine.
Developed by Nordhagen alongside artist Kellan Jett at his new studio Dim Bulb Games, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is an exploratory adventure set in a surreal interpretation of American folklore.
"Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is a game about traveling, exploration, and telling stories, set in a dreamlike and fantastical American landscape," the developer said on its official site. "In the game, you'll have the chance to freely explore the world, seek out landmarks and cities, meet other travelers and hear their stories, and maybe even tell stories of your own."
"The title comes from a folk song, or, more accurately, lots of different folk songs," Nordhagen explained. "American folk culture is one of collaboration, sharing songs and stories but giving them your personal twist. It comes from many different cultures - the European settlers, the slaves that were forced to live here, the workers who have traveled here in search of opportunity, and of course the people actually native to this land."
"Many of the songs, stories, and poems deal with hardship, especially in the blues genre, and many are about traveling the country," he added, citing such influences as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Grapes of Wrath and On the Road. "There are many stories of other American wanderers that rarely get told - the spread of African Americans from the south, the movement of migratory farm workers, or the forced marches of native people. Where the Water Tastes Like Wine wants to capture the feeling of those songs, poems, stories, and wanderings in a game."
"Our game won't be about puzzles or combat as such," Nordhagen added in an e-mail correspondence with Eurogamer. "It's a narrative-focused game, although more like a short-story collection than like a novel, and much less linear than Kentucky Route Zero or even Gone Home."
"Gameplay-wise, the player will wander in third-person around an overworld map in 3D, and have encounters with other characters, locations, and events in 2D. That's a broad overview, and I'll wait to share more on what the encounters mean for the future."
Dim Bulb may not have much to show for it yet, but the developer appears to be tapping into something both universal and deeply unique in this tale of wayfaring through the frontier. Check out some of Jett's evocative concept art below.