What Remains of Edith Finch is a masterpiece of narrative storytelling deserving rank among the best of any game in its genre. Edith Finch is a first-person, story-driven experience similar to Firewatch or Gone Home. Through the first person experience of Edith Finch you learn the secrets of the Finch family and the curse haunting it.
The setting is the Finch family home and its immediate property. The house itself is a maze of sealed doors and secret passages. The Finch family spans many generations. The memory of each member is connected to a room or special location. In those places unfold the memory of the life and death each Finch family member. Is the curse real? Does a dark malevolent force haunt this family? The developer, Giant Sparrow takes you on a journey of discovery to answer these questions.
In The Mind of Another
What makes this game exceptional is in its ability to convey the personality of each family member with little effort. The vehicle for telling each person’s story is a short vignette. While each vignette focuses on a single family member, Edith’s narrative connects them together like a numbered dot drawing. You feel the anger of a young boy defiantly facing his fathers marriage to another woman. Caught up in the mind of a child, you experience an infant’s imagination as his toys come to life. You get a glimpse of how someone in the grip of substance abuse might escape into their mind and never come back. Throughout it all remains the question, “Why?” What plagues this family? Is it this a curse laid upon the Finches or a case of family dis-function?
Supporting the narrative is the house and all of its furnishings. The books on shelves, pictures on walls and personal effects scattered about are more than fodder filling in the background. They are clues to each person’s character. Taking time to observe the surroundings and you will learn more about each Finch member and what made them tick. Between vignettes, you are through first-person in Edith’s shoes, but occasionally you slip into the persona of other Finches. You experience the last moments of their lives as seen through their eyes. The house is very much alive as well. As Edith says, “It’s as if the house has been waiting for me to return.”
Gameplay of Edith Finch
What Edith Finch offers very little of is actual gameplay. There is nothing notable to stand in your way of advancing through the game. It’s impossible to get off track. Actual gameplay is quite creative and in some cases quite enjoyable – like bringing the bathtub toys to life. During a couple of gameplay excursions were moments where graphically the game falls down. The textures became angular and flat. Overall, they felt rushed. These moments are vehicles for story, though, not entertainment for the gamer.
Observation and Opinion
What Remains of Edith Finch is an exquisitely told tale. The creativity used to tell the story is masterful. In fact, the imagination of the Giant Sparrow writers is remarkable. This is more than a walk through. This is experimentation in creative story design. Where does it fall short? I took my time working my way through the game and I still completed it in under 3 hours. I played via Steam on PC. At a $20 price tag, that’s a bit stiff considering there isn’t anything to offer in replay value. It did cross my mind how fun it would be to experience this game with my wife or daughter. The female protagonist and the emotional journey make this a prime candidate for that. Experiencing it with someone else sets the price at less than the price of a date to the movie theater. And, there are matters of the human condition explored throughout the game that are conversation-worthy.
I will have a second go at What Remains of Edith Finch, this time with my daughter at the controls. It will be a perfect memory-making moment for us just before she heads off to college.
What Remains of Edith Finch is available now on Steam, PS4 and is coming to XBOX ONE on July 19th.