Giant Sparrow’s What Remains of Edith Finch is more than just a video game. It is an interactive anthology, a piece of art, and an unmissable experience.
Here’s a trailer:
I should let you know that there are spoilers ahead, so if you want to experience the wonders of What Remains of Edith Finch first-hand…
Table of Contents
What is What Remains Of Edith Finch?
What Remains of Edith Finch is a first-person, multi-POV, adventure game. Simply put, throughout the game, you uncover the story of how each Finch family member died. In the overarching story, you play as Edith Finch. The story she is telling and finishing writing is for her unborn child.
Throughout the game, the Finch Family Curse is mentioned… A lot. It is a curse in which all-but-one of a generation dies prematurely. As you uncover one death after another, despite their accidental circumstances, you are almost certain that the curse is true. Edith’s mother believes that the Finch Family “worried that [they] believed so much in the family curse, [they] made it real…”
Edith as a protagonist is not the most exciting character, but she isn’t supposed to be. A large portion of the game is from her POV as she explores the Finch’s family home. Instantly, it reminds you of the Weasley’s Burrow and you soon learn why. It was built by Edith’s Great Grandfather, Sven, and as the family grew, so did the house.
What Is So Right About Edith Finch?
The game is a true masterclass of storytelling, not only with the individual stories but throughout the whole over-arching experience.
Each story in the anthology, while being a first-person experience, feels different. For example, Sam’s story is shown through the lens of a camera. You learn that Sam was an amateur photographer, and you can only progress when you take pictures of the “right” subject matter. Then, in Gregory’s story, you are playing in the bath being in control of a toy frog for the most part. This variance, despite the gameplay being largely the same, helps to keep the game from getting boring. Admittedly, it is only 3 to 4 hours long, but still. Not only is the change an important tool in further characterizing each Finch family member, but it also brings a much-needed variety.
The level design in What Remains of Edith Finch is something else that I found wonderful. You navigate the clutter with ease, thankfully. Obviously, there is a pre-determined route through the anthology of stories, but it doesn’t feel that way. You feel like you’re exploring and navigating the hidden tunnels and secret passages. Not only this, but it all feels connected. The hallway, once you’ve gone through several rooms to reach the other side of a door, still feels the other side of that door.
The Title Makes A Lot More Sense Once You’re Finished
One thing I would like to note is the cleverness of the title itself; What Remains of Edith Finch. For the majority of the game, you believe that this is referring to the original Edith, Great-Grandma Edie. She is the family’s primary story-teller, the oldest living relative when Edith leaves the family home. It would be safe to assume that she is Edith’s favorite family member out of the small few she had met.
The Finch family home is set up to be the “what” that remains of Edith Finch in several ways. Edie is the last person to live in the house, for one. Not only this, but it seems that the house is the only thing that remembers the Finch Family. Not only is there the family graveyard, but each bedroom of the deceased has been memorialized. These memorials are what act as catalysts for information throughout the game.
The twist comes with the final scene. Transitioning into Edith’s son in the final scene and the reveal that she has died is truly heartbreaking. Throughout the game, the Edith Family Curse looms over each story of a family member’s death. It is ultimately the cause of Edith’s mother losing her relationship with Edie. In this final scene, her son is shown holding the book Edith is reading from throughout the game. It is revealed that THAT BOOK is What Remains of Edith Finch. The legacy of her family is contained in those pages. Perhaps the only full collection of stories on the Finch Family (we see Edie’s own collection being torn apart during an argument between Edith and her mother).
What Is Wrong With Edith Finch?
As someone as easily impressed as myself, I found I had little to complain about when I played What Remains Of Edith Finch. I found that Edith (and all of the other POV characters you control throughout) walk quite slowly, but this isn’t a game about speed, and this slow pace allows for the story to be told with good pacing. So I overlooked this.
Repeated textures, while infrequent, were a distraction from the fantasy. I understand the constraints of only having a limited amount of textures available. (The Finch house is cluttered, and there are A LOT of books), but when the same textures popped up one after another… It was a shame. I found that it interrupted my immersion in the story, and it left me thinking “Huh. That’s a bit annoying”.
Other than that, though, I had no complaints. If anything, I want to know more about this crazy Finch Family. Every family has stories to tell. They can’t all have been about death, could they?
What Rating Does Edith Finch Deserve?
I truly find it difficult to find fault in this game. Becoming emotionally attached to the Finch family is impossible to avoid. The mystery is compelling, and it drives you to uncover these lost stories. It does exactly what it needs to do beautifully.
I can’t quite explain the emotions I felt upon finishing this game, but a quote from Lewis’ story has stuck with me since I finished playing this yesterday. It seems to sum up the mood of What Remains of Edith Finch and I feel it only fitting to end on it…
“If we live forever, maybe we’d have time to understand things.”
What Remains of Edith Finch was released mid-2017 on Xbox, PS4, and PC, with a Nintendo Switch Release in July 2019.
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